For cyclists who enjoy biking through urban landscapes, nothing is more frustrating than a smooth ride getting broken up by running into red lights repeatedly. Not only does it crush momentum, but it means moving off the bike path, pressing the crossing button, and waiting for the light to turn green. It can also be one of the most dangerous parts of any bike ride as cars making a right turn might not even be aware that a bike is approaching the intersection.
Berkeley, California-based Sensy Networks is in the process of trying to make things a little bit easier—and safer—for bike riders with their new app, GiveMeGreen!
The way the app works is by communicating with special signals installed at intersections. Via Bluetooth, the app sends a signal to the traffic controller at the intersection to let the controller know that a bike is approaching (the signal can be received once the app is within 300 ft of the intersection). The traffic controller then does its best to get a green light for the biker as soon as possible. While it doesn’t guarantee that a rider will sail right through every intersection, it does promise to cut down on wait time in most cases.
Santa Clarita and Fort Wayne
To date, the GiveMeGreen! app and system have been tested in Santa Clarita, California, and more recently, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The testing in Santa Clarita began in 2018 and GiveMeGreen! and the city won the California Safety Award for safety or intelligent transportation system projects.
The award went on to state, “The GiveMeGreen! application, combined with existing intelligent intersection technology, provides a good example of how smart technology can improve safety, decrease congestion and improve the travel experience for a new generation of connected travelers.”
In Fort Wayne, nine intersections have been outfitted with the necessary receptors. The city is hoping to recruit more bikers to download and test the app. There is even an email where users can send in their feedback.
Why Does the System Use Bluetooth?
Some might wonder why the GiveMeGreen! app uses Bluetooth—a relatively old technology—and not function over 4G or the soon to be growing 5G network. It’s simple. Since the system works over GPS and Bluetooth, riders can’t spoof their location and try to turn lights green even sooner.
As for 5G, it could be a long time before the infrastructure is ready to handle something like the GiveMeGreen! app. By using existing technology that can’t be manipulated, it has allowed Sensy Networkz, Santa Clarita, and Fort Wayne to implement the system now.
Is it Actually Safer for Bikers?
It almost goes without saying that the GiveMeGreen! app makes for a more convenient, smoother biking experience. But is it actually safer?
Obviously, there is no definitive answer to that question as of yet since the technology is so new and has yet to be thoroughly tested. Sensy Networks certainly touts GiveMeGreen! as a technology that increases safety for cars and bikers alike, but without hard data, there is some amount of speculation to those claims.
What is known about GiveMeGreen! is that it does help cars detect and be aware of bikers, especially on right turns, as the app can turn on flashing lights that let cars know a bike is present.
Increased detection is always welcome for bikers who often feel they are not seen on the road.
Other Questions about GiveMeGreen!
GiveMeGreen! is definitely an exciting new app and something bikers can’t wait to see unveiled in more cities. But there are still several questions some might have about this new app and system.
For example, when will the app be available in more cities and how much does it cost for a city to install the receptors? If the technology is cost-prohibitive it might be a hard sell for many cities.
Also, there may still be questions about the data accumulated by the GiveMeGreen! app. Who owns it and what can they do with it?
Even with these questions and others like them, GiveMeGreen! is one of the most exciting new developments for bike enthusiasts. The idea of being able to automatically roll through a long string of green lights—and being seen by cars—are a bikers dream. With Sensy Networks and the GiveMeGreen! app, that dream is becoming a reality.