Bicycle and ITS: Using Smart Cameras to increase bicycle safety

By Ronald Jorna / Updated: 25 Oct 2021
near accident mapping of Bornem intersection

Traffic safety has been an important theme in transport planning for years. Increasingly, governments from the broader European level right down to the local level have set themselves the goal to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero, with a willingness to invest in order to achieve it.

At the same time, we see the difficulties in realising these types of goals. The EU, for example, has failed to halve the number of traffic fatalities between 2010 and 2020 despite already making similar commitments. In the Netherlands, with ever increasing ridership and growing traffic volumes, the number of cyclist fatalities increased last year. So we ask: How can ITS help us overcome this challenge?

When tackling traffic safety bottlenecks, there is still a tendency to rely on crash data. The disadvantage of this is that a bottleneck only becomes apparent after something has actually gone wrong, and specific location data can be unclear. In addition, the frequency of incidents at this location may be limited to just one or a few (a low N where ‘N’ equals the number of incidents), making it sometimes difficult to determine whether it was an exceptional case or whether action is actually required. This reactive approach is sometimes accompanied by subjective input from residents through participation evenings, complaints, and reports. These concerns frequently involve subjective insecurity, where hard data to support the feeling of lack of safety can be inadequate.

Here is where conflict analyses with the use of smart cameras offers new opportunities. Cameras register the various types of road users, the route they use, and the speed at which they are travelling. Even near-misses or near-conflicts are registered. The outcome is hard data, with a high ‘N’, and insight into the types of conflicts and the behaviour of the road users. In this way, a more targeted and pro-active approach or intervention can be carried out (see also: Insight into conflict situations in MobiliteitsPlatform 2021- in Dutch).

The article gives some good examples from Belgium and The Netherlands of how smart cameras can contribute to road safety, for not just cyclists, but also for other road users. It can measure safety, help to redesign dangerous intersections, help prioritize intersections and save costs.

Safety and urban mobility