Friday, November 15, 2013

bike innovation

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I have always thought it to be such a great loss for China to adopt and extoll the car over the ubiquitous bicycle... at a time where many cities within the Western world were appreciating the benefits of bicycle transport and the benefits of increasing health and reducing traffic congestion. Europeans have been at the forefront of encouraging bicycle use for everyday commuting and ensuring the safety of bicycle riders. I saw this video some time ago, describing a Dutch solution for increasing pedestrian and cyclist safety at intersections.  

This week I came across two groundbreaking bicycle innovations - using some smart thinking and adapting new technology. 
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The first was a helmet developed by two Swedish designers, using airbag technology that deploys in the event of an accident. The designers won a prestigious INDEX: Design to Improve Life award. See the video here. This might not be so comfortable for cyclists in warmer climates, but I'm sure it would aid comfort in cooler climates - allowing warm hats to be worn to be worn while cycling. 
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The second innovation was a 'smart wheel' that can be fixed to any standard bicycle to easily and effectively turn it into an electric-powered bicycle. Developed by FlyKly and funded by Kickstarter. Watch the video here. This clever project uses smart phone GPS and motion technology to control and monitor use, plot routes, adjust speed - as well as identify location in the event that the bicycle is stolen! Apparently this design uses much of the same technology as the previously developed Copenhagen wheel

I was really impressed by each of these designs as they assist people to commute to work without the need to wear specialized clothing. The FlyKly, can also avoid building up a sweat: a real dilemma for commuters in workplaces that don't provide shower or change facilities. 

I always wear a bicycle helmet when cycling - as I am basically really scared not to! 
I know many are reluctant to. Research suggests that mandatory helmet-wearing laws create a deterrent to increasing bicycle use. There is research to indicate that cyclists are more at risk from other road users when wearing a helmet. Then there is the more recent dilemma of wearing helmets when bike-sharing in municipalities which mandate helmet wearing

Anyway... I love the innovation! 

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