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 …

  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.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Yeah... Right

        I'll throw in a random anecdote about how pedestrians treat the bicycle lame like a sidewalk extension here in Northern California, mostly joggers. Also how we have a lot of shift curbs that drivers consider permission to park on the sidewalks. And bicyclists riding across intersections in the crosswalks.

        I've seen all combinations.

        And you're right, these anecdotes aren't proof. We're also not in a court of law or trying to pass laws, we're in a comments section of an IT rag. Just because they're anecdotal doesn't mean they're false.

        1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

          Re: Yeah... Right

          "Also how we have a lot of shift curbs that drivers consider permission to park on the sidewalks."

          Damn autocorrect. That's supposed to be "soft curbs."

    7. 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?"

      Damn right we can't. the beacons *cannot* be engineered with a fail-safe "always transmitting" mode, so when you got on your bike, you would have *absolutely* no idea whether the damn thing was working or not. And no, I don't trust a little glowing LED to tell me so.

      Secondly, ladies and gentlemen, I give you:- high tech caltrops. For the beacons to work as described, cars would have to *always* avoid them, regardless of what their other sensors are showing. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader as to how wonderful an idea these beacons would be, given that if you mandated their use, they'd probably have to cost as little as a couple of quid each, and be easily available at every bike shop in the country.

      1. TheDillinquent
        Facepalm

        Re: Yeah... Right

        Transponder

    8. thegroucho
      WTF?

      Re: Yeah... Right

      Higway code:

      Rule 59 says SHOULD about helmet and high-vis.

      Rule 60 says MUST have front and rear light at night, also rear reflector.

      Those who have read a RFC should better know the difference between MUST and SHOULD.

      Make what you wish out the above.

    9. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Yeah... Right

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

      If autonomous vehicles are so shit that they can't identify cyclists wearing high-viz and with lights, but need a further kick up the arse from a radio beacon then maybe they shouldn't be allowed on roads which cyclists use. And what about pedestrians - those buggers can be even harder to spot sometimes and can be even more erratic - are they going to be expected to wear some sort of radar reflective hat or something?

      1. hoola

        Re: Yeah... Right

        No, if they are that shit, they simply should not be allowed on the roads. Do this for one set of users & the next thing everyone will have to have a beacon so a small group of American tech companies can make more profit.

        You can also guarantee that those beacons will be uploading data as well.

        As a cyclist, the problems are two way, far too many road users are selfish, stupid and for drivers, do not look beyond the end of the bonnet. There are also plenty of stupid cyclists who give the rest of us a bad name, and they are not all teenage louts.

        Whilst driving on Sunday I approached a mini roundabout to turn right, a stream of lycra clad middle-aged roadies coming the other way just ploughed straight across the roundabout and my path, hurling abuse at me for hooting. The same group had a huge queue of cars behind them because they were riding 3 and 4 abreast. As for the Deliveroo. and courier people, they are just nuts.

    10. redpawn Silver badge

      Re: Yeah... Right

      Chances are that they already carry one most of the time. Mine can dial 999 or in the US 911. Just a matter of time before this is used for traffic management, all for your protection mind you.

    11. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      This goes back to my Patent Application

      Title: "Using a Plurality of Photons to Make Visible One's Surroundings."

      Description: "An Ad-hoc Non-deterministic Distributed Peer-to-Peer Photonic Information and Location Sharing Network Operating at 555nm and Similar Wavelengths and Relying Upon Ambient and Random Phase Multisource EM Fields."

  2. Autonomous Cowherds

    Call me cynical...

    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 communicate with other vehicles."

    Happy to be corrected if you know different, but a lobby group called 'Confederation for the European Bicycle industry' speaking at the Geneva Motor Show sounds rather a lot like like double speak for:

    'Motor Industry Lobby Group Trying To Suppress The European Bicycle Industry'.

    1. Jesper

      Re: Call me cynical...

      Actually.

      CONEBI as they calls themselves is a group of bike and bikeparts producers.

      They will love some more Gizmos to sell you.

      1. Autonomous Cowherds

        Re: Call me cynical...

        Interesting - this may be the 'alternative motivation' dissonance I was picking up on. Thanks for the insight.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call me cynical...

      "sounds rather a lot like like double speak for: 'Motor Industry Lobby Group Trying To Suppress The European Bicycle Industry'."

      Hope they succeed. Driving standards are bloody dismal...until you compare them to cycling standards, and the sanctimonious, whining twats who think that traffic lights, one way streets, pedestrian areas, and pedestrian crossings don't apply to them. The same shiney-shorted wankers that slow traffic down to a crawl through their inconsiderate riding, and think dual carriageways were built for knob-ends on bikes to hold time trials.

      Cyclists have every right to use the road without fear or intimidation, and with due regard by other road users. But in cycling as in all fields (including car driving), zealots are a bloody nuisance, and need to be exterminated. Actually more so in cycling, because of their pious posturing.

  3. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Great...

    Yet another attempt to shift blame onto cyclists. At the end of the day it all comes down to Inattentive Blindness on behalf of the motorist. Solve that problem and the roads would be a lot safer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great...

      or Laws don't apply to me cyclists...red lights, pavements, lights, one-way streets, junctions...

      /FlamewarOn.

      (lets face it there are dickheads using bikes, motorbikes, cars, vans trucks, mobility scooters, skateboards, feet.......)

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: Great...

        "(lets face it there are dickheads using bikes, motorbikes, cars, vans trucks, mobility scooters, skateboards, feet.......)"

        So you get it, yet you still try to start a pointless, silly argument thread?

