Bike safety app puts the brakes on road tragedies

Jul 17, 2015 -- An ingenious new Australian smartphone app could help curb thousands of tragic cycling deaths around the world each year.

The first-of-its-kind app uses cutting-edge mapping technology from industry leaders Esri Australia to establish a virtual fence – known as a geofence – around a cyclist and motorist.

Bike Bell is the brain child of cycling enthusiast and developer Tim Price who was inspired to create the app while riding to work each day on the dangerous, winding roads just outside Hobart.

Bike Bell works by simply putting an invisible geofence around a cyclist and drivers who have downloaded the app to their smartphone.

When the two geofences connect, a warning bell is triggered on the driver’s phone who also has the app, alerting them to the cyclist’s presence and giving them time to take precautionary actions.

From July, cyclists and drivers can download the app for the price of a post-ride cappuccino and participate in an international trial involving enthusiasts from Australia, New Zealand, France and Portland, Oregon.

Mr Price of RIA Mobile who has built a career working with location mapping technology felt compelled to use his expertise to make a difference to the cycling community.

“Like most cyclists, I’ve been involved in some pretty hairy situations on the road, typically involving large buses and trucks that have limited visibility,” Mr Price, who is also a former champion triathlete, said.

“I wanted to develop a user-friendly app that would encourage all road users to think and act differently when it came to sharing the road.

“Bike Bell helps drivers and pedestrians know where cyclists are, which is particularly useful in heavy traffic and bad weather, or on roads with blind spots, or where riders approach pedestrians from behind on shared bike paths.

“With the majority of Australians smartphone users, an app removes the need for expensive new equipment.”

The increasing popularity of cycling in Australia and around the world has also seen a corresponding rise in fatalities.

A report by the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport states 35 Australian cyclists are killed on the roads each year.

Esri Australia transport industry specialist Evan Quick said Bike Bell was built on ‘universal technology’ and could be used to save lives in any country around the world.

“Australia has a disturbing record when it comes to cyclist deaths on the road, but we are not alone in facing these kinds of tragedies,” Mr Quick said.

“However, the user-friendliness of location mapping technology and the widespread use of mobile devices means this app can be used virtually anywhere, no matter what language is spoken or what the road rules are.

The app trial is endorsed by the Amy Gillett Foundation – the leading bike safety organisation in Australia. 

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