19 January 2011

LED Lights Warn Motorists and Protect Cyclists

This. Is. Brilliant.

Once again, once again it's the Dutch who refuse to Ignore The Bull and choose instead to place the responsibility on the motorists. There is the External Airbags on Cars to protect cyclists and pedestrians and now there is this.

Look at that film. Not only are there speed bumps in place to slow cars (and provide the cyclists with an even surface), the LED lights warn cars when bicycles are crossing. At the moment there are LED pedestrian crossings at some 20 locations in the Netherlands. In Papendrecht there is now a variation on a roundabout for cyclists as well.

According to local authorities this is intended to be a sustainably safe roundabout because of the elevated bicycle and pedestrian crossings and islands.

But apparently these measures were insufficient to ensure the safety of cyclists, so additional striking LED lighting was installed in the road surface. The manufacturer provided software made specifically for this location, which would ensure reliable detection of cyclists.

The use of LED lights to warn drivers of cyclists is not entirely novel. At the Nansenplein roundabout in Goes, LED lights have been incorporated into the road surface that start flashing when cyclists are approaching. At the same time the warning signs on either side of the crossing will light up as well.

The Dutch Fietsberaad says that "the use of flashing LEDs is controversial, however. According to opponents to this approach, drivers might start counting on being warned of cyclists by means of LEDs, even where this is not the case".

However, a combination of lights and speedbumps, however, make this solution quite brilliant indeed.

Copenhagen is experimenting with LED lights to warn motorists about the prescence of cyclists. You can read about this and see a film about it in this earlier post, LED Lights for Cyclists and Motorists

Via: Fietsberaad


Kim said...

This is a great example of how to make separated infrastructure work. One of the major criticisms of separated infrastructure here in the UK is that at some point it has to cross the motor traffic. Here is how to deal with that, give the pedestrians and cyclists priority, that is the way it should be!

Green Idea Factory said...

You wrote:

"The Dutch Fietsberaad says that 'the use of flashing LEDs is controversial, however. According to opponents to this approach, drivers might start counting on being warned of cyclists by means of LEDs, even where this is not the case'.

This is my main criticism - it is a type of hyper-illumination.

BUT then you wrote:

"However, a combination of lights and speedbumps, however, make this solution quite brilliant indeed."

WHAT if people expect lights AND speedbumps? Do you see how many cars are not slowed by speedbumps?

The responsibility here is not being put on the drivers as much as it being put on the road. That is fine and may work, but there is a distinction. Putting the responsibility on the driver would include an impossibility to go fast near a cyclist, rather than a heavily-marketed direction. But again, this solution (perhaps enabled by GPS etc.) only works where it is installed.

Mikael said...

Sharper, steeper speed bumps.

Edward Scoble said...

Loved the idea, but doesn't that just add more light pollution in an already bright cities? i.e. too many bright red, white, amber green light all over the place sporadically.

Tucker said...

We have finally been getting something like this for pedestrians, except the lights are mounted on the sign posts rather than at ground level. I would love to see more, and ones for bike crossing too.

Frits B said...

As GIF says, this is an overload of visual signals. When the novelty wears off, people - read drivers - will no longer consciously look out for crossing cyclists.

Interestingly, a note in Dutch following this article says that this solution to keep accidents at bay at the Nansenplein in Goes was chosen because a cycle tunnel would be too costly, at 7 million Euro. I wonder what the cost of this illumination is?

I live on a busy road, next door to a hospital with a complicated crossing. At the moment this is regulated by traffic lights which cause long waiting times and tailbacks. This year the entire crossing will be redesigned with tunnels under the main road for crossing cars and cyclists. That I think is a better way to keep things safe, even when the initial outlay may be higher.

Daniel Sparing said...

In fact, Sustainable Safety is not a general term, but the name of the leading Dutch concept for safe road design and other educational etc. principles, which leads to the safest roads on earth.

Otherwise, I do not like this LED solution at all: drivers should drive slow enough to recognize pedestrians and cyclists with their own naked eye.

This is not scalable: installing LEDs here leads to drivers requiring and expecting them at other locations. And what about when there are (luckily) a lot of cyclists? Then we have christmas lights the whole year?

Holger said...

I would prefer railway like gates insted of the flashing light.
Should give even more security in seperation.

Kiwehtin said...

This being the Netherlands, social attitudes will be more bike-friendly in general. I will never forget the set of pedestrian-activated flashing lights at a crossing on a major highway near where I lived near Washington DC. These were the large yellow flashers suspended one over each lane variety, designed so that a motorist could not possibly fail to see them in time and react accordingly. Next to the button on the post at the side of the road was a sign that warned: DRIVERS MAY NOT STOP.

So what use was this whole setup then? You have to change social attitudes or make it physically impossible or inconvenient for drivers not to respect pedestrian right of way.

LED lighting said...

If it saves one life it is worth it. Most people are curtious, if they are forewarned they will slow down. The LED's are cheap to run and they last a long time.

Anonymous said...

This post ignores the big picture. This place is terribly designed altogether. The people who drive, cycle, live, or work near this location are undergoing a typical mediocre example of contemporary urban design in modern Europe. Mountains of procedure and regulation results in horrible place-making (with or without LED lighting).

Bob Fosse had an expression for this sort of thing: bronzing a turd.

Anonymous said...

Esteban, que te he dicho que dejes de hacer el payaso.

Daniel Sparing said...

@LED Lighting

(I can't help but think that you are related to this project. :)

Of course, everyone would love to save lives, don't get me wrong.

But those people who would like to ban cycling, for example, they are doing it also to save lives. Saving lives is hard in transport planning.

The issue is that every safety measure has a counter-effect. Because of smart systems in our cars, drivers also become more reckless because they are aware of these systems. You have a certain risk appetite which does not change.

At every safety measure you have to look at this risk. In case of this LEDs, the risk is that drivers expect LEDs at other points too, or here when they are not working, and don't pay attention at that time.

This solution might be perfect for this particular, difficult intersection. But when I said it is not scalable was based on these thoughts of risk compensation above.

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