Groninger entrepreneurs want to make cycling safer.

Published on 15 December 2020 at 21:28

Left Edwin Mellema and right Eddy de Boer.

Photo taken by Theo Sikkema

Source and interview made by Theo Sikkema from RTV Noord. Look here for the Dutch text in the original message.

With the heavy fall of cyclist Fabio Jakobsen in the Tour of Poland in August as the low point, the call for more safety in cycling is growing. Two Groningen entrepreneurs, former cyclists themselves, are in the process of bringing an application to the market to quantify safety with the help of artificial intelligence.

Edwin Mellema (50) and Eddy de Boer (47) cycled together at Cycling Association Omega in Scheemda in the nineties and recently met again. Mellema stopped his company SelectEQ BV two years ago and started With his company, De Boer specializes in processing large amounts of data in order to be able to predict or recognize patterns based on that.


During the last Tour de France, both went cycling for a week in the Alps with a camper. There was a lot of talk there. Mellema about this. "I've wanted to do something with safety and cycling for years, but I had no idea how. We got into discussions and discussed, among other things, the use of technology in risk inventories. For example when you talk about safety. How do you make feeling more factual? "


The collaboration has now been underway for three months and the first results are visible. A car equipped with cameras records routes. De Boer is going to work on that. "A camera is a light-sensitive sensor that converts images into data in the form of pixel values".

With the help of artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, a translation is made from those registered values ​​to a practical application. In this case, the detection of potentially dangerous objects along a route of a cycling race.
Trees, lampposts, manhole covers, curbs, traffic islands and other traffic furniture "It starts with annotating data that is used to train a neural network," said De Boer, a technical business scientist and mechanical engineer. In that network, the system is taught to recognize objects.

De Boer is a firm believer in this. "More and more funding is being released for projects. Artificial intelligence is now at the level of the emergence of the internet twenty years ago. Bicycle safety fits in well with this, because a lot of data can be collected about it. Training at the beginning takes a lot of time, but if you can get started with it afterwards, the application / processing will go much faster. "
The international cycling federation, UCI, and a representative from the professional peloton, the Professional Cycling Council (PCC), made agreements last week about improving safety. The wish is to release an external risk analysis about the course a few weeks before the start of a race, with the starting point of making the course even safer. That must be done from KREZZNO if it is up to Mellema.

Mellema and De Boer have ridden in the peloton themselves for years and that offers an advantage in their view. "You often don't see what is happening in front of you in a platoon," De Boer knows. Mellema additional. "I once talked about it with Tom-Jelte Slagter. He is small and always relied on big riders around him to know what was going on. Imagine that at speeds of more than fifty kilometers per hour. "
Both gentlemen are of the opinion that safety on cycling courses can be improved. De Boer is certain. "A lot is for the stage. Put up signs to warn of dangerous points, to show that you have done something about it as an organizer. But a rider doesn't see those warnings at such high speeds. "

The initiative is not intended to reject courses, says De Boer. "We want to provide insight by, for example, creating a heat map with all the risky points." Mellema's idea is to obtain a quality mark. "Organizers receive a @KREZZNO #SafetyCyclistFirst certificate. Ranging from one to five, from fine to a lot of work to be done. "

To continue as an entrepreneur, the initiators estimate that at least one hundred thousand euros is needed. Techie De Boer about this: "Then we can build an excellent solution, which we can roll out widely. It is scalable. "One part is a portal that cycling organizations can use." "It must be supported by major parties such as the KNWU cycling federation or the UCI," says Mellema.

The ultimate goal is to facilitate the riders in addition to the organizers, Mellema indicates. "What we want to go to is early identification of dangerous points with a notification on the cycling computer, which everyone has nowadays. Then we take a big step in the individual safety of a rider. "


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