back to article Slap visibility beacons on bikes so they can chat to auto autos, says trade body

A bicycle industry chief has suggested that cyclists ought to be equipped with "bicycle to vehicle" beacons so they are more "visible" to autonomous vehicles. Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, Manuel Marsilio of the Confederation for the European Bicycle Industry, an EU lobby group, said: "Bicycles will definitely have to …

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  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Yeah... Right

    We cannot get cyclists put lights, visible clothing and helmets and we are expecting them to use electronic beacons now?

    1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: Yeah... Right

      I have lights, helmets and hi-viz. Didn't stop me from getting hit by a motorist who decided to turn left without indicating or checking that the bike lane was clear.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Yeah... Right

        I watched my friend almost get knocked down by a car yesterday; she was on a roundabout and the driver wasn't paying enough attention. It was in broad daylight and she had bright clothes on.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Yeah... Right

          Tricky one to call.

          Bike lanes have made cyclist believe it's safe to pass a car on the left - it's not!

          Next beacons will make cyclists think that cars won't hit them.

          Sorry, but you need to think of your safety as your responsibility. If you overtake a truck on the inside, you're going to die.

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: Yeah... Right

            .. if only cyclists rode the correct way along cycle lanes,.... on the way to work, just up from my house, the road has cycle lanes marked on it, but for some unknown reason, bicycles coming from the town side often get onto the wrong cycle lane and cycle the wrong way, against the flow of traffic, when it's pretty damn clear there's a cycle lane on the correct side of the road for them to use.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Yeah... Right

              if only cyclists rode the correct way along cycle lanes,

              ..or stayed off the pavements..

              (The road I live on is pretty quiet outside of rush hour. Doesn't stop the adult cyclists from deciding that it's much safer to cause the pedestrians (and dog walkers) to have to leap aside to avoid being run over.

              Oh - and fitted bells so that if they are riding along pedestrian sections, they can at least warn people that they are riding up behind.)

              1. Baldrickk Silver badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                My cycle route to my old part time job back when I was in college involved a cycle lane, and also involved a significant portion of the journey spent on the pavement instead.

                This was due to the lane hopping on and off the road at different points, whilst having no dropped kerb to allow for it. Going up and down curbs while travelling in the general direction of the road is more dangerous as it requires you to pull out into traffic to get a decent angle to mount the curb, or worse cycle out into the road coming off it.

                Obviously you look at the traffic and do it when safe, or you try to, but staying on the pavement (there wasn't heavy foot traffic) was safer.

                Contrary to that, when I was cycling to or from College itself, the bike lane was on the pavement.

                Pedestrians (mostly other college students) would often just walk along both the path and the cycle lane, right in the way of cyclists.

                One afternoon, someone deep in conversation gesticulated wildly, and flung out his arms to full stretch, just as I was passing by.

                He wasn't on the cycle path, but he was right next to it, and there was nothing I could do about it in the fraction of a second before we made contact.

                Thankfully I knocked his arm out of the way instead of being knocked off (though it did hurt). The open bottle of drink in his hand went right over him.

                I was quite happy to tell him that it was his own stupid fault, just like it would be if he stuck his arm out into moving traffic on the road.

              2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                @CrazyOldCatMan

                Oh yeah, that grinds my gears too,.... I walk my dogs beside the river (along an old towpath, which is part of the national cycle route system but one rant at a time), then cross over the bridge, to carry onto a nature reserve effort. The Bridge is reserved for busses, bicycles and taxis only,... so cyclists don't use that, and use the pedestrian footbridge, ringing their little bells as if I'm obliged to make way for them.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Yeah... Right

                  The Bridge is reserved for busses, bicycles and taxis only,... so cyclists don't use that

                  ????

                  They don't use it because they're allowed to?

              3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                "Oh - and fitted bells so that if they are riding along pedestrian sections, they can at least warn people that they are riding up behind.)"

