If nothing else, Ford’s Emoji Jacket did at least indicate that the car manufacturer was aware that cyclists existed. Its latest innovation, an anti-dooring wing mirror, is a further sign of this with the added benefit that it’s also kind of useful.
Car dooring – a driver or passenger opening a car door into or directly in front of a cyclist – is a major danger for those on two wheels.
Incidents have, on occasion, proven fatal. In 2018, Maria Bitner-Glindzicz was killed when a van driver opened his door without looking, forcing her to swerve into the path of a taxi that was overtaking her.
In 2017, Sam Boulton was killed outside Leicester railway station when a taxi passenger opened her door, knocking him off his bike and into the path of an oncoming van.
Boulton’s family have since campaigned for warning stickers to be added to taxis and for the Dutch Reach method of opening car doors to be incorporated into the driving test and Highway Code.
Ford’s Exit Warning system uses existing sensors that were initially devised to let drivers know when other road users are in their blind spots when on the move and instead utilises them when they and their passengers are exiting the vehicle.
“Cyclists, and increasingly e-scooter riders, face daily safety challenges on our busy roads, including avoiding car doors as they open,” said Friederike Philipsenburg, Vehicle Architecture Engineer, Ford of Europe. “Exit Warning is just one of the ways we are helping to make the roads better for everybody — whether they are on two wheels or four.”
According to Ford, “Exit Warning analyses and understands the movements of approaching road users – whether they are riding a bicycle or an e-scooter – on both the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle.
“If the system detects that opening the vehicle door could cause a collision, an alarm sounds to warn the driver or passenger of the danger. Bright red LEDs on the wing mirror begin to flash as a visual warning for cyclists and a strip of red LEDs along the inner trim of the door – that becomes visible when the door is opened – provides further warning for passing road users.”
The firm’s engineers are also said to be testing a new mechanism for the car door that would momentarily prevent it from being fully opened whenever the Exit Warning system determined that a cyclist was at risk.
The technology is to be tested with different road and lane layouts in coming months.