LONDON — Cycling in London can be a pretty scary experience. Sometimes, it can prove a fatal one.
In fact, 432 cyclists were seriously injured or killed on London roads in 2014, according to Transport for London figures.
Tech company Hövding wants to turn London into a "cycle-friendly city" by giving cyclists "Flic" smart buttons to mark traffic hazards while sending emails to the mayor of London at the same time.
Five hundred buttons have been distributed to members and supporters of the London Cycling Campaign, who are campaigning for better conditions for cyclists in the city.
The button is connected via Bluetooth to the cyclist's phone using the Flic app. As soon as the cyclist presses the button, data is collected from the cyclist's location and added to a map on the campaign website. The map is designed to mark hazards and raise awareness of just how many unsafe streets and junctions there are in the capital.
"More people should be able to cycle and feel safe while doing so, but today’s infrastructure doesn’t allow it. Therefore, we would like to highlight the issue and push forward the campaign for safer cycling, letting cyclists themselves to report about the places that need improving," Anna Katarina Skogh, marketing director at Hövding, said in a statement.
But, that's not all the button does.
Each time cyclists press one, an email is sent to the mayor of London to make him aware of the extent of the perils cyclists face. In a statement, Hövding said that the emails to the mayor are designed to "encourage him to keep his promise to ‘make London a byword for cycling.'"
During his campaign, London's new mayor, Sadiq Khan, outlined a range of policies to make cycling safer in London.
"I know we’ve made a lot of progress as a city but there is still more to do if we are to protect cyclists from collisions, and to encourage more people to take up cycling as a way of getting around the city," Khan told the Guardian.
"By committing to the London Cycling Campaign’s Sign for Cycling pledges, the new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has promised to make cycling in London safe and enjoyable for everyone," Amy Summers, campaign coordinator at London Cycling Campaign, said in a statement.
She added, "The 500 Londoners giving him a beep will hopefully remind him to get on with fulfilling those pledges, as a matter of urgency."