        Yet the important this this brings up is actually that again lack of appropriate installed technology is being used as an excuse for issues not being solved, yet the real issue is attitude in most cases. What next? Same thing for pedestrians? All footware to have a transponder?

        This is why we have the age checks being brought in online, pushing the responsibility away from those who should know better to making the State responsble for seeing that everything is 'safe'.

        The worse thing is it is the relatively small amount of outliers that cause this lovely 'outrage' that then gets transmogrified into 'something is being done' that affects everyone.

        The future is not bright, the future is decidedly grey and ominous.

    2. pavsmith

      Re: Great...

      Yep, we can't find a way to make our autonomous vehicle tech see cyclists so we'll make it their problem and, no doubt, use it as a bludgeon to blame the cyclist in the event of any accident. The determination to plunge onwards to a completely immature technology is positively frightening. Would anyone be doing this if we were talking about passenger jets?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great...

        @ pavsmith

        It seems to me that autonomous vehicles are still so far from being safe enough to be tested on roads. Until autonomous driving technology can be demonstrated to as safe as an attentive, professional driver they should only be tested on tracks where conditions can be varied and tested under a safe methodology and with strenuous safety parameters. Testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in real traffic conditions is doubtlessly less expensive than having to build or rent a huge track and introduce a variety of driving conditions if you count deaths as inconsequential and I do not.

        Aside from all that, as people become more dependent on autonomous vehicles our driving skills/abilities will decrease and at some point most people wouldn't be safe to takeover the driving of a vehicle in case of a crisis.

        Luddite, certainly. :)

      2. Credas Silver badge

        Re: Great...

        Yep, we can't find a way to make our autonomous vehicle tech see cyclists

        And yet strangely the fairly basic radar my Golf uses for ACC has absolutely no problem with detecting cyclists, whether straight ahead or off to one side. It's entirely unnecessary to place the onus on cyclists to add extra equipment to broadcast their presence to badly engineered autonomous vehicles, let alone expose themselves to risk from those vehicles should their manufacturers come to rely on it to detect bicycles and the beacon fails. If tech companies want to unleash autonomous vehicles on the road then they should be responsible for operating safely, not try to make everyone else re-engineer the transport infrastructure and change their behaviour for those manufactures' convenience.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Great...

      Inattentive Blindness on behalf of the motorist

      Both sides have morons and flaws. Both need to learn that the road system is a co-operative system..

      1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: Great...

        The difference is the number of cyclists who have lost their lives in vehicle collisions against the number of motorists that have done so when in collision with a cyclist...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great...

          The difference is the number of cyclists who have lost their lives in vehicle collisions against the number of motorists that have done so when in collision with a cyclist...

          What conclusion would Darwin draw about this?

  4. I can't believe its not butter
    Holmes

    Great Idea

    And when hackers start slapping these beacons on drain covers...lamp posts...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great Idea

      I for one would be slapping one on myself and family.

      1. pavsmith

        Re: Great Idea

        What was that you were slapping?

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Great Idea

      ...on on the front of autonomous vehicles, effectively disabling them?

    3. Natalie Gritpants

      Re: Great Idea

      Or worse, dropping them from a bridge over a motorway.

      1. Chozo
        Devil

        Re: dropping them from a bridge

        Mischievous with just a hint of malice, I like it

  5. Blockchain commentard
    Big Brother

    What about putting them on prams, mobility scooters etc? Or just cut to the chase and implant them in every human so you can be tracked everywhere.

    1. pavsmith

      Isn't that the model we just discovered Facebook has been using for some time now?

    2. Dr Scrum Master
      Holmes

      ...as well as horses, cattle, sheep, cats, dogs, and whilst we're at it you may as well put them on deer (see picture).

      1. Natalie Gritpants

        You forgot badgers

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          and hedgehogs..

    3. Simon Harris Silver badge

      "implant them in every human so you can be tracked everywhere."

      Unless you're wearing a wet towel on your head.

  6. Sampler

    Great idea, rather than solve the problem of the car being able to actually identify a cyclist, trust a beacon, which, I presume requires power, something a homeless person with a bike wouldn't have access to*, but then, it's not like any of them have come a cropper with self driving cars.

    *presuming a dynamo is insufficient power, given how badly they manage lights, and there's still the matter of pushing it rather than pedalling.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Not that much power

      A radio beacon would require less power than a puny set of lights that will get a cyclist killed on an unlit road. (Reflectors are more visible than all but the most excessive bicycle lights.) A radio beacon would only require a USB port for charging, which are available for free at my local library (and on some buses).

      An EPIRBS the size of my hand made from '90s tech could summon a rescue helicopter to the factory in Croydon if someone careless set one off. (You get a very large bill if you do it twice).

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Not that much power

        "An EPIRBS the size of my hand made from '90s tech could summon a rescue helicopter to the factory in Croydon"

        Presumably to rescue you from the horror of being in Croydon.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Not that much power

          horror of being in Croydon

          Croyden isn't *that* horrible. In comparison to Slough anyway..

        2. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: Not that much power

          Presumably to rescue you from the horror of being in Croydon.

          The only helicopter that could rescue people from the horror of Croydon would be the Dignitas helicopter gunship.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Not that much power

        A radio beacon would require less power than a puny set of lights that will get a cyclist killed on an unlit road.

        A cyclist needs no help whatsoever to kill themself on an unlit road at night. Not sure how a radio tag would help there either.

        But why stop at bikes? Small children and animals should surely also be fitted, right?

        Or you could spend money reducing the likelihood of bikes and cars meeting…

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not that much power

        (Reflectors are more visible than all but the most excessive bicycle lights.)

