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Could Texas-made tech be a way to expel ghost bikes?

Efforts to try to get a statewide safe passing distance law enacted in Texas haven't met with success to date. As we noted in a post not too long ago, that has meant that individual cities have taken action on their own with local ordinances. Twenty-three have done so.

The laws require drivers to give vulnerable road users three feet of personal space when passing. The intent of the laws is clearly to acknowledge that walkers, joggers, bicyclists and motorcyclists have a right to expect that they will be able to get from one point to another safely, and that they should be able to follow the same routes as cars and trucks.

Unfortunately, as our previous post noted, that hasn't worked out as well as could be desired in Houston -- one of the cities where a safe passing ordinance is in force. Accidents that leave pedestrians injured and suffering damages and losses are happening all too frequently. The rates have been so high that safety advocates looking to set up memorials can't keep up.

But if a new device developed by Austin company, Codaxus, proves its worth, maybe the trend will be reversed. The handlebar-mounted technology features an ultrasonic sensor that measures the distance between a bicycle and a passing vehicle. If the vehicle comes closer than 36 inches to the bike, it sends a reading and an alert to a display box.

It's called the Bicyclist and Safe Monitoring Applied Radar Technology, or BSMART. For the past few months, it's been put through its paces on a single bicycle used by a police officer in Chattanooga, Tennessee. So far, the officer says he has stopped 17 motorists. He hasn't cited anyone, yet. He says his main goal for now is strictly education about that city's safe passing law.

The one thing the BSMART provides is verifiable evidence that the three-foot space has been violated. That's something that creators say is crucial because the human eye really can't do it well enough.

If all goes as planned, Codaxus says BSMART will be on the streets in Houston and Austin soon.

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press, "3 feet or else: Chattanooga police use ultrasound technology to enforce law for cyclist safety," Will Healey, June 7, 2015

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