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Cycling app of the week: TravelSafely App

This app can warn drivers of cyclists' presence and vice versa, and is currently being beta tested in the US

What is it?

TravelSafely does what it says on the tin and more: aimed primarily at drivers but with massive potential implications for cyclists and pedestrians too, the app connects phones with traffic networks and other road users, with spoken alerts to warn of hazards. The American startup believes their app can save lives, saying they want to do something about the 40,000 deaths on US roads every year. 

App of the week: Smartcycle 
App of the week: Better Bike Light

Using spoken alerts with mapping applications simultaneously, TravelSafely displays a countdown when approaching traffic lights to tell you how long you've got until it changes. It can notify you if you're approaching a zone with roadworks or a school, or if an emergency vehicle is approaching. Motorists also get warnings if cyclists ar approaching ahead, and vice versa cyclists will get a notification if a car is close to approaching. It can also detect if a rear-end collision is imminent.   

What makes it unique?

 

Most things that Travelsafely claims it can do are unprecedented in app form as far as we know. The countdown timer at traffic lights is a very promising idea, and could reduce the number of drivers needlessly speeding between lights that are going to be on red when they come to a halt anyway.  

travel safely screen.png

 How can it help me?

Specifically as a cyclist, the app can warn you of an approaching vehicle that is going to pass close by. If it's adequately responsive and easy to interpret the display, this could be game-changing technology. The red light approach countdown could also be very useful for cyclists. In theory, it would be perfect to time the roll up to the lights so you make it through without having to unclip!

Where can I get it?

At the moment you can only get it if you live in one of the US cities that is currently beta testing the software: Marietta and Atlanta in Georgia, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama. TravelSafely are intending to launch in January though, so watch this space and check out their website for more info...

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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12 comments

Avatar
DaSy | 6 years ago
1 like

 

I can see no irony at all in encouraging road users to look away from the road and at their smart-phone in order to make the roads a safer place.

 

As said above, an app to replace your eyes, great work people!

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Al__S | 6 years ago
2 likes

nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope

Avatar
Tommytrucker | 6 years ago
1 like

Sounds like an app to replace your own eyes.

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alansmurphy | 6 years ago
0 likes

Well if you're going to bring Brexit into it then it's only right to point out the device comes in a jiffy bag, can detect helmets but bases stopping distance on disc brakes...

Avatar
Look555 | 6 years ago
1 like

If you look at the web site it requires the surrounding city/town etc to have connected smart sensors, lights, speed/flow monitors and its those that its primarily surfacing through its UI. That means the speeding motorist is captured in the system and you are alerted that its approaching. Something for the mainstream in the year never in this country but in some US cities perhaps the infrastructure exists. 

Be good if it comes and I'm sure this won't be the only app, they're just first to exploit the potential.

Odds are if it was just safety concerns it would never happen here but if people are serious about semi or fully autonymous vehicles (think trains of lorries on the motorways or traffic being routed as packets efficiently through a city) then perhaps its a dim possibility for us here in Brixit wastelands... ah wait.....

Avatar
adamrice | 6 years ago
1 like

It's interesting, but in order for it to be effective, everyone needs to be using it, since it works by connecting all road users.

I suppose that if a motorist running the app collided with a cyclist also running the app, it might be possible for the cyclist to use the app to figure out who the motorist was, or at least narrow it down to a few candidates, although that feature would need to be explicitly enabled by the app. And a motorist who was concerned that their phone would rat them out wouldn't run the app in the first place.

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KarlM77 replied to adamrice | 6 years ago
0 likes
adamrice wrote:

It's interesting, but in order for it to be effective, everyone needs to be using it, since it works by connecting all road users.

 

This will be the future lights/hiviz ... The victim didn't have the app, well what do you expect?

Avatar
Mark B | 6 years ago
10 likes

I don't see how any of this makes anyone safer.

Knowing when lights are going to change is just as likely to make drivers not slow down when they should on the expectation that it will be going green when they get there, or alternatively to accelerate to get through a green light because it's about to turn red.

Drivers need to be on the look out for all cyclists, as well as pedestrians and other hazards, not just ones that are on the app. There's a risk that drivers will come to rely on the app and drive less safely except where the app warns them.

And what exactly am I supposed to do about the fact that there's a motorist approaching me? So what, 99% of the time they will pass me safely, and doing anything at all would be a ridiculous over-reaction. Unless the app can somehow warn me that the driver is a dangerous moron, it's not going to change my behaviour. 

 

Avatar
ClubSmed replied to Mark B | 6 years ago
0 likes
Mark B wrote:

I don't see how any of this makes anyone safer.

Knowing when lights are going to change is just as likely to make drivers not slow down when they should on the expectation that it will be going green when they get there, or alternatively to accelerate to get through a green light because it's about to turn red.

There are traffic lights that have countdown displays next to them and I haven't noticed any of the behavior you mention around them. Is your experience different or are you just making assumptions?

Avatar
DaveE128 replied to ClubSmed | 6 years ago
0 likes
ClubSmed wrote:
Mark B wrote:

I don't see how any of this makes anyone safer.

Knowing when lights are going to change is just as likely to make drivers not slow down when they should on the expectation that it will be going green when they get there, or alternatively to accelerate to get through a green light because it's about to turn red.

There are traffic lights that have countdown displays next to them and I haven't noticed any of the behavior you mention around them. Is your experience different or are you just making assumptions?

What you've never seen a pedestrian run because the countdown is low on the pedestrian phase? The implications of motor vehicles speeding up to squeeze through on amber are far worse.

Avatar
ClubSmed replied to DaveE128 | 6 years ago
0 likes
DaveE128 wrote:
ClubSmed wrote:
Mark B wrote:

I don't see how any of this makes anyone safer.

Knowing when lights are going to change is just as likely to make drivers not slow down when they should on the expectation that it will be going green when they get there, or alternatively to accelerate to get through a green light because it's about to turn red.

There are traffic lights that have countdown displays next to them and I haven't noticed any of the behavior you mention around them. Is your experience different or are you just making assumptions?

What you've never seen a pedestrian run because the countdown is low on the pedestrian phase? The implications of motor vehicles speeding up to squeeze through on amber are far worse.

To be honest I have not seen ones where there is a countdown for pedestrians, only the ones where there is a countdown for the road traffic. On these I have not seen any of the speed up behaviour that you expect.

Avatar
Ratfink | 6 years ago
1 like

Anyone here from Tuscaloosa?

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