        Ahh you one of those.

        The clue is in the name "REFLECTOR"

        A bike approaching in the dark from the left or right is pretty much invisible

        Source: living in the country and having these muppets think that reflectors, bright (or reflective) jackets are somehow a substitute for lights on an unlit road.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: Lost all faith...

          Please replace the batteries on your telepathy ray - it is giving you a false impression about me.

          I have good lights, but if a car approaches with undipped headlights I still have to wait by the side of the road for five minutes until I get my dark adaptation back. The only time I have come close to running someone down was a cyclist with puny lights and no reflector. That is why I make an extra effort to be visible and have reflectors on the wheels so I can be seen from the sides.

          By the way, how can the muppets see the road at all? If I tried to cycle at night without lights I would end up in a ditch/river/stinging nettles/thorny hedge.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "until I get my dark adaptation back"

            Do what pilots do - close one eye in such situations - at least one won't lose all adaptation.

            1. DJSpuddyLizard

              Re: "until I get my dark adaptation back"

              Do what pilots do - close one eye in such situations

              How often to aircraft pilot have to deal with oncoming cars?

              Seriously though, yes, this works. It's why pirates wore eyepatches

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Hairy Weasel

          Re: Not that much power

          Here in the Netherlands reflectors on the wheels are compulsory. All tires for everyday use are therefore sold with a reflective strip on the side.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      trust a beacon, which, I presume requires power

      Not always - as an example, the masthead reflectors that some yachts have (so increase their radar return so that megatankers will actually see them) is sometimes called a beacon.

  7. TonyJ Silver badge

    Why not...

    ...build them into the bike frames?

    There are idiot drivers an there are also idiot cyclists ,so this isn't trying to point the finger, but surely anything that helps increase the safety of everyone should be considered?

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Why not...

      Thumbs down for asking a simple question? Tough crowd today.

      1. Locky

        Re: Why not...

        There's a simple answer to that. School holidays....

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Why not...

        Thumbs down for asking a simple question? Tough crowd today.

        Have an extra downvote for being a whiny shit.

        In answer to your question: firstly, metal tubes make pretty good Faraday cages; secondly, what about the all the existing bikes out there? Do these stay invisible and we simply declare open season on them?

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Why not...

          Wow Charlie someone steal your lunch money? Forget to properly lube up your butt plug and it's chafing? Really any call for that? Typical keyboard warrior full of guts and glory when hidden and you'd shit bricks and hide behind your screen rather than speak to someone like that face to face.

          Let's see now...where to start with that...For one, open tubes don't make very good Faraday cages. I have a little RFID type tag in many of my bikes that is un-powered and responds when a reader is close - within about 2 or 3 feet actually.

          Or you know, you could also build them so that any active signal wasn't blocked.

          Did I at any point say it was a be-all and end-all to the safety? You know how many near misses I've had over the years because dickheads in motor vehicles aren't looking or paying attention?

          Probably just as many as where I've watched cyclists ignore the highway code because y'know they can.

          And yeah I cycle a lot - I used to do triathlons and still keep fit.

          It was a question. Designed to spur a conversation about the practicalities or otherwise of such things.

          But hey....don't let that stop you being an ignorant prick.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Why not...

            Forget to properly lube up your butt plug and it's chafing?

            It's the chafing I like.

            Typical keyboard warrior full of guts and glory when hidden…

            Hence the real name, 'cos I'm scared. Your passive-aggressive, value-signalling reply is worse than your initial post.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Why not...

      There are a lot of reasons, but personally, the largest one is that I should be able to choose for myself whether or not I'm willing to constantly send such a beacon.

  8. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Personally I see nothing wrong with the current situation - bells, lights that do not dazzle other road users, speed limits, the Highway Code, being aware of what's around you ... if just a few more of the muppets on bikes and twats in cars obeyed the rules the world would be a safer place.

    Misplace a few 'beacons' and all hell would break loose - imagine the carnage if one was tossed out of a window on the M25 or the North Circular ...

  9. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Reality Check.....

    S@*&% like this is why i don't fear the mythical robot uprising.

    Condensing the jargon down to the taught "Reality is too hard to code for so lets make a new one".

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Reality Check.....

      They are just lulling you into a false sense of security.

      Reality becomes a lot easier to code for if you take out that awkward "avoid killing all the humans" part.

    2. A K Stiles
      Headmaster

      Re: Reality Check.....

      "Condensing the jargon down to the taught..."

      presuming you meant "taut" rather than "taught"? There didn't seem to be any lesson in the statement?

  10. teknopaul Bronze badge

    I don't think such gadgets should be needed or compulsory.

    I do agree that we could start making roads with autonomous vehicles in mind in parallel with making autonomous vehicles fit for the existing roads.

    Develop lidar hiviz, why not.

    Just as we build road signs that are easy to see in the dark, we should build scannable ones in the future.

    We have tech that can broadcast round corners let's use it.

    Apart from in the UK, which has a helf n safety problem, the rest of the world will not blame the victim should such helpful tricks not suffice.

    What we should not do is force cyclists to pay for tech to allow car drivers to use their mobile phones.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Great thing about lidar reflectors

      Is that they're practically identical to normal reflectors.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      LIDAR probably does help trouble with a bike but you're basically right: wait for the technology to catch up so that hi-res, hi-speed cameras can be used as well.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I watched a cyclist carry on riding down the train platform, even though it was full of commuters waiting for the next train.

    What an a hole

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      I saw a moronic comment on the Register.

      What an arsehole.

