Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bike safety innovations [Gear Wednesdays]

Safety is hard to come by on a bike. You're moving fast, and you're moving next to 4,000 pound hunks of metal. Even if all cautions are heeded, trouble can happen. A few new products in development/concept stages have caught my eye recently that seem like they could greatly improve bike/car relations.

Item 1: the Contrail

The concept is simple: wherever you ride you draw a line of chalk with your rear wheel. This has multiple benefits. Cyclists that follow behind you can see the safest path to follow. Also cars can see where bicyclist are riding to keep safe.

I can see this could be an interesting device, but I'm not conviced it would increase a rider's safety. If anything it seems to lend to kids drawing their names on the road, which doesn't seem safe at all. Not to mention that in the Pacific Northwest we tend to get a fair amount of rain and that would put quite a damper on all fun.

Item 2: the SpeedVest

This highly reflective vest displays your speed on you back. It'll read kilometers or miles per hour and reads a max speed of 79 of your favorite speed indicator. This looks cool. If there is one thing that I think helps cylclists stay safe is being annoyingly visible. Having you speed lit up with bright neon lights is unique enough to get any driver's attention. One vest has been made, but they are not available for purchase yet.

Item 3: LightLane

This one is my personal favorite of the bunch. Flashing lights are great and all, but being able to project your perimeter onto the road is just flat out genious. We have a lot of bike lanes around here, but drivers don't pay attention. It's hard to fault them when for so long this country hasn't had to share the road. I can't wait until this thing hits the market.

What do you do to stay safe on your rides?


  1. I too like both the vest and the lighted bike lane concepts. I think the vest is more financially reasonable. Especially nowadays, when state efforts will be concentrated on greener projects. Don't know how green a lighted bike lane could be, do we know what the possible light source would be? LEDs?

    Sadly, no matter what there are drivers out there that simply don't "get" biking and bikers. Here in New Haven there's a real effort to promote bike safety and driver awareness. Still, we get shouts of "Use the sidewalk!" from drivers, while at the same time cops have been cracking down and ticketing bikers for using sidewalks :(

  2. Wow! They ticket bikers for using the sidewalks? I must admit that in the Northwest there is some hostility towards cyclists, but it seems to be relatively tame compared to other areas of the country.

    As for the bike lane, I think it is lasers rather than LEDs. That might be what is holding up development. There are a lot of regulations on the use of lasers.

  3. I love the glow-in-the dark bike lane. It would be fun to follow the "chalk lines" as a very different and adventurous bike ride but not very practical, I agree. And the vest? I don't want everyone to know my speed! That's private!

    Btw, I'm doing the San Diego Rock 'n Roll. Good luck in the Seattle one!