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London tests traffic lights that stay green for cyclists

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Cycling is one of the quickest ways to get across London, and soon adaptive traffic lights could make pedal-power even faster. Transport for London (TfL) is testing a system that detects groups of cyclists and, where possible, keeps the lights green for a little longer than usual. The problem being that during peak times -- for instance, the morning commute -- tons of cyclists take to the streets, causing congestion at major junctions.

A trial at Cable Street on one of London's "Cycle Superhighways" hopes to alleviate the problem with two systems -- one that's radar-based and one with thermal imaging -- to detect cyclists and judge whether the traffic lights could and should stay green. The hope is that the technology can be integrated into SCOOT, a London-wide system that constantly monitors traffic flow and optimises lights accordingly. A further three trials are now being planned to determine how the two sensing technologies perform at different types of junctions. Should the system ever be rolled out across the city, it would no doubt be welcomed by bike-junkies, but it's hard to imagine drivers being quite so keen.

[Image Credit: Mary Knox Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images]

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