      So all commenters are morons (yes, this one included)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You must be one of those over privileged commuters who thinks anything on two wheels has right of way regardless of the highway code or being considerate to other people.

        Enjoy your self righteousness.

  12. Geekpride
    FAIL

    If your self-driving car can't detect cyclists without a beacon, it is not ready to be used. Do more research & development and solve your own problems, don't expect others to pay for kit to solve it for you.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      re: without a beacon

      @geekpride

      "So, why did you run over this sheep Sir?' asked the Policeman. "Well, I'm a city slicker unused to driving across Dartmoor, and it turns out the local fauna don't show up on my mapping application'. 'Meanwhile' he continued, 'I have a confession to make concerning two ponies, and a cow.'

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: re: without a beacon

        Good joke, but if you hit a sheep at any speed:

        1) Your car will crumple (as designed) and become undrivable.

        2) The sheep will give you a dirty look and amble off quite unharmed.

        Any animal with a higher centre of gravity will probably go through your windscreen and kill you.

        1. Jan 0

          Re: re: without a beacon

          As someone who lived* by a bend on an unlit main road in darkest North Wales, I can assure you that the sheep come off worse. I can still clearly remember the tell tale sound of cars going too fast and the strange thump as the sheep died. The car will require an expensive repair, but the sheep is a write off: It's unfit for anyone but a desperate road kill eater. (Burst blood vessels and shit everywhere.)

          It still reminds me to be very well lit at night and to always pick an escape route when I hear a fast car approaching a blind bend.

          *It was North Wales, long ago, so assume small values of "living".

  13. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Tracking

    I know perfectly well that our Cheltenham based FLA and the Home Office would never consent to it, but there is no actual reason why intelligent traffic lights and so on communicating with self driving vehicles should involve any more tracking than is needed to enter and exit a junction. If it is felt that events need to be recorded to deal with possible legal liability, it would be possible to give every vehicle a temporary token for its unique set of records without storing data about its identity.

    The desire for surveillance, whether it's the Stasi, the Home Office or Sugarmountain, is one of the reasons we can't have nice things.

  14. mevets

    v2x comms

    Insisting on beacons everywhere has about the merit of painting “WARNING: TRUCK” on the sides of transports. Funny, yes; but mature?

    How about a big bright blue rotating light on any autonomous or assisted driving technology, to warn everyone that a “special” vehicle is on the prowl? If you put yourself at its mercy, that is your funeral, but shouldn’t be a surprise. Would that poor Arizona woman have any clue what danger was lurking in the shadow?

  15. gecho

    Traffic Light Detection

    A side benefit could allow traffic lights to detect cyclists better. Locally 95% of traffic lights have vehicle detectors installed, but are aimed so poorly they don't pick up cyclists. In a few spots I've discovered I have to cross the yellow line to trigger a green light. This could also enable cross traffic / overtaking warnings on cycling head units.

    I believe there is a push to put this tech in all mobile phones as well to help cars detect pedestrians. Not just autonomous vehicles, but manually driven ones with automatic braking. So its not just cyclists being targeted. Dog tags soon after that. Maybe squirrels.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Traffic Light Detection

      vehicle detectors installed, but are aimed so poorly they don't pick up cyclists

      Given that (in a lot of cases) the vehicle detectors are pressure-plates in the road I'd be surprised if they did detect a cyclist. For one thing, the cyclist is a tiny fraction of the weight of a car and, secondly, the pressure sensors tend to be in the middle of the lane.

      Dog tags soon after that

      All my pets are detectable with an approriate scanner.. Admittedly, only from a couple of inches away but that's just a bit of handwavy-science stuff away from workable..

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Traffic Light Detection

        "Given that (in a lot of cases) the vehicle detectors are pressure-plates in the road"

        Um, no. They're tuned inductive loops. And the problem is that the cycle is a tiny fraction of the metal of a car.

        Sometimes just passing the cycle frame sideways over the loop works. But so does an electromagnet or a suitable permanent magnet slung low under the frame.

        This problem with not detecting cycles and other low-metal objects is why traffic lights are _supposed_ to change direction every couple of minutes when idle.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Traffic Light Detection

      Back in the 1990's a manufacturer of temporary traffic lights skewed test results by using the fattest member of staff they could find, wearing a jacket lined with foil on a motorbike with a full fairing that had similar enhancements in order to produce a sufficient doppler radar return at a distance. As for the short horn detectors I see adorning many pedestrian crossings today, your best chance to achieve detection on bicycle apart from wearing a microwave diode singing around 12.5ghz would be a catapult & well aimed coke can. (sorry folks but flashing your headlights does not trigger them)

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Traffic Light Detection

        "As for the short horn detectors I see adorning many pedestrian crossings today, your best chance to achieve detection on bicycle apart from wearing a microwave diode singing around 12.5ghz would be a catapult & well aimed coke can."

        You don't need anything so crude as the can or as whizzy as the diode. A corner reflector works perfectly.

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Traffic Light Detection

      In my town, bicycles are detected using coils embedded in the pavement, exactly like cars are detected. They works great, as long as the bike sits over the marked spot. Maybe push for something like that in your town?

      1. gecho

        Re: Traffic Light Detection

        All our detectors are pole mounted and most are camera based. Even if they are properly calibrated they get knocked out of position the several times a year the wind hits 90+ km/h.

        They appear to be this one: https://www.econolite.com/products/detection/autoscope-encore/

  16. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    No, it's not AI

    As has been noted before on this site : equipment that has been trained to cope with a large number of possibilities is not AI. It's an expert system.

