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Glasgow tests wireless tech to support ‘Bike Bus’ for schoolchildren

Children on Bike Bus run
Image source: Glasgow City Council

Glasgow City Council has said it has successfully run the first test of a wireless technology to help a ‘Bike Bus’ of schoolchildren cross junctions safely.

It has used the Ultra-Smart Cycle System for the Shawlands Bike Bus at the Shawlands Cross junction in the south of the city and is now in talks with groups of parents to use it more widely.

The Bike Bus – which can number up to 60 children – collects them from the local area to cycle along a prescribed route to Shawlands Primary School.

Glasgow’s Traffcom traffic management service has worked with Preston based [email protected] Technology to develop the prototype, which helps groups of schoolchildren cyclists to cross busy junctions.

It involves the adult lead rider pressing the button on a wireless transmitter than sends a military grade encrypted signal to a control unit mounted on a pole at the junction. This sets a specially time traffic light signal to hold traffic for 45 seconds to allow all of the riders through.

The system is currently set to accept the signal between 8.30-9.00 am on Fridays.

Further support

The council’s Road Safety Unit has also provided hi viz vests, cycle helmet cameras and banners along the route to inform drivers of the event, and Police Scotland provided officers to ride with the children.

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."

Safe infrastructure 

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." 

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