                A dreadful idea. The correct way to warn someone that you are approaching them from behind is to slow down to their pace and engage in polite conversation. In most cases it is no trouble for them to continue walking but drift to one side of the path and let you glide past on the other.

                Bells are just a lazy way to say "Get the fuck out of my way, scum." and pedestrians should respond appropriately.

                1. JohnFen Silver badge

                  Re: Yeah... Right

                  Where I live, the law says that when a bike is overtaking someone from behind, they must do so on the left (I'm in the US, so normal traffic flow is on the right) and give an audible warning when they do so. The tradition is that the warning should be to state loudly "On your left!". Bells are legal but socially discouraged, because they can be easily misunderstood.

                2. jh27

                  Re: Yeah... Right

                  A bell is a polite, "i'm here by the way". Unfortunately the pedestrian reaction tends to vary from nothing at all (which is fine), to suddenly darting 'out of the way' (without bothering to look, so more likely darting into the way) - with the occasional person looking over their shoulder and stepping to one side or sometimes a torrent of abuse.

                  I tend not to not use my bell when passing pedestrians, as their reaction is too variable. When I need to pass a pedestrian, I will give them a wide berth or if I can't, I'll slow to a suitable speed (often their speed - or a stop if they are approaching), and pass when able to do so safely.

                  I'll reserve my bell for things such as blind bends (together with an appropriate speed).

                  > Bells are just a lazy way to say "Get the fuck out of my way, scum." and pedestrians should respond appropriately.

                  90% of the time, when pedestrians are in the way, it is because they are inconsiderately walking:

                  * slap bang in the middle of the path

                  * side by side, but 18"-2' from the person they are walking with

                  * along side but 30"-3' from a stranger they aren't with

                  * in a wide group

                  * with a dog on a long (often invisible) lead

                  * on the cycle side of a segregated path

                  There's no requirement for pedestrians to be considerate - and I don't expect it (though most people are considerate) - but if you are in the way, it is very likely because you are inconsiderate.

                  (the above of course relates to shared and segregated cycle/footpaths)

            2. Def Silver badge

              Re: Yeah... Right

              ...but for some unknown reason, bicycles coming from the town side often get onto the wrong cycle lane and cycle the wrong way, against the flow of traffic...

              Why is that considered less safe? When there are no pavements, pedestrians are supposed walk against the flow of traffic. Why shouldn't cyclists cycle against the flow too?

              (Serious question. Idiots parking in bike lanes notwithstanding, but that's what keys were invented for, right? ;)

              1. Baldrickk Silver badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                We have some bike lanes that are only on one side of the road, and are bi-directional.

                We have some cases where that is also the case on both sides of the road.

              2. Joe Werner
                Happy

                Re: Yeah... Right

                Because a bike is a vehicle and has to drive on the correct side of the road. The most danger to cyclists is not the head-on or rear-on collision but

                - idiots who overtake you and then cut you off when turning right (or left in UK / AU)

                - idiots who cross in front of your path at an intersection when they turn left (right in UK / AU / JP)

                When riding on the wrong side of the road, cars won't see you when blending into the traffic when turning right (left in JP / AU / UK / NZ?). They watch out for the cars coming from their left, and will just start when they spot a gap. That's also why bike paths on the wrong side of the road are f'ing dangerous! Had this happen to me, nothing too serious happened, just a bit of a scar on the right ankle (chain rings bit me). I was on a bike path, that is unfortunately on the wrong side of the road. There is even a marked crossing there...

                Take a look at http://bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/ (it's not the website I had in mind, but the best I could find).

                Ride safe, everybody! Most motorists are _not_ out there to get you (some are... some are just inconsiderate, and many don't realise how fast a bike can be).

              3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                "Why is that considered less safe?"

                Because of the width of the cycle lane, it's clearly not wide enough to have bicycles passing each other on it, so it should be pretty obvious it's not bi-directional. It's quite narrow, so that means you have to pull out to pass cyclists, and it is uncomfortable when they are approaching head on. Plus it's plain stupid when there is a cycle lane on the correct side of the road.