    Adding markers to known problems doesn't solve the problem. Are you going to add beacons to every possible road hazard, including the ones you haven't thought of ?

    This is the same sort of content-free thinking that's brought us DRLs - make cars more visible so you can see them. And never mind all the objects that can't easily have DRLs and therefore disappear into the background : pedestrians, animals, corners.

    You don't fix a problem by adding to the special cases. If a solution doesn't work, you find a better solution.

    Cars won't be fit to drive themselves until they can analyse a new situation, not merely recognise a known one, however many extra hints are added to make that recognition easier.

    1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: No, it's not AI

      My hatred of DRLs comes from the almost standard practise of having lights on the front and an illuminated dashboard but absolutely nothing showing at the back. I have come far too close to far too many who haven't realised that daylight has faded and that they should now be using real lights.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: No, it's not AI

        "... the almost standard practise of having lights on the front and an illuminated dashboard but absolutely nothing showing at the back..."

        Small sample size, I know, but the two vehicles I've owned with DRL's didn't turn the dashboard lights on. That only happened once the headlights were on.

        1. Not also known as SC Silver badge

          Re: No, it's not AI

          Our car has an LED dashboard so is always lit up. It also has automatic headlamps so after a while you just rely on the automatic switch on. The problem occurs when the car has been for a service and the headlamps have been switched to manual by the garage. Because the DRLs are so bright it looks to the driver (me) as if the head lamps are on and you genuinely don't realise you're driving with no rear lights. Hate it - very dangerous!

    2. really_adf

      Re: No, it's not AI

      This is the same sort of content-free thinking that's brought us DRLs - make cars more visible so you can see them.

      It seems to me that DRLs exacerbate the understandable tendency of drivers to look for cars, instead of hazards in general. One could say they train drivers to look for the lights.

      It strikes me that it would be likely for "AI" to be far more vulnerable to this effect: "looks a bit like a bicycle, no beacon detected, must be an erroneous recognition..."

      Plus I don't see how a bicycle beacon is going to help an AV control system predict action (as opposed to simply being aware of current state) considering signs an attentive human driver can readily pick up on: hand signals, looking over shoulder, pothole/puddle/ice/whatever ahead that the cyclist will move to avoid, etc.

  17. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Really?

    "It is not easy for human drivers to see cyclists on the roads,"

    In my experience, it is not easy for human drivers to see fire engines, lights and sirens going. If the drivers were not looking at their phones and listening to loud music it might be easier; still I remember the problem from before the days of cell phones.

    "... to predict their movements,"

    There is something to that. But allowing a reasonable distance might help.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      From my experience, the biggest problem with predicting the movements of cyclists isn't that they're unpredictable (any road user is, and cars should be giving cyclists ample space), it's those stupid flashing lights that some cyclists insist on having 'to make themselves more visible'.

      If you're travelling down an unlit road at night, and a cylist is coming the other way with a flashing light that strobes every second or so, and also happens to be brighter than a full beam headlight, there is no way of judging the distance or speed, while your dazzled pupils struggle to re-dilate to see the actual road in front of you. THOSE should be banned (IIRC, they once were), or at the very least strictly controlled in brightness and only allowed in combination with a steady light (which drivers can see properly, and can assess the distance and speed of).

      Really, flashing lights should be reserved for emergency vehicles; they grab attention because they are easily picked up in peripheral vision, but at the expense of actual hazards a driver (or indeed other cyclist) has to assess and deal with.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        "it's those stupid flashing lights that some cyclists insist on having 'to make themselves more visible'."

        The reason they exist is that if you are in traffic, oncoming traffic will not make out a bicycle light in most cases. The flashing gets attention. As you have proved.

        Also having a single source of light being used as a way to estimate movement when coming toward you is prone to massive error. Basically it is safer for the cyclist by far. When it comes to 2 tonnes of steel vs a lone cyclist, I think it is better to err in favour of the cyclist. If you really want to talk about lighting issues, then a far greater problem is the colour temperature of modern headlights causing serious night vision issues for other drivers.

        1. really_adf

          Re: Really?

          If you really want to talk about lighting issues, then a far greater problem is the colour temperature of modern headlights causing serious night vision issues for other drivers.

          They're bad when driving, but far, far worse when cycling. The same goes for very bright and stupidly aimed cycle lights (flashing or steady).

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          If you really want to talk about lighting issues, then a far greater problem is the colour temperature of modern headlights causing serious night vision issues for other drivers.

          I won't disagree with you there. Combined with the rather narrow angle and tight focus of many modern headlights, and the number of potholes in the poorly maintained UK roads (due to budget cuts amongst other things), I frequently can't tell whether the car behind me is flashing at me (perhaps because I have something hanging off the back of my car).

          I don't disagree with cyclists having sensible flashing lighting, in combination with a proper steady light. The problem is the ones with what is essentially a strobe light on the front of their bike. As I wrote, when driving along a fast unlit country road at night, the indication you get that there is a cyclist there is along the lines of *FLASH* 200ish metres *FLASH* 100ish metres *FLASH* right on top of you *SWERVE-CRUNCH-SWEAR* as you slow to a crawl and drive onto the verge to avoid a collision. IMHO, flashing lights should be less bright than the main light, which itself should be about as bright as a dipped headlight, and not angled to blind oncoming drivers.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        "it's those stupid flashing lights that some cyclists insist on having 'to make themselves more visible'."

        If you're talking about headlights, then I agree wholeheartedly. As a bicyclist myself, I can tell you that it's even worse if you're on a bicycle driving by an oncoming bicycle that has one of those things. They scream "I hate you and hope you die".

