Two extraordinary ways to make traffic in the city a little safer

We already have a lot of technological developments around cars and other motor based road users. However, technologies designed to make traffic safer for pedestrians and cyclists are not that common, but they are upcoming!

The dancing traffic light


Smart, the manufacturer of the Smart cars, introduced the dancing traffic light. Set up as a marketing campaign, the introduction of these clever lights actually did lead towards a safer city. Their test results showed that the innovation dropped Jaywalking, crossing the street recklessly, by 81 percent where the Dancing Traffic Lights were installed. This campaign was part of their WhatAreYouFOR campaign, to push for innovations that will make cities safer in a non-conventional way.

So how does this dancing traffic light works? First Smart installed motion capturing cameras in a disco booth, away from the place where the traffic lights were located. These motion capturing cameras translated real-time movements from volunteer dancers, who could dance in their own private mini-disco. These movements were translated onto the ‘Do Not Cross’ sticky figure onto the traffic light. Instead of a boring red man standing still in the traffic light box, the LED traffic light show a red sticky figure doing all kinds of crazy dance moves that the volunteers came up with. What happened next is that people are entertained while waiting. Restless pedestrians were way more likely to wait instead of crossing the street, which is of course much safer then Jaywalking.

Cyclist Airbag

Another non- conventional idea is the cyclist airbag. It will definitely look better on you then cyclist helmet, however, it’s probably a little too expensive for students.

invisible_helmetThis cyclist airbag is a design of the Swedish Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, under the brand name Hövding. We all know that it’s better to protect your head while on your bike, but we are all not quite behaving like it (unless the people that don’t really care about how their hair looks afterwards). Another reason to come up with this idea is the conflicting data about how effective helmets actually are. With these arguments the two students created a fashionably looking scarf with an airbag inside for their thesis and eventually made it into a real product that is now sold in many countries. In tests from a Swedish insurance company, Hovding was shown to be at least three times better at absorbing shocks (at 24 km per hour) than conventional helmets. Hovding’s weakest point is probably that it can’t protect riders from “direct hits” like street signs or a stationary car, an issue that hasn’t prevented the company from winning Europe’s CE conformity label.

So, both are two extraordinary ways of making city traffic a little safer, but they are definitely not the only ones. I’m curious if you know any more non-conventional and technological ideas for pedestrians or cyclists!


One response to “Two extraordinary ways to make traffic in the city a little safer”

  1. charlotteschutte4 says :

    The first idea I find very innovative and fun. I really believe this can have a positive effect on the safety in cities. I notice myself that people are hardly ever looking when they cross the streets. I have to use my bicycle bell on a daily basis in order not to cycle into people. When a technology like this is implemented it might give people a reason to start paying attention to the things around them more.

    The second idea I also find innovative, but I doubt whether this is something that could be widely adopted. I think it definitely serves a niche of people that might not feel very confident when riding a bike, but also do not want to use a helmet (since it’s not fashionable, especially in the Netherlands everyone automatically assumes you’re a terrible bike rider). Most Dutch people, however, are very used to riding a bike without extra safety and probably feel to good about themselves to start wearing an air bag. Also, in summer, when most people ride their bikes, it would be weird to have a scarf on.

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