While it sometimes seems like cyclists and motorists are continually placed in opposition despite those friendly signs by the side of the street reminding us to share the road peacefully, new technologies and initiatives are starting to change that, making sure everyone travels safely and happily. That’s good news for cyclists, especially with the number of people turning to bikes on the rise, and it’s good news for motorists, too.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which the roads are being made more welcome for bicycle commuters and casual riders.
1. Volvo’s Cyclist Detection System
European automaker Volvo has become famous for its advanced safety systems, but they’re often focused on drivers, not the people around them, though engineers have developed systems to avoid pedestrian accidents and to protect animals. The cyclist detection system finally adds cyclists to the mix; using radars and cameras, vehicles scan their blind spots and work to avoid collisions, both by alerting drivers and activating automatic braking systems.
This LED system is built into the wheels of a bike, illuminating them brightly at night to ensure that a cyclist is fully visible to passing pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Better yet, it changes color, turning red when the cyclist brakes; just like the brake lights on a car, it’s a warning that a cyclist is slowing down and needs some clearance. Added bonus: the distinct design gives cyclists a highly unique visual profile that makes them hard to mistake for anything else.
3. Bike Superhighways
What happens when you take cars out of the equation altogether? That’s what authorities are experimenting with in Denmark and other regions, with bicycling superhighways focused solely on cyclists. It’s a dramatic way to rethink traditional approaches to transportation, which have been dominated by designing for cars in preference to other modes of getting around. Bicycle superhighways are safer and more congenial for cyclists, and they encourage cycling to boot, which is especially valuable in heavily congested regions.
Bike helmets are critical, because brains don’t like scrambling! And while it’s important to always wear a helmet, it can feel pretty dorky, too; some of the best designs in terms of safety and protection don’t offer much in the way of, shall we say, panache. The folks at Yakkay set out to change that with a brilliant set of bike helmets camouflaged as nifty hats. For those who like to look spiffy and possibly even dignified while protecting their noggins, this is a brilliant solution.
A city so fabulous, it gets its own entry on this list. Danes take biking seriously, and that’s on full display in Copenhagen, with dedicated bike lanes and traffic lights, bicycle avenues, cargo bike lanes, innovative approaches to bike parking, and more. The city has done more than any other in the world to fully integrate cyclists into the landscape, and provides numerous valuable public works, design and innovation lessons that other cities should be looking to if they’re interested in developing more bike-friendly climates, and encouraging more residents to adopt bikes as a mode of transportation.
Photo credit: Paul Stein