The Melbourne Metro Tunnel project is using innovative GPS technology to keep construction vehicles on approved roads and away from bike riders.
Every truck on the contract can be “geo-fenced” so that if it were ever to stray from officially designated routes, managers would be alerted and action taken.
Trucks are tracked in real-time so that no-go zones can be enforced.
Truck speeds can be monitored as they carried materials to or away from the construction sites.
Huge volumes of trucks will be on Melbourne streets once excavation and tunnel boring gets seriously underway, ramping up after the March long weekend.
Construction trucks are a known risk to riders in cities around the world, partly due to limitations on driver vision and because bike riders don’t intuitively understand how trucks move when they turn.
One of the steps authorities are taking to mitigate these risks is to confine, where possible, trucks to carefully selected routes between the origin and destination of their trip.
Truck drivers will have an app on their mobile phone which tracks the position of the truck.
Geo-fencing is when the system knows where all the approved truck routes are, so that when a vehicles departs from its designated route alerts are sent to project transport controllers and to drivers.
As well the system can produce detailed reports on haulage routes that can be used to optimise dispatching and make the most efficient use of available vehicles.
Speed can be monitored within the geo-fenced zone and can be configured to send alerts for speeds above any speed that is decided to be notifiable.
These measures will be of value to all road users who may encounter Melbourne Metro trucks over the next few years.
But it is not a magic bullet. Bike riders still need to take particular care as at some locations in inner Melbourne, trucks and bikes will inevitably cross paths.
Be aware that drivers might not be able to see you, so stay back behind the truck. And never ride up the side of a truck as it may be about to turn left.
Bicycle Network has strongly pressed for the introduction of technological measures to improve truck safety.
It is pleasing that other major projects in development in Melbourne are also keen to adopt geo-fencing to mitigate risks to bike riders.
Image source: metrotunnel.vic.gov.au