New website launched to help Portsmouth cyclists avoid blackspots

Cyclist Steven Piper from SI Digital
Cyclist Steven Piper from SI Digital
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A cyclist says he was so frustrated by the number of times he was nearly knocked off his bike that he devised a website to record hazardous areas to combat the problem.

Southsea-based Si Digital owner Steven Piper has developed an online tool to record the number of ‘close passes’ – where a driver goes dangerously near to a cyclist.

Steven believes that if enough people use the website – closepass.cc – it will support planners and authorities with vital data on blackspots as well as providing a useful source for cyclists in avoiding certain routes while also helping stamp out a problem which affects more than two million people in the UK.

Speaking of his motivation to develop the technology after nearly being run off the road by a variety of vehicles – ranging from sports cars to buses – Steven said: ‘I’m mainly a weekend cyclist but I have suffered a lot of close passes, as have many of my colleagues.

‘When riding out at Harting Hill recently I was nearly run off the road when a Lamborghini squeezed me out of the way, causing me to nearly fall into the gutter just so they could avoid getting too close to an oncoming car.

‘That incident got me thinking that something must be done to track such incidents to help cyclists know of dangerous routes and identify when problem times are.

If we can collect enough information then we can go to the authorities and let them know of problem spots and hopefully do something about it – whether that’s putting up a sign or some road bumps.’

As a motorist himself, Steven is aware that drivers can be impatient but says reckless actions are not worth the small gains they are making. ‘People are taking unnecessary risks to gain milliseconds – I know of quite a few people who have been hit or run off the road.

‘Motorists see cyclists as an inconvenience rather than as humans,’ he said.

The online tool, launched last month, has resulted in the company being contacted by people and businesses as far afield as the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand.

The tool is designed so it is quick and easy to use to encourage as many people as possible to record incidents.

The information can then be used to identify patterns such as road types and speed limits and can be used anywhere in the world.

The technology also includes a map where cyclists can locate useful amenities such as cafes, bike shops and pubs.