        Flashing red rear lights aren't so bad.

        1. really_adf

          Re: Really?

          As a bicyclist myself, I can tell you that it's even worse if you're on a bicycle driving by an oncoming bicycle that has one of those things.

          Hmm, now I think about it, since they are a near-point-source of light, they could probably be blocked by an extended middle finger...

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            Funny you mention that -- I did discover how effective that is!

  18. Ochib

    Fun and Ganes

    Let's get loads of the beacons and stick them to random street furniture and even stick them to the cats eyes.

  19. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Stop

    Bricked

    OK, I put a beacon on the bike.

    Not quite sure where/how to attach it: the attachable places of maximum visibility are taken by the lights. But let's assume I find somewhere, and it doesn't fall off.

    Now it's a piece of electronic kit with which I don't routinely interact. As a bike accessory it's lightweight and flimsy. It's getting exposed to the elements and shaken up whenever it's used. How the **** do I know when it's working and when it dies, or just needs jiggling to fix that dodgy connection?

    When a light fails, at least you can see it (though maybe not immediately in the case of a rear light). No such easy clues for your anti-victim-blame device.

    1. really_adf

      Re: Bricked

      How the **** do I know when it's working and when it dies, or just needs jiggling to fix that dodgy connection?

      You know it's stopped working when you were cycling somewhere and wake up in hospital...

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Bricked

      Incorporate this "beacon" in the lighting circuit, so that it all runs on the same battery. For a bonus, have it work with your smartphone to tell that it's there.

      The casualty list for self-driving cars raises the issue of visibility of trucks as well as cycles, but I think that a computer will understand a bike better than a typical human motorist does, without extra visibility equipment.

      The Uber fatality video as released is fuzzy and, presumably, not what the car relied on to see where it's going. To me it looks like a bicycle being walked invisibly from the unlit side road right in front of a car that can't possibly stop, but we gather that the car has other sensors and doesn't depend on seeing by the headlights, or they wouldn't be dipped. So, yes, the car should have seen the bike in the dark; the car also is entitled to expect that the bike will stop and "give way" because it's on a minor road, but you can't make the assumption that the vehicle which doesn't have priority will stop.

  20. IGnatius T Foobar

    Haven't we seen this before?

    We already have a set of roads where every possible interaction is already controlled and accounted for.

    It's called a railway.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Haven't we seen this before?

      "where every possible interaction is already controlled and accounted for."

      There may be a railway like that in Switzerland or Japan, but surely not in the UK?

  21. JohnFen Silver badge

    Wait a sec

    If autonomous cars have a greater problem with bicycles than human drivers do, that's a problem with the tech that will affect other things (such as pedestrians) as well. Slapping a beacon on bikes won't solve that issue, it's just singling out bicyclists to bear the burden that rightly belongs on the autonomous vehicle.

    What's the larger plan here, putting beacons on everything?

    This "solution" is a lame hack around an underlying problem. The better thing to do is to solve the underlying problem.

    That this is being proposed strongly implies that autonomous vehicles are a long way from being safe and reliable enough to trust on public roads.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Wait a sec

      That this is being proposed strongly implies that autonomous vehicles are a long way from being safe and reliable enough to trust on public roads.

      Nonsense.

      It's just someone opportunistically looking to create a market in a new snake-oil flavour.

  22. Daz555

    Like helmets and high viz, this is just a distraction from the real problem - the underlying infrastructure which is simply not suitable for safe cycling in far too many places all over the UK.

    1. Colabroad

      Helmets aren't a distraction, mine was very useful when I hit an icy cyclepath.

  23. Jove Bronze badge

    About time ...

    They also need to pay a road access tax so that Tax Payers are not left subsidising them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: About time ...

      We (U.K.) do, even those of us who do not drive. It is called council tax which covers upkeep of non trunk roads. Income tax which pays for the rest. You don’t believe vehicle excise duty covers the cost completely do you?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RFID tags?

    What about RFID tags? Are they already detected by driverless vehicles?

    If you can make beacons cheap enough then it would make sense to attach them to bicycles and pedestrians, and road furniture, but you'd then have to reckon with there being a lot of unattached beacons: ones that broke off or were dropped accidentally, or left hanging on a string from a branch of a tree by some joker. You could have a beacon that transmits a code that means "this beacon should be attached to a vehicle/bicycle; if found unattached and unattended, please destroy". Then it could at least be disposed of when found in a stupid place. You could also have a code that means "the police know which human this beacon was issued to", which would let you treat such a beacon slightly more seriously as there would at least be some potential embarrassment if a lot of beacons associated with the same person were to be found in stupid places: possible visit from a PCSO or whatever.

    Handheld devices to detect beacons would also have to be cheaply available to help people check that beacons are working, find them when they're lost, etcetera.

    There's a risk that beacons will be used for spam or graffiti: need to think about that aspect.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Change our behavoir...

    So it makes it easier for them to make money.

    Can I say Fuck Off on The Register forum?

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Change our behavoir...

      Yes. Yes you fucking can.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more victim blaming technology ... with more power comes more responsibility

  27. Panicnow

    Already on most cycles

    Just scan for mobile signals, Bluetooth and WiFi

    So few humans transmitterless these days

    ... Is this too good an idea for public attention???

  28. Siberian Hamster

    If we cyclists agree to beacons how about...

    making vehicles unable to turn until they put on their indicators! With a sensible 3 seconds wait time to ensure cyclists are given enough time to react.

    I guarantee that'll reduce the number of RTCs between cars and bicycles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If we cyclists agree to beacons how about...