              4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                Some contra-flow cycle lanes exist. On part of the A724, one pavement (sidewalk) is cycle lane for both directions. It also terminates and crosses to the opposite side of the road in three places.

              5. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                Bicycles are considered vehicles and should travel with the flow of traffic.

                Also consider the affect of an oncoming headlight to a driver at night. Or oncoming headlights to the cyclist, for that matter.

              6. JohnFen Silver badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                The reason you're supposed to walk against the glow of traffic is so that you can see oncoming cars and get out of the way of them. The logic doesn't apply well to bicycles because bicycles aren't as maneuverable as pedestrians. It's much safer for bikes to follow the same behavior as cars.

                In fact, at least where I live, that's the law -- all rules that apply to cars apply equally to bikes, unless there's signage indicating otherwise. It used to be that the cops would as likely to ticket a bicyclist for traffic violations as cars, and when that was the case, bicyclists behaved very well on the whole. Since then, though, the cops have eased off for some reason. I really wish they'd start again.

            3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

              Re: Yeah... Right

              .. if only cyclists rode the correct way along cycle lanes,.... on the way to work, just up from my house, the road has cycle lanes marked on it, but for some unknown reason, bicycles coming from the town side often get onto the wrong cycle lane and cycle the wrong way, against the flow of traffic, when it's pretty damn clear there's a cycle lane on the correct side of the road for them to use.

              Around here it's cyclists riding along the side of the road, often side-by-side, when there's a rail-trail for them to ride on. If the tree-hugging snowflakes insist on ripping up railroads so they can have their stupid bike trails, they can fecking well USE them and not the roads. My brother just LOVES to yell that very point at them when they do that shit.

              1. tom dial Silver badge

                Re: Yeah... Right

                In the US, bicycles generally are treated as road vehicles and cyclists are required to use the roadway and observe the same rules as motor vehicle drivers. Where there is no bicycle lane, cyclists may occupy a traffic lane and in many cases two may ride abreast. Motor vehicle drivers must pass cyclists according to the same rules that would apply when passing another motor vehicle. As an example, the Utah rules are summarized at https://www.bikelaw.com/2014/06/utah-bicycle-laws/.

              2. armyknife

                Re: Yeah... Right

                Around here it's cyclists riding along the side of the road, often side-by-side, when there's a rail-trail for them to ride on. If the tree-hugging snowflakes insist on ripping up railroads so they can have their stupid bike trails, they can fecking well USE them and not the roads. My brother just LOVES to yell that very point at them when they do that shit

                So to summarise, you're saying you're slightly less of a twat than you brother.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Yeah... Right

            Sorry, but you need to think of your safety as your responsibility

            Indeed. First rule of riding a (motor)bike on the road: Everything else is out to kill you. Don't rely on others to be good drivers/riders because (on average) they won't be.

            Keep that in mind and you (might) survive.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Yeah... Right

              That rule doesn't just apply to bikes. It applies to being on the road as a pedestrian or in a motorized vehicle as well.

              I always have a SMH reaction to drivers complaining about bicyclists -- from what I've seen, drivers do no better in terms of behaving properly on public roads.

          3. Phil Lord

            Re: Yeah... Right

            "Sorry, but you need to think of your safety as your responsibility. If you overtake a truck on the inside, you're going to die."

            It's wrong to assume that a cyclist that got hit by a left turner turner went up the inside. A lot of the time, the lorry moves up the outside, then forgets that the cyclist they can no longer see is there, then turns left.

            This is especially common at traffic lights where the cyclist can do very little about it. It's the reason why jumping red lights on a left turn is usually safer for a cyclist than obeying the law.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "was on a roundabout"

          I have avoided many bikers who believe roundabout rules don't apply to them, and they can enter them at full speed because braking and ensuring they have right of way of course will hit their average speed and time and break the "rhythm" - or pass you right or left when you're restarting after stopping. And that happens with red traffic lights too.

