Now also traffic information for cyclists on the radio
Soon fallen trees on bicycle routes will also make it to the traffic bulletin of the Flemish public broadcaster VRT radio. Traffic Anchor Hajo Beeckman, together with possible partners, is investigating how this could be done.
Because the bicycle is becoming increasingly important in the mobility shift, says Beeckman, who launched a call on Twitter for ideas to give the bike a place in the traffic bulletin.
A significant shift in mobility
The internal affairs department of VRT radio conducts a study every three years into the use of traffic bulletins. This shows that the majority of road users use both traffic apps and the radio bulletin. This still means percentages of 70 to 80%, even though young people use apps more frequently.
“At the same time, we are seeing a major shift in our mobility, in which the bicycle is playing an increasingly important role. This has been accelerated even further by the corona crisis,” says Hajo Beeckman in the newspapers De Morgen and Gazet van Antwerpen.
“The bike is on a steep rise in commuting. The e-bikes are flying over the counter, and the cycle highways are also gaining more and more ground. From there, the idea has grown whether and how we should take this into account in the bulletin. If the bicycle also claims its place in our mobility, it’s logical that we think about that.”
Lack of information
According to Beeckman, various parties, companies, or the Cyclists’ Union, for example, have already responded. “There is a large community of cyclists. There’s also something like a bicycle route planner, on which there are already reports that a certain route is closed for works, for example.”
“But if a cloudburst submerges a cycle path, making it inaccessible, or if there are roadblocks due to fallen trees or road works and you have to make a three-kilometer detour because of that, then such up-to-date traffic information is now lacking.”
“And as a cyclist, that’s useful information while you’re getting ready to leave. There is a great demand for up-to-date information.”
A platform for cycling obstacles
If you’re in the car, you get the traditional traffic information and current traffic jams via the radio. That’s a bit more difficult on the bike, even though many cyclists ride with earphones and music, but it still has to stay safe.
“The technology is there, on the other hand,” says Beeckman. “Just think of an app like Waze, for example. You could think of a kind of system where correspondents pass on up-to-date information to a platform. Important information can then trickle through to the radio bulletin. Anyone with ideas, let it come.”
Most important incidents on the radio
It’s not VRT’s intention to set up a fully-fledged online platform that collects all reports. However, there will be talks with possible partners who can set this up, for instance, via a network of seasoned bicycle commuters acting as correspondents. The VRT will then be able to include the most important incidents in the traffic bulletin on the radio.
Of course, you have to avoid the traffic bulletin taking half an hour. That problem does not arise at the moment. Beeckman estimates that at the moment, we are still only at half of the classic rush hour traffic jams compared to the pre-corona times.
“The question is, will we ever go back to traffic jams of 250-300 kilometers? I hypothesize that it won’t come back soon. People think more consciously about the role of the car in their journeys. Now, a bulletin takes between 40 seconds and up to a minute and a half. It certainly shouldn’t be more.”
In any case, the young initiative arouses enthusiasm within the Cyclists’ Union, which, with Bike to Work, encourages companies to adopt bicycle-friendly personnel policy, and within the provinces, which manage the cycle highways.