      A better strategy would be to monitor indicator usage (and timing) to factor in to "drive safely for reduced insurance" devices.

      "Stick finger out to catch indicator as you start to turn" is irritating (because it is almost always an unnecessary behaviour) even when not a safety issue, eg when you are waiting for a car that turns off, removing the conflict (whether you are in a car, on a bike, or a pedestrian).

      Same goes for "I see no cars, so no need to signal" which I have observed as a passenger, and probably as a pedestrian. This is bad logic (you might have missed something, and signalling might allow whatever you missed to act to prevent a collision), and a waste of mental effort: just signal every time!

    2. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: If we cyclists agree to beacons how about...

      "making vehicles unable to turn until they put on their indicators! With a sensible 3 seconds wait time to ensure cyclists are given enough time to react."

      How would that work on a road with lots of bends or if a driver had to react in an emergency? You would soon get a lot more accidents if you had to put on indicators to swerve around an obstacle in the road.

      Motor biker riders have to take a test and have insurance before they can can ride on the road so why are bicyclists exempt? Sure they are more than likely going to injure themselves than others but they could still cause serious injury to a pedestrian if they hit them a speed. Potential they could also be to blame for an accident if they pulled out in front of other motorists and a driver had to swerve to avoid them and that results in a crash.

      1. Sam_B.

        Re: If we cyclists agree to beacons how about...

        Yes, they are responsible if they cause an accident or run down a pedestrian as the recent court case has shown, but the risk to other road users and pedestrians is minimal, as the statistics show. Pedestrians are the cause of more accidents, so are you going to have to have a licence to walk ?

      2. jh27

        Re: If we cyclists agree to beacons how about...

        > Motor biker riders have to take a test and have insurance before they can can ride on the road so why are bicyclists exempt?

        Because 80kg of human powered mass is a relatively small danger to others (and a relatively high danger to themselves and from others).

        > Sure they are more than likely going to injure themselves than others but they could still cause serious injury to a pedestrian if they hit them a speed.

        Yes but hitting a pedestrian at speed is a good way for a cyclist to win themselves a darwin award. In a cycle v pedestrian collision, I would put money on the cyclist coming off worst (all things being equal).

        > Potential they could also be to blame for an accident if they pulled out in front of other motorists and a driver had to swerve to avoid them and that results in a crash.

        Again, another great way to win a darwin award. Cyclists don't need punitive measures to act as deterrants - especially when the chances of being caught (even for motorists) is very low. The arguments you give could equally be argued for mandatory licensing and testing of pedestrians. They can equally cause accidents by colliding with others or 'causing'* others to swerve.

        * unless you know you can swerve safely, it is probably a better idea to brake.

  29. Reubixd

    Surely a gps enabled phone is attached to a user who is in turn attached to the bike would work? Depends on how accurate the gps info is I suppose. Or if you're right on top of a bluetooth signal hit the brakes? Hmm, might need some work.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Education

    Perhaps a bit of compulsory cyclist registration and training might help, together with the banning of those infernally bright flashing LED lights that seem to be the rage. I always thought that lighting was supposed to show a STEADY or STATIC white lamp at the front of a bike or vehicle and equally the same (in red, of course) for the rear, so doesn't that make the flashers (if you pardon the expression) technically illegal? Easily misinterpreted, I reckon, especially at night.

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Education

      I always thought that lighting was supposed to show a STEADY or STATIC white lamp at the front of a bike or vehicle and equally the same (in red, of course) for the rear, so doesn't that make the flashers (if you pardon the expression) technically illegal?

      You were correct until over a decade ago*. Here is some education. You're welcome.

      *there are an awful lot of UK non-compliant bicycle lights on the market and in use

    2. Sam_B.

      Re: Education

      Yes, flashing lights are illegal, if they don't show a constant light as well, and I'm pretty certain there are regulations about the brightness of vehicle lights, and there has been an indication that over bright after market car lights are going to be prosecuted, but unfortunately the number of police these days is so small, that even if there are rules, no-one's going to enforce them. Part of the trouble is that cyclists have spent so many years with crap little lights which had to shine straight at drivers to be seen, they haven't got used to dipping these new ones.

  31. DougS Silver badge

    What's the point?

    If autonomous vehicles don't have good enough sensors to "see" a bike in all conditions then they should be permitted on the road, because how are they going to see an animal, debris, a '57 Chevy or other items that don't have a beacon!

    The usefulness of V2V communication is predicated on the ability of TWO WAY communication. Are cyclists going to need to communicate with an on board computer prior to making a turn so their beacon can communicate the intention to autonomous cars? The cars will need to recognize hand signals[*], and cyclists will have to drive defensively and not assume the car sees/understands the signal (i.e. just like the situation today with human drivers)

    [*]The only one I use while cycling is left turn (right turn if I was in the UK) because that's what matters to cars behind me, though I do my best to turn only when there are no cars anywhere near behind me as I'd be betting my life that they aren't texting or otherwise distracted! Drivers don't have any reason to care if I'm turning right - and in fact I don't want them to know because if they plan to turn right as well they might think they can turn 'around' me, so it is advantageous for me to let them believe I plan to continue straight. There isn't any benefit to them knowing I plan to stop, because if I'm stopping it is because there's a stop sign or stoplight which they will have to obey as well.

  32. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Uh yeah, right

    And while you're at it, put beacons on moose, cows and pedestrians too.

    I've already posted elsewhere about why USA-programmed road robots are inherently unsafe due to cultural assumptions ingrained by a century of lobbying by the motor industry that have resulted in road priority rules that thankfully haven't spread much beyond those shores.