          There are a lot of morons in cars, but there is a lot on bicycles too. I like bicycles too - that's why I use them away from trafficked roads, mostly off-road.

          While the number who go around in the dark without any light is quite appalling, more even so a cheap chinese LED lights cost next to nothing. Probably more needed to be addressed than e-beacons for autonomous cars.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "was on a roundabout"

            cheap Chinese leds are... cheap. I mean, 99 p for a back LED, pretty strong... you can't go cheaper than that. Sure, batteries not included, and the plastic's so poor they hardly last a drop. But there's no excuse not to have them. Frankly, they SHOULD be mandatory (as they are in some European countries).

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Yeah... Right

        I have lights, helmets and hi-viz.

        So do I. So does my SWMBO and kids. We clock > 10 miles per head per day on average.

        However, every time I cycle or drive I constantly see the same picture - no lights, dark clothing, brakes not working and no helmet. Usually belongs to what Jasper Carrot used to refer to as "different species".

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Yeah... Right

          no lights, dark clothing, brakes not working and no helmet

          Sounds like the Netherlands… Until public policy consitently sees bicycles as vehicles and thinks about the kind of traffic management this needs there will continue to be half-hearted measures that are poorly enforced and misplaced faith in helmets.

        2. jh27

          Re: Yeah... Right

          >> However, every time I cycle or drive I constantly see the same picture - no lights, dark clothing, brakes not working and no helmet.

          No lights and dark clothing, yet you still see them. Don't get me wrong, I don't tend to cycle in dark clothing (maybe if I'm popping out for a short trip to the shops) and usually have lights on during the day time. But I do object to the idea that cyclists become invisible when they have no lights or high-viz.

          If anything contributes to the poor visibility of cyclists, it is the glare from overly bright and poorly adjusted lights - especially in well lit areas where side lights are all that is required - well that, and people not looking. Brilliant white lights are especially bad IMHO - I wish we could mandate yellow headlights, like they used to have in France.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Andrew

        I got clipped at the start of the year by a driver who got too close and then never stopped.

        The police are funny.

        They said it may take up to 6 weeks to investigate since there's only 1 person dealing with traffic accidents for the West Midlands. Is that 1 person in their police force or for the entire 6+ million people in the West Midlands?

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah... Right

        "I have lights, helmets and hi-viz. Didn't stop me from getting hit by a motorist who decided to turn left without indicating or checking that the bike lane was clear."

        Ditto, I got knocked over by a car entering a roundabout, and the driver simply *didn't* pay any attention to someone with lights and Hi viz clothing on, and as far as I can tell, would have crashed into me even if I'd have been an ambulance with the lights and sirens blaring.

      6. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Yeah... Right

        Me too. I've only been in one accident with a car (and it was serious). It was because the car ran a stop sign. Oddly, my reflective clothing, lighting, and helmet couldn't stop an idiot from being an idiot.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah... Right

        It's interesting though, when I'm in a car (a passenger), I realized, that those (pesky!) cyclists, even with lights, are rather harder to spot, than I thought, as a cyclist. And then, there are those "cyclists", who don't use a light, no hi-viz but hey, a cool-coloured (grey) jacket...

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Yeah... Right

      As ever it's enforcement: in the UK this would include making sure motorists don't treat cycle lanes as parking spaces.

      But, actually, this kind of solutionism is an attempt to avod the difficult and expensive problem of traffic flow management. There are very few accidents between cars and bicycles in the Netherlands, and the recent experience in Copenhagen shows that this isn't just a one-off.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Yeah... Right

        If there's no yellow line, there's no reason not to park in the cycle lane. It's no different to parking on the left of a regular road.

        The problem is placing the cycle lane to the left of vehicles and then telling cyclists they have some form of right of way. I used to cycle in London daily before cycle lanes existed. There was no choice but to be aware of everything around you. Much safer IMHO.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Yeah... Right

          ... if the cycle lane is marked by a solid white line, cars may not cross the solid white line, therefore they may not park. A quick google image search shows cycle lanes with solid white lines, and no other road markings, so parking in those circumstances would be improper.

