New lighting system aims to make London’s roads safer for Pedestrians and Cyclists: Metroline pilots Bus Safety Innovation

  • Metroline set to pilot Vehicle Avoidance Lateral Lights (VALLs) on 24 buses.
  • Pioneering VALLs system creates illuminated footprint around vehicle which can improve safety for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and people with hearing impairments.
  • Partnership between Metroline and JBDL is supported by the TfL Bus Safety Innovation Challenge

Leading London Bus operator Metroline is to pilot an innovative new lighting system designed to make the capital’s roads safer. The Vehicle Avoidance Lateral Lights (VALLs) system illuminates the area on the sides of buses to help show road users that they are in close proximity to a bus which is especially important for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and people with hearing impairments.

The VALLs system is the first of its kind and has been developed in partnership with Jimmy Beam Downlights Limited (JBDL) using JBDL’s lighting system. Each VALL unit features a downlight with 4 LEDs, acting as a passive system with three functions that aims to prevent a collision between a bus and other road users by creating an illuminated ‘footprint’ which clearly identifies the lateral clearance area around the vehicle. This will provide cyclists and people with hearing impairments a more visual warning of a buses’ proximity and movements.

Metroline’s pilot of the system will begin in February using 24 buses, including night services in operation on route 6 from Willesden garage. Speaking about the initiative, Sinead Maguire, Head of Transport Safety for Metroline, said: “We are very excited to be leading this innovative pilot which marks an important step for the project and reinforces our commitment to Vision Zero and making London’s roads safer for all.”

The VALLs System features include:

  • The ‘Slow Speed’ light facility: An automatic function operating through the system’s control box, the slow speed facility ensures that the VALLS switch on when the engine switches on, and remain on until the bus reaches a speed above 15kph (9mph), at which point they switch off.
  • Synchronous flashing with Indicator: When the bus is indicating, the VALLs footprint will flash on the ground in conjunction with the indicator, providing a visual aid for other road users in close proximity such as cyclists and pedestrians as well as the hearing impaired who may lack sufficient warning of a turning bus in urban environments when lighting conditions deteriorate.
  • Constant Lateral Clearance Area: The downlights remain active as long as the engine is on under 15kph, meaning the footprint is projected even in stop-start traffic. The driver can also activate the vehicle light switch, which overrides the slow speed automation and allows the footprint to be projected at all times.

Metroline and JBDL are both contributing to the funding of the project and were successful in their joint application to the Transport for London Bus Safety Innovation Challenge  for support. The TfL Bus Safety Innovation Challenge was established to identify new, innovative products and solutions which will improve the safety of the London bus network and work towards Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on London’s transport network.

The VALLs system will be piloted on Metroline’s buses from next month.