Liverpool City Council has invested in a series of thermal imaging cameras in an attempt to make cycling in the city safer, and therefore increase the numbers of people taking to their bikes and not using cars.
It’s bought FLIR’s ThermiCam thermal traffic sensors for use at two busy intersections as part of a policy to encourage 30,000 more people to cycle. Officials say they are keen to make cycling easier and more convenient and will invest in the creation of a network of safe cycle routes, improvements in safety training and enforcement, and ensuring that cycling is included in council policies.
Bike priority signalised junctions have been introduced at the Vauxhall Road and Pall Mall intersections, with a signal displaying a green bike coming on before the full green for other traffic, allowing cyclists a five second head start on other vehicles. The signals are powered by the FLIR ThermiCam sensors, which detect cyclists and distinguish them from other vehicles, meaning the advance lights are not used when there are no cyclists, avoiding delays to other road users.
“The two junctions on Leeds Street were designed to make cyclists more confident in our city traffic and at the same time, increase awareness with motorists about the presence of cyclists,” says James Leeming, Senior Project Manager at the Liverpool City Council. “If cyclists coming from Vauxhall Road and Pall Mall want to cross Leeds Street, they have to effectively cross six lanes. In the previous traffic layout, cyclists had to cross the junction at the same time as traffic. For some cyclists, this is often not enough. Not to mention how dangerous it can be when big vehicles and cyclists cross the street together in a crowded traffic situation at pinch points.
“Leeds Street is a major strategic route into Liverpool so we certainly did not want to add an additional ‘cycle’ stage, on top of the normal traffic signal stages and increase waiting times for both cyclists and motor vehicles, creating frustration. Instead, we proposed a demand-based head start for cyclists without long intergreen periods that activated when cyclists arrived at the intersection so they also get the use of the following full green stage. To make this happen we needed reliable cycle detection. We knew FLIR Systems would be able to help us with that.”
Both Vauxhall Road and Pall Mall now have a ThermiCam unit on both sides of Leeds Street. ThermiCam uses the thermal energy emitted from vehicles and cyclists, enabling the sensor to detect vehicles and bikes in the darkest of nights, over a long range and in the most difficult weather conditions.