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York taxi company adopts controversial Cycle Alert safety scheme

Drivers get alerted when cyclists are around - but only if they've decided to carry a special tag...

A taxi firm in York has claimed it is the first in the world to roll out the controversial Cycle Alert safety scheme for keeping tabs on local riders.

Streamline Taxis will now be using Cycle Alert, whose Radio-frequency identification (RFID) relies on local riders carrying a tag, which will alert a driver that a cyclist is nearby.

The University of York, which promotes Streamline to students as its recommended taxi provider, has encouraged the partnership between Cycle Alert and Streamline.

Streamline Taxis' business manager Bob Gilbert told the York Press: "With our link-up with the university, when Cycle Alert came up we had a meeting and they asked us if we would like to see how it was going.

"We thought let's go for it. Anything we can do to make York a safer place for everybody is worthwhile.

"A lot of students ride pedal cycles, so it links in well.

"To be the first taxi company in the world to do it, I think that's great news. We like to think we are leading the way."

Mr Gilbert added: “By ensuring our Streamline cabs have the latest cyclist detection technology we hope to make our drivers the safest in York, and make York the safest city in the Britain for its cyclists, many of whom are our customers.”

A spokesman for The University of York said: “The safety of our staff and students is a priority for us. We are pleased that Streamline are taking these steps to help protect our cycling community.”

But as we reported last year, Cycle Alert is not universally popular with cyclists.

A number of bin lorries in Croydon have been fitted with the electronic alerts - but concerns have been raised that it might make cycling more dangerous with those riders who do not have the tags.

The controversial scheme, Cycle Alert, is being trialled on four refuse lorries, but Croydon Cycle Campaign say HGV drivers will be lulled into a false sense of security, while it will be impossible to tag enough of the area’s cyclists.

Manufacturers of the £400 device are hoping to roll it out nationally after piloting, and cyclists in the area are being encouraged to pick up a free electronic tag from cycle shops in the borough, which will sound an alert in the lorry’s cab if they come within 2.5m.

An LED display shows the driver the position of the cyclist.

But Kristian Gregory of the Cycling Campaign said: "We are seriously concerned about the effect Cycle Alert will have on road safety.

"We are concerned that tagging a high enough percentage of cyclists will not be viable, and that HGV drivers will be given a false sense of security by the device, when an untagged cyclist may be nearby."

Mr Gregory added: "We believe safety devices should only need fitting to the lorry itself.

"This will be safer for cyclists and also pedestrians who are also at high risk from lorries with blind spots.

"Safer lorry cab designs are also needed to eliminate blind spots.

Ahead of its launch in 2013, we reported how Cycle Alert’s co-founder, Peter Le Masurier, said: “Many systems have been designed for HGV’s, so that drivers can be more aware of cyclists close to their vehicle.

“But everybody needs to take responsibility for their own safety on the road.

“Cycle Alert empowers cyclists to make themselves more obvious to HGV drivers – no mean feat when you consider the relative size difference – and allows HGV drivers to protect themselves from the devastating impact of an accident.

“In fact I was inspired to develop this technology when I heard an interview with a truck driver who had been involved in an accident with a cyclist – I recognised then that not one but two families are left devastated by such incidents.”


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