Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Night bike safety: great solution

I love it when someone dares me to think in a whole new way.

My amazing biking sister forwarded me this Utne Reader article about a developing bike light: Revolights. Wait -- it's not just another headlight and rear flasher (Oh, my!). It's a clip-to-the-wheels system that lets you see what's ahead and lets cars see you. Definitely watch the video.

No, this system isn't available yet, so I can't put my official stamp of approval on it, but I love the concept. It has many cool features, like fuss-free operation, but I think its greatest virtue is that with one glance, all of the cars around know that you are a bike.

As Revolights' Kickstarter page testifies, "Nearly 70% of all nighttime Bicycle-Car collisions are due to inadequate side visibility." (Source here) As someone who drove in a bike-friendly college town, I can tell you that I've seen a lot of night visibility systems. Nothing was standard, and there wasn't a light and reflector combo that really let me know that what I was seeing was a bike.

I've had more than a few scary moments as a driver coming up on some sort of reflector or blinking light and not knowing if it was a bike or pedestrian until I was right on top of it. Yes, I slowed down. Yes, I moved over. But it's almost impossible to tell how large or small a blinky light is from a distance.

Revolights changes all that with its LED lights that attach to the wheel rim. The bike wheels spin and the bright lights let everyone on the road know where your bike stops and starts and your direction. There's no missing you at a stop sign, either.

There are plenty of shots of the Revolight system from the side because it looks so cool, but I wish there were a few images of the bike at night from the perspective of a driver. It would be great to know what the lights look like from behind.

I also love the funding mechanism: Kickstarter. The traditional model of business financing says you have to go an investor or two with deep pockets or try to wangle a loan from a bank. Good luck with either in today's market. Kickstarter lets average, everyday people become investors for items that they believe in. Small donations keep the economic engine rolling and level the playing field. (I personally think political campaigns should be financed the same way, but that's a topic for another post. Probably on another blog.)

Funding is open until September 27, and I'm planning to kick in a few dollars this week. My donation won't get me a set of these lights, but I'm okay with that. It's my little gift to imagination.

Many thanks to Elle who designed the new logo on Bike Bliss' masthead. You're amazing, E!!

1 comment:

  1. I hope they get the funding they need. It looks like an amazing and innovative product!