Atkins develops sustainable transport innovations

Sensors which give cyclists a head start over motorists at traffic lights are part of a new approach to Middle East road safety being developed by design firm Atkins.

The company’s associate director Ian Machen, a specialist in intelligent transport systems, says authorities in the region are looking to adopt technologies which will create user-friendly environments for cyclists and pedestrians.

The creation of environments appropriate for bikes could entail layout changes to traffic light junctions, where sensors will detect cyclists and allow them to move off before cars get the green light.

Intelligent detectors could also be used to spot when pedestrians are still crossing a road to ensure traffic lights don’t change too early.

The move is driven by a push to change the emphasis of the region’s cities to support alternative modes of transport and healthier lifestyles which are less dependent on cars.

Machen said: “Government authorities, in the UAE and Qatar, in particular, have developed advanced pedestrian and cycling strategies in recent years.

“We’re working closely with government clients in the region at the moment to understand the full implications of taking on new systems, the technologies we’re talking about are two to three years old, and there’s always a lag from development to policy change to implementation. They’re now being adopted in parts of Europe and the US and leading GCC cities are hot on their heels.”