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‘Critical milestone’ reached in developing bicycle-to-vehicle communication standard to increase rider safety

Trek, Specialized, Bosch and Ford are among companies launching a consortium to develop the technology that alerts drivers to presence of cyclists


The development of a bicycle-to-vehicle (B2V) communication standard, aimed at making roads safer for vulnerable road users including cyclists, pedestrians and scooter riders by alerting drivers and their vehicles to their presence, has reached what has been described as a “critical milestone,” with a number of firms including leading companies in the automotive and cycling industries set to launch a consortium to develop the technology.

Bike manufacturers Trek and Specialized as well as components makers Shimano and SRAM are among nine businesses partnering to develop the standard, alongside Ford, Bosch, Hammerhead, B2V technology developer Tome Software and SAE Industry Technologies, with updates on the initiative announced at last week’s CES consumer electronics show.

The ramping up of efforts to introduce B2V technology comes as usage of bikes rises around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Ford and Tome having led a working group during the past year to look at potential applications, with several prototypes announced at CES.

Those include Trek incorporating B2V technology into its Flare R rear light, which can be used both at night and during the day, and Specialized integrating it within its ANGi smart helmet technology, which can also be paired with the Specialized Ride App.

Eric Bjorling, brand director at Trek Bicycle, said: “The pandemic has put more people on two wheels than we have ever seen before around the globe.

“As more citizens discover the mental and physical benefits of riding and look to bicycles as an alternate means of transportation, bike and auto manufacturers alike can collaborate to uncover innovative ways to make our roads safer.”

Specialized executive vice president Bob Margevicius said: “We believe that bikes have the power to pedal the planet forward – improving mental and physical health and serving as a powerful tool in combating the climate crisis.

“It's simple, the world needs more people on bikes. To make that happen, we need to make sure that riding a bike is safer than it is today for all riders.

“We’re excited to co-operate with other cycling and automotive partners to develop technology for added rider safety.”

Over the years, we’ve reported on a number of systems under development that seek to make motorists, including lorry drivers, aware of the presence of cyclists, such as Bike Alert, developed in 2012 at a hack day organised by the Guardian and Honda.

One stumbling block that such systems have faced is that in the absence of an industry standard, they cannot achieve the scale that might truly make a difference to road safety, and discussions about creating a common B2V protocol began at CES in 2018.

Jake Sigal, founder and CEO of Tome Software, said: “We have completed a critical milestone in cross-industry collaboration while we continue the research and development process through 2021 testing and on-road data collection pilots.

“We now have solidified a clear path to standards, continuing our mission for safer roads for all road users.”

Chuck Gray, vice president of vehicle components and systems engineering at Ford Motor Company, called on more leading businesses within the automotive and cycling industries to join in the initiative.

“Cyclists and e-scooter riders are a growing part of mobility solutions sharing roads, which is why Ford is investing heavily in ways to improve awareness between road users and allow more confident mobility – whether you’re on two or four wheels,” he said.

“As we advance the technology, we also need other industry leaders to join in developing standardised wireless communications technologies that can help accelerate these types of innovations for more people, sooner.”

Some argue that with technology not being failsafe, such initiatives could increase the danger for cyclists since the driver may come to rely on it more than their own senses, but with such a concerted cross-industry effort now underway, it does seem a case of if, not when, it will become commonplace.

Within the US, the national cycling advocacy group People On Bikes said that it expects that Congress to “renew their efforts in this area in 2021,” and urged that, together with President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, lawmakers “should take every approach to reduce bicycle and pedestrian deaths and fatalities on US roadways, which includes investing in B2V technology that can help keep people riding on bikes alongside cars safer.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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wycombewheeler | 3 years ago

This solution relies on two propositions

1) the bicycle industry is capable of implementing a single standard

2) Drivers who hit cyclists are never aware of them

In the future we can add the excuse - the cyclists was not using the right driver awareness tech, to the sun was in my eyes.

Fursty Ferret replied to wycombewheeler | 3 years ago
1 like

I don't understand why this needs a standard. Modern cars already know what cyclists look like and this could easily be extended to look for a flashing light to pick them up even earlier.

Volvos are capable of making aggressive brake and steering inputs to avoid a collision. It's trivial to extend this to either forcing the vehicle wider on a narrow overtake, or if there's someone approaching then applying the brakes and preventing the manoeuvre.

wycombewheeler replied to Fursty Ferret | 3 years ago

Fursty Ferret wrote:

I don't understand why this needs a standard.

"Those include Trek incorporating B2V technology into its Flare R rear light,"

the cars are looking from some sort of B2V signal, if it's not there it becomes less visible. The onus is being placed onto the cyclist, instead lf the driver.

And this is the rek/specialized/ford/bosch system, how many competing systems will also be released? Will we see fords able to spot Trek, VWs able to see Canyon, Fiats able to see Bianchis etc etc

The history of the bike industry is not full of cross compatability.

lonpfrb replied to wycombewheeler | 3 years ago
Fursty Ferret wrote:

I don't understand why this needs a standard.

Surely this is an opportunity to get one standard in place, and auto manufacturers do love standards so that driver assistance is a benefit they can sell. Once it has wide use it can be improved and could provide belt and braces for the inevitable driverless vehicles.

Much as I get the responsibility remains with the more dangerous vehicle, this can help with poor observation to make us safer. I don't want to be right, I want to be well.

Stay Safe.

HarrogateSpa replied to lonpfrb | 3 years ago
1 like

Much as I get the responsibility remains with the more dangerous vehicle

You don't get it, because the responsibility is on the driver, not an inanimate object.

Stay Safe

You are Steve Wright in the Afternoon, and I claim my £5.

wycombewheeler replied to lonpfrb | 3 years ago
1 like

lonpfrb wrote:
Fursty Ferret wrote:

I don't understand why this needs a standard.

Surely this is an opportunity to get one standard in place,

Yeah, why re-invent the wheel

Is that a rim or disc wheel? centre lock or 6 bolt?  650B or 700C, TSS/clincher/tubular?

Captain Badger replied to Fursty Ferret | 3 years ago

Fursty Ferret wrote:

I don't understand why this needs a standard. Modern cars already know what cyclists look like ....

Do they?

Article dated 2017

TheBillder replied to wycombewheeler | 3 years ago

It's the last point that worries me. Drivers will just assume that if the tech hasn't warned them there's no hazard. I'm distinctly unconvinced about all the driver aids - I have auto braking, lane departure warning, auto wipers, auto headlights, auto steering if there's anything in the way... I might as well glue a brick to the loud pedal and doze off.

Driving needs to be a bit more attentive than that.

brooksby replied to TheBillder | 3 years ago

Real world example: many vintage cars don't have reversing lights, and aren't required to fit them if they weren't already fitted. A great many drivers just look for a reverse light, not for whether the vehicle is - you know? - moving backwards...

alexls replied to brooksby | 3 years ago

As my old defensive driving instructor* was fond of saying, an illuminated light just shows there's a connection between the light and the switch - not between the light and the brain.

*We had to take a course each year as part of the company car policy 

OnYerBike replied to TheBillder | 3 years ago
1 like

I like auto wipers - my current car doesn't have them and I'm forever fiddling with the little knob to get them going at just the right speed. I learnt to drive in my mum's car which did have auto wipers and they generally managed to be spot on.


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