Atkins pioneer road safety technology in Middle East

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Sensors which give cyclists a head start over motorists at traffic lights are part of a new approach to Middle East road safety being developed by Atkins.

The firm’s associate director Ian Machen, a specialist in intelligent transport systems, says authorities in the region are looking to adopt technologies which will create user-friendly environments for cyclists and pedestrians.

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The creation of cycle friendly environments could entail layout changes to traffic light junctions, where sensors will detect cyclists and allow them to move off before cars get the green light.

Intelligent sensors could also be used to detect when pedestrians are still crossing a road to ensure traffic lights don’t change too early.

The move is driven by a push to change the emphasis of the region’s cities to support alternative modes of transport and healthier lifestyles which are less dependent on cars.

These include a pedestrian and bikeway masterplan for Abu Dhabi which Atkins worked on.

Machen said: “Government authorities in the UAE and Qatar, in particular, have developed advanced pedestrian and cycling strategies in recent years.

“Health and safety concerns are critical because nobody wants to take unnecessary risks just to take a bike ride or to cross the road, and there are already some great technological solutions.

“We’re working closely with government clients in the region at the moment to understand the full implications of taking on new systems, such as the physical changes needed for the roads infrastructure. It’s an exciting time and it will result in improvements in safety for all.”

“The technologies we’re talking about are two to three years old, and there’s always a lag from development to policy change to implementation.

“They’re now being adopted in parts of Europe and the US, and leading GCC cities are hot on their heels.”

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