New ‘intelligent’ traffic lights that can prioritise bicycles and buses over cars and lorries could be introduced to London roads if trials are successful.

Utilising a network of 2,500 roadside scanners, which recognise and remember different vehicle types, the lights will first be trialled across 50 square miles of Milton Keynes next year. They will initially provide a live traffic jam map, but after a year of gathering data it is hoped that they can be linked to a traffic management system.

The cameras detect queuing traffic and can make the green light phase last longer if there are a large amount of buses, bicycles or ambulances waiting. Developers Vivacity Labs say the system could reduce congestion by judging when there is no traffic in a lane turning right, meaning that phase of the light cycle can be skipped if unnecessary. It hopes the scheme will encourage people to cycle and use public transport more frequently.

"Cyclists are vulnerable, so if other drivers flout the rules and don’t pay attention to those around them, no amount of traffic measures will help reduce the number killed and seriously injured each year."

David Robinson
senior serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors.

According to provisional statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT), 3,430 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in the year ending September 2016, up two percent on the year prior.

“Cycling provides a variety of health benefits and we would encourage everyone to cycle regularly, but outdated safety measures on many of our roads make this unnecessarily dangerous,” says David Robinson, senior serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors.

“Smarter traffic measures are much needed and will hopefully mean cyclists are better protected when going from A to B. Members of staff at Thompsons’ office in London have already reported the positive impact of existing cameras at traffic lights, which recognise a build-up of cyclists and change the lights accordingly. Such measures shall hopefully stop bad cyclists from trying to ‘take a chance’ if they have been waiting too long.

“This cannot, however, be a substitution for the education of drivers and appropriate sanctions for dangerous driving. Cyclists are vulnerable, so if other drivers flout the rules and don’t pay attention to those around them, no amount of traffic measures will help reduce the number killed and seriously injured each year.”