Glasgow City Council has deployed a new wireless technology that holds traffic at busy junctions to allow a bike bus of children to cross safely on their way to school.

A bike bus refers to a group of people who follow a timetable to cycle together on a set route. For example, every Friday morning, the Shawlands Bike Bus collects children from the southside of Glasgow and escorts them to Shawlands Primary School.

Shawlands Bike Bus launched in 2021 to encourage children to choose active and sustainable transportation

Part of the Shawlands Bike Bus rote route includes the busy Shawlands Cross junction and involves a right turn into Kilmarnock Road. The group has previously experienced problems with safely escorting 50–60 riders across the junction in time and have found that frustrated drivers move too close to the children and use their horns once the signal turns green.

To combat this problem, a remote-controlled wireless transmitter is now used to hold the traffic for longer at the junction.

The Ultra-Smart Cycle System is mounted on the Shawlands Bus Bike lead rider’s bike. It uses a military-grade encrypted signal that, when pressed on approach to the junction, sets a specially timed traffic light cycle in motion to hold traffic for 45 seconds.

This new smart technology is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK and was developed for Glasgow City Council.

Gareth Johnson, one of the organisers of the Shawlands Bike Bus, said:

Ultimately we'd like safe segregated cycle infrastructure so all children in Glasgow that want to can safely cycle to school, but in the interim, we are extremely grateful to the council for providing this new bit of technology.

The junction is really busy and with a lot of young children on our bike bus giving us that little bit of extra time to safely navigate the junction is a game-changer for us.

The signal is only accepted by the control unit on a pre-programmed day, during the agreed period of between 8:30am and 9am on Fridays.

This solution was developed by the council’s TRAFFCOM traffic management service in collaboration with Sm@rt Technology.

The council’s Road Safety Unit has also previously supplied high-vis vests and cycle helmet cameras to the bike bus riders and fitted banners along the bike bus route to inform drivers of the event. In addition, Police Scotland has shown their support by riding with the children.

Following the success of the Shawlands Bike Bus, the council is now initiating discussions with parents from six other schools across the city who are looking to develop safe cycle to school routes.

Councillor Angus Millar, the city's climate convenor, said:

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to provide safe, active travel routes for everyone and I am delighted that council colleagues were able to offer a solution to this problem in a very short space of time, during the school break.

Making cycling a safe, easy and attractive option for people and especially young people is at the heart of our efforts to promote sustainable transport.

This bit of kit is a fairly simple solution to a road safety problem that is probably experienced in cities up and down the country and I hope that what we've developed for Glasgow can be replicated to help similar bike bus schemes.


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