TfL Bike Detection Technology Will Give London Cyclists Priority at Traffic Lights

By James O Malley on at

In 1936, Cable Street in East London was the site of an important moment in the battle against British fascism - as a coalition of left-wing groups faced down the British Union of Fascists, led by Hitler-enthusiast Oswald Mosley.

Just 79 years later, the road looks set to be the site of another glorious victory: Another triumph of cyclists against the hegemony of the car.

Transport for London (TfL) has today announced plans to test a new technology on Cable Street that will detect the number of cyclists waiting at junctions along Cycle Superhighway Three - one of the blue strips of paint that is laughably supposed to make the roads safer for bikes. The idea is that when bikes are detected at junctions, it will change the priority of the traffic lights to give the bikes more time on green at peak times.

Two different types of tech are being trialled - both a thermal and radar detection system, to see which works better. This is apparently the first of four trials, which if successful could see the technology rolled out across London.

Apparently the detection technology builds on the existing "SCOOT" ("Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique") system that manages traffic light priority for pedestrians and cars at major junctions on a second-by-second basis. This has already been rolled out to 90 per cent of road junctions in Central London, and is said to have reduced delays by 12 per cent.

This also coincides with the approval by the Department of Transport for TfL to start adding low-level cycle signals to traffic lights, much like is used all over Europe.

So it is a good day for cyclists - and hopefully the latest salvo in the war to make London into a Netherlands-style utopia, with proper segregated cycle lanes, and no need for bikes to ever be in the same lane as the massive lorries that are involved in almost every fatal collision. Here's hoping, anyway.