Customised warning system to protect cyclists on rural UK roads


The UK division of the Austrian traffic technology supplier Swarco has created a tailor-made advanced warning system to help keep cyclists protected on busy country lanes in Bedfordshire.

Central Bedfordshire Council was looking to improve protection for cyclists and encourage safer bicycling on its rural roads where there is often limited visibility. The council turned to its highways consultancy Jacobs Engineering and ITS equipment supplier Swarco Traffic Ltd to provide a suitable solution to the problem. The system needed to be suitable for deployment in areas where a mains power supply may not be available and provide a warning to drivers that there is a cyclist on the route ahead.

The Swarco engineered solution uses bespoke Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) at each end of a predefined detection zone, with each zone being around 2,460 feet (750m) in length. When a cyclist passes into the zone, a signal is sent from an AGD 318 traffic control radar unit to the VAS at either end of the zone from either direction. The signs then illuminate to warn approaching drivers travelling above a pre-set speed threshold that a cyclist is in the area, as well as displaying a warning message advising drivers to reduce their speed. The customised solution, which is fully solar-powered, enables real-time information updates and status reports to be accessed including information on power, communication, and fault detection to ensure the safety critical signs remain at optimum capacity.

“Jacobs asked us to design a scheme that would detect a cyclist in the lanes and alert motorists to their presence. The lanes leave both cyclists and motorists blind to one another, with high hedges that make it difficult to see the road ahead,” said Paul Wright, the technical estimator at Swarco who was responsible for designing the system. “This project involved creating a bespoke solution tailored to the needs of Central Bedfordshire Council. Using our suite of best-in-class products and traffic technologies, we have created a reliable solution that will help improve driver awareness of vulnerable road users and increase safety for cyclists.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.