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March 27, 2014

Riding Robo-Bike: High Tech Bike Safety and Security

The New York Times recently published a post to their wellness blog reviewing new high-tech gadgets designed to boost bike safety.

In the U.S., the number of bike commuters has nearly doubled in the last few decades. Americans now make four billion bike trips a year.

It’s a similar story in Vancouver. According to the Mayor’s Office, bike trips increased 40% from 2008-2011.

The Times article links the increase in cyclists to the demand for innovative safety equipment. “Driven in part by riders’ demands for a greater sense of comfort and safety on the road, new apps and gadgets are promising to do for the bicycle what air bags and satellite navigation did for the family car. What used to be a simple, healthful mode of transport is fast becoming a tech festival on wheels.”

Below are eight new “robo-bike” accessories designed to boost bike safety and security:

  1. The Loud Bicycle is a two-toned bike horn designed to gain attention from even the most unaware driver. It’s loud, reaching 112 decibels. It’s also water resistant and can charge USB-powered devices. As Boston designer Jonathan Lansey says, “It’s embarrassing to get honked at. But it’s more embarrassing to get honked at by a bicycle.”
  2. See.Sense  is an “intelligent cycle light with road sense,” according to its maker from Northern Ireland. See.Sense uses sensors that react to surrounding light levels and movement. If a cyclist swerves, the light flashes like those on a police car to increase driver awareness. It also has a broad beam to make the bike more visible from side angles.
  3. The Xfire Bike Lane light uses two high-visibility red lasers to illuminate a portable three foot bike lane on upcoming roadway. The lighted lane is visible to motorists up to a mile away.
  4. The Hovding airbag inflates into an “instant helmet” around a cyclist’s head and neck when crash movements are detected. Worn as a stylish collar around a cyclist’s neck, Hovding is said to be three times more effective than a standard bike helmet.
  5. BikeSpike allows cyclists to track the whereabouts of their bike if it gets stolen. It attaches to the bike’s frame, adding GPS tracking and tamper alerts for bike security. It’s also a great idea for parents trying to track down a child lost or late for dinner.
  6. BitLock is a bike lock that can be engaged or disengaged with a cellphone. It’s convenient for the owner of the bike, but also opens up all kinds of possibilities for bike share programs. When other cyclists have permission, they too can lock/unlock the BitLock. It’s an “instant individualized bike-share, without the costly and ubiquitous street racks.”
  7. The Atom is a USB battery pack that is charged by pedaling. During or after a ride, it can be detached and used to recharge your phone or other USB-powered device. “We’re providing mobile power for mobile technologies,” said David Delcourt of Siva Cycles, the company behind the device.
  8. The Copenhagen Wheel turns an ordinary bike into an electric hybrid. It replaces a bike’s regular back tire and captures energy as cyclists brake or gain speed downhill. The stored energy kicks in when the rider needs an extra push, giving them three to ten times the regular pedaling power. With the Copenhagen Wheel, “hills seem flat, distances shrink, and you can cycle just about anywhere.”