Smart cycling pilot project wins Flemish Road Safety Award

A pilot of the North Sea Region project BITS has been awarded for their ground-breaking use of 3-D camera technology to make Antwerp’s roads safer for cyclists.

On 10 March, at the Flemish Road Safety Congress 2020, the Province of Antwerp, Bicycles and Intelligent Transport Systems (BITS) project partner, won the prestigious Flemish Road Safety Award for their BITS pilot using 3D-camera technology to improve road safety for cyclists.

Detection of near misses involving cyclists

The Province of Antwerp installed 3D-camera technology at an intersection including the F18 Cycle Highway, a traffic lane and the railway to monitor traffic behavior. The images are automatically processed, dividing all road users in different categories, such as pedestrians, cyclists, light and heavy traffic.

The trajectory, speed and time of every road user is registered, which enables the detection of near misses. At the Congress, Luk Lemmens, Legal Representative for Mobility highlighted the data that has been collected so far:

“A daily average of 24 near accidents between cyclists was detected. Additionally, the number of near accidents between cyclists and motorised traffic (daily average of eight) is as high as the number of near accidents between motorised traffic (daily average of seven).” The  data will  guide the development and implementation of effective road safety measures. For more details about the pilot and retrieved data, watch this video by the Province of Antwerp (in Dutch).

A 3D camera is being installed next to the road to monitor near accidents. Photo: The BITS project.

BITS – a unique initiative

The pilot is part of the wider BITS project strategy to improve cycling conditions through Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). BITS is a project where different cities and regions, universities, a company and an interest group from 5 countries collaborate to implement ITS applications in cycling by collecting, combining, analysing and opening up cycling data.

BITS is likely the only initiative of its kind in the world. The Antwerp pilot project focuses on safety and reliability, which are fundamental to improve cycling conditions. According to the European Commission, 2,000 cyclist fatalities were recorded in the EU in 2016 , accounting for 8% of all road fatalities including motorways and non-urban areas. When looking at urban road fatalities only, the percentage is likely much higher.

Ronald Jorna, BITS Project Manager from the Dutch Province of Overijssel, believes the success of this pilot sets the tone for our future BITS pilots: “The 3D-camera project in the Province of Antwerp clearly shows that ITS can help to improve the safety of cyclists. We expect that other ITS implementations in the BITS project will show that ITS can also improve the speed, comfort and/or cycling experience. ITS will make cycling smarter and thus more attractive!”

Fostering cycling is especially important in the context of the EU Green Deal. One of the key objectives is for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world. Urban areas account for a substantial part of transport emissions in the EU; 23% of the total CO2 emissions from transport happens in places where about 70% of the EU population are living.

Photo: Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Cities are thus essential to achieving the goal of climate neutrality. Urban mobility is a key element, which is reflected by the Commission’s plan to adopt a strategy for sustainable and smart mobility as part of the Green Deal, due in Autumn 2020. Cycling is an  efficient and sustainable mobility alternative that can be used for commuting and first- and last-mile deliveries. It can thus play an important role in cutting urban emissions. According to the European Cyclists Federation, cycling saves emissions of more than 16 million tons of CO2 per year in the EU.

The success of the pilot in Antwerpen is already sparking further developments among other BITS partners. The City of Zwolle (Netherlands) is considering using a similar type of camera system to improve cyclist safety, and the University of Oldenburg (Germany) have carried out some data analysis for the further development of the used camera system, manufactured by the Swedish company Viscando. The pilot has been presented to approximately 90 delegates during the highly successful BITS Academy on Cycling Data in Antwerp.

Congratulations to Luk Lemmens, Tina Caers and the entire Province of Antwerp team who worked on this pilot!

Learn more about the BITS project on their website and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ayse Sumer is Programme and Networks Manager at Cycling Industries Europe (CIE). She is coordinating CIE’s part of the BITS project. Before joining CIE, Ayse worked for an NGO representing European consumers as Programme Manager of the Traffic and Mobility Working Group, focusing on the development of standards related to bicycles amongst other topics. If you have any questions about BITS, please contact Ayse Sumer at a.sumer@cyclingindustries.com.


Top image: The BITS project.

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