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The New “Bike Connect” App Turns Traffic Lights Green for Cyclists

By Monica Buck

200 US dollars. That’s all it cost to create a potentially game-changing application that should trigger a “green wave” for bike riders in urban areas.

Two professors from the University of Oregon, Stephen Fickas, specializing in computer science, and Marc Schlossberg, an expert on city and regional planning, came up with a way to allow people to ride along busy streets quickly and efficiently. Their app, which has its origins in Fickas’ “Internet of Things” class, communicates with traffic lights and has already been put to use.

The two academics received a $67,000 grant to test the app on the streets of the university’s hometown of Eugene. Ten cyclists used it for a period of nine months when cycling to and from campus. When they approached a traffic signal near the university, an indicator in the app turned from grey to yellow, notifying the riders that the traffic light was alerted of their presence and speed. Once the traffic light turned green, so did the light on the app.

University of Oregon in Eugene. © Profimedia, Alamy

The scientists deemed the trial a success, claiming it worked 80 per cent of the time. They are now looking for further funding, in ideal case to develop a small device that could be mounted on handlebars and would indicate if a rider should speed up or slow down when approaching a traffic signal. Their ultimate goal is the perfect “green wave”.

Applications such as Bike Connect could be the answer to the inevitable future of autonomous cars, which should be able to communicate with road infrastructure from the very beginning of their existence.

Would you want a device similar to Bike Connect mounted on your handlebars? Let us know.