    In some parts of the world if a motorist runs someone over, bystanders will beat him or her to death (the motorist, not the traffic victim). It makes for far more cautious driving.

  33. murrby

    And when the battery goes flat?

    And if the beacon battery goes flat does that make the cyclist responsible for any accident?

    Pure cop-out by the autonomous lobby who might be finally starting to realise that the whole problem is a lot harder than they thought.

  34. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Newfoundland called...

    They've got a bunch of highway-wandering 3/4-ton moose (mooses? meese?) that will also require such beacons to be installed. To protect the cars and their passengers.

    So they'll need about 110,00 beacons, a couple of step ladders, a couple of staplers, and some volunteers. Don't worry, they're very friendly. Thanks.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Newfoundland called...

      "mooses? meese?"

      A moose bit my sister once.

  35. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Coat

    Yeah, I've noticed that...

    "It is not easy for human drivers to see cyclists on the roads, to predict their movements"

    As in, "Sorry mate, I didn't see you". It is extremely difficult, having been told by work-colleagues that your attire is... somewhat garish and reflective, to resist the temptation to respond with, "Are you FUCKING BLIND!"

    Cyclists movements are quite easy to predict, they react to uneven road surfaces and potholes, they move their mass before turning. Many good ones even use the approved hand gestures for signalling their intentions (some use unapproved hand-gestures for signalling their emotions). Conversely, on most other vehicles, you can't tell what the driver is doing, windscreen reflection can obscure the driver entirely.

    I'm wondering whether the low accident rate in the Netherlands is related to more drivers also having significant cycling experience. Perhaps it should be compulsory to pass a cycling exam before being allowed to learn a motor vehicle?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Yeah, I've noticed that...

      "I'm wondering whether the low accident rate in the Netherlands is related to more drivers also having significant cycling experience"

      Or experience of dented roofs when they piss off cyclists.

      Perhaps UK cyclists should try that more often.

  36. Mycho Silver badge

    Given that Blighty doesn't even seem to have adopted things like internal gears and chains to avoid ruining your suit, I don't see this taking off there any time soon.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All in or none in

    To be effective any system like this needs to have high populatons of both beacons and detectors.

    Vast market penetration (ooh err) of autonomous cars isn't going to happen very quickly, so unless there is legislation motor vehicle deployment is going to be a function of prices for independent units,deployment into new cars and the insurance market.

    That's going to be glacial.

    Even with non-draconian legislation it's still going to take years before enough vehicles are fitted to really make a difference and some vehicles (which may well be driven by inattentive drivers) will never have detectors fitted.

    It's a pretty dire situation on the beacon side too,especially where margins are really tight in the cheaper BSO (bike shaped object -£100 supermarket 'bike') end of the market or on the sort of knackered old bikes which never get serviced and are often ridden without lights etc.

    I don't think the beacon idea will ever work techically without draconian legislation which just isn't going to happen.

    The only solution is to look towards detection of mobiles which most people carry-some sort of Doppler type system built into the phone OS perhaps? Rollout would be automatic and fairly quick- 3 OSs cover almost all the market and OS updates/new phone sales are much quicker thsn car replacement or service cycles.

    But detectors are piffle. What would really make a difference isn't tech- it's spending more on cycling infrastructure everywhere and more attentive drivers and cyclists everywhere.

  38. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Cycling is a Victorian mode of transport...

    ... and ought to be taken off the roads as completely unsafe. Treat it just like horseriding - an interesting recreation and sport, but no longer a practical or safe mode of transport.

    1. Sam_B.

      Re: Cycling is a Victorian mode of transport...

      Cars are also a Victorian mode of transport, and much less suited to city roads, and the health of the planet and the user, than cycles are.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Cycling is a Victorian mode of transport...

      Horses are unlikely to be banned. The Queen and Police ride horses.

      (So do U2 and The Osmonds.)

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    chat to auto autos

    "You're too close you dirty... You're TOO CLOSE!!! YOU'RE..."

    "FUCK OFF! YOU DON'T PAY ROAD TAX! DIE!!! DIE!!! DIE!!!"

    ...

    WIRECUNT!!!!

    TINSHIT!!!

  40. Sam_B.

    This is going to be the whole thing with driverless cars: Can't make the technology safe for normal road use, so adapt the roads and the users to fit the driverless cars. As soon as drivers, and their cars are assuming cyclists have beacons, there will be a lot more cyclists without beacons getting run down, not to mention the pedestrians. This may be ok in the U.S. where it's already illegal to walk across the road, but will mean huge changes in the U.K.

  41. jimmy-o

    really?

    What they need are visual fiducials to interact with the laser scanners and cameras. Something with retororeflective properties. Maybe something just like the reflectors that are already all over bikes and bikewear?

  42. GX5000
    Facepalm

    Oh FFS

    You mean that someone will now be able to remote hack you into a car or your car will take out a cycle as per Shodan. When will people learn, You can't fix stupid, you can only make it worse.

  43. gnarlymarley

    survival of the fittest? I guess this would somewhat work until the dark clothing folks forget to change the battery in their "beacon"

  44. Stu Mac

    Just get the bicycles off the road altogether.

    Sensible policies etc etc

  45. jon_catling

    Technological inspired complacency?

    Do we keep demanding each and every bicycle carries a plethora of technologically, visually assistive hardware, taking the [perceived] onus of care away from the driver of motor vehicles - if there even is a driver - does anyone take a perfect, simple, enjoyable, healthy and sustainable form of transport seriously - or is this about marginalising the bicycle, and we are all being gradually pushed toward purchasing electric boxes?

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