          1. Thoguht Silver badge

            Re: Yeah... Right

            Improper, yes, but apparently not actually illegal because the criminal offence of causing obstruction by parking specifically does not cover obstruction to cyclists. In practice it's down to local councils as to whether they will enforce it as a civil offence or not.

            1. jh27

              Re: Yeah... Right

              >> Improper, yes, but apparently not actually illegal because the criminal offence of causing obstruction by parking specifically does not cover obstruction to cyclists. In practice it's down to local councils as to whether they will enforce it as a civil offence or not.

              Parking in a cycle lane will be dealt with as contravention of a traffic regulation order - exactly the same as parking on yellow and red lines - if it is mandatory cycle lane. It is exactly the same thing as parking on red, yellow lines, in a bus lane or in a controlled zone. Obstructive parking generally requires a complainant who has been obstructed.

            2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

              Re: Yeah... Right

              Rule 140 of the Highway Code states 'Must not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line', and references the Road Traffic Regulation Act sections 5 and 8, it would be more than just a civil matter.

          2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

            Re: Yeah... Right

            Here in Sacramento we have bicycle lanes offset from the curb, allowing space for parking.

        2. rmv

          Re: Yeah... Right

          @AMBxx: "If there's no yellow line, there's no reason not to park in the cycle lane."

          Well there's the highway code, which you're meant to be following.

          Rule 240 of the Highway Code:

          You MUST NOT stop or park on:

          [...]

          a tram or cycle lane during its period of operation

          Rule 243 of the Highway Code:

          DO NOT stop or park:

          [...]

          where you would obstruct cyclists’ use of cycle facilities

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yeah... Right

          > If there's no yellow line, there's no reason not to park in the cycle lane. It's no different to parking on the left of a regular road.

          Good luck with that.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah... enforcement

        there's (almost) none, and that's the whole point. Ironically, it wouldn't cost billions to enforce the rules (and the fines would quickly pay for the system). Unfortunately, you see people deliberately flaunting the rules, causing a danger to others, and as they get away with it, each time they get a little reinforcement (I can get away with it, it's ok).

        Sadly, people are not responsible, they need to know that breaking the rules ALWAYS invokes a certain, even minor, punishment. Now, as a masochist I would gladly participate in a live, road trial...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Yeah... enforcement

          Sadly, people are not responsible, they need to know that breaking the rules ALWAYS invokes a certain, even minor, punishment.

          I think it's probably a case of both carrot and stick. It's interesting to see how effective the helmet propaganda has been in some countries and yet you'll see cyclists in helmets riding like numpties. There was research into how ABS and airbags actually increased reckless driving and I think there is a bit of this with helmets.

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: Yeah... Right

      It's a scam to sell more crap as well as to allow the car makers to dodge responsibility for their rubbish.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah... Right

      "We cannot get cyclists put lights, visible clothing and helmets and we are expecting them to use electronic beacons now?"

      I get the lights and visible clothing bit, but could you explain to me how wearing a helmet prevents you from hitting me?

    5. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Yeah... Right

      We cannot get cyclists put lights, visible clothing and helmets and we are expecting them to use electronic beacons now?

      I'm sure plenty of cyclists will get on board with the tech - it'll ensure they get right of way over anything autonomous, in accordance with the law and otherwise.

      What I'm puzzled by is what the car is going to think the cyclist is doing approaching at speed along a footpath, before cutting out into the road and blasting through the junction against a red light. Coding for cyclists in Europe will be a lot easier than coding for cyclists in London, where the standard of behaviour & ability seems a lot lower than the rest of the world.

    6. Craig 2

      Re: Yeah... Right

      Random anecdote on how bad cyclists are...

      Random anecdote on how bad motorists are...

      This is a random anecdote on predictable anecdotes given the subject.

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