Over in Westminster, encouraging people to cycle to work is all the rage. Even the Prime Minister has donned a helmet to show us all how it is done (thanks, Dave). It’s a message which seems to be sinking in; the city’s startup and tech communities have a particularly enthusiastic approach to two-wheeled road use, spurred on by the success of movements like Techbikers and their long distance charity rides.
It seems as if we are never done hearing about the benefits of cycling. ‘It’s good for you.’ ‘It’s good for your bank balance.’ ‘It’s good for the environment.’ ‘It eases congestion.’ Okay, we understand, cycling is great, it’s a given.
But would-be peddlers in the capital are well advised to exercise a cautious approach. Not a week goes by when we don't hear of someone being killed or seriously injured while navigating the higgledy-piggledy highways and byways of London on their way to or from work. Last November, six cyclists were killed in the city within a fortnight. Taking to two wheels is always dangerous; no amount of posturing about potential benefits is going to change that.
We have noticed however, some progress being made on this matter. In particular, there’s been a real upsurge in the number and variety of startups that hope to improve the safety of cyclists through a range of hi-tech and low-tech gadgetry. We've already profiled Emily Brooke from Blaze which makes high-tech bike wear and gadgets. And it's a trend: everything from invisible helmets from Hövding to fancy laser lights from Blaze have been showcased in the last year and they are all hoping to be the next big thing in this rapidly expanding market place.
With so many of our members choosing to cycle to our workspaces, bike safety is a huge concern for us. When we came across a fantastic new startup with the potential to make a real difference to the safety of London's cyclists, we had to share it with you.
Swerve is a new idea grounded in common sense and simplicity. It collects data about road accidents involving cyclists in London. Once collected the results are displayed on a map which outlines information on the incident which has taken place including what happened, who was at fault and the severity of the injury sustained. It is quite a sobering experience to see just how many people are killed or seriously injured within a relatively small area. The site makes cycling sound terrifying but it could eventually be something of a game-changer for the cities cyclists. The idea is that, once enough incident data has been compiled, anyone planning a journey by bike in London will be able to further reduce their chances of injury by using the map to plan a route with the best possible safety record.
But this is not just about collating data on serious accidents. The team at Swerve want to make sure that they have a comprehensive overview of any traffic incidents which take place - that is why spreading the word about the project is so important.
Of course, such an approach in no way guarantees your safety in the saddle, but anything which helps to reduce the danger on London roads is certainly a welcome addition. Be sure to spread the word and stay safe!
By Eoin O'Hara
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