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Uber, the ride-sharing app, is in the process of rolling out an update in over 200 cities that aims to raise awareness for cycling safety, including alerting passengers to keep a lookout for cyclists and reminding drivers to not stop in bike lanes.
The update, named Bike Route Alerts, will start sending push notifications to Uber users when a bike route or shared road is detected near to, or on, their drop-off point, and remind them to look before opening the door. In certain regions, including Australia, Uber also plans to promote the use of the Dutch Reach, a method for opening car doors with cyclists in mind.
Uber drivers are given similar messaging of their responsibility toward all road users, and are being urged to pick up and drop-off passengers away from bike lanes.
This new safety feature was piloted earlier this year in cities such as San Francisco, New York and Toronto, and is being officially implemented across many major cities globally. For Australia, that includes some 18 cities, with all the major population centres covered.
Dooring is a concern for cyclists the world over, and has been responsible for a number of deaths and serious injuries to cyclists. Two high-profile deaths caused by dooring in Melbourne, on Glenferrie Road in 2010 and Sydney Road in 2015, have raised awareness of the risks of dooring in Australia. In New York City, meanwhile, there have been at least five cyclist deaths caused by dooring in the last two years. And whilst the fatalities are bad enough, there are many more cyclists injured by doorings; in 2011 the city of Chicago reported that 19.7% of reported cycling injuries were the result of doorings.
Rideshare programs, such as Uber, operate like a taxi but without any of the distinctive markings or colouring to provide riders with a visual clue that the vehicle might be stopping and letting out passengers in traffic.
More visibility and awareness of cycling safety is rarely a bad thing, and with an estimated 110 million users globally, Uber certainly has a significant voice. Time will tell whether Uber continues to invest in the idea, if other rideshare apps follow and if it does, in fact, reduce incidents.