You’ve heard it (or said it) time and time again: “I would bike to work if it weren’t so dangerous.” Researchers at MIT mapped out bike crashes in 23 major cities, and let us tell you, it’s not always pretty out there for the cycling community.
In response to the prevalent (and unsustainable) car culture in many cities, policymakers are making great strides in shifting urban design to be more pedestrian-friendly. Los Angeles is connecting all 51 miles of the LA River with pathways. New York City refurbished an old railway to become the High Line. City landscapes now put resources into urban walkways. The only problem: Not all of these solutions apply to bicycles. While it’s great to optimize sidewalks for pedestrians, there are still a lot of two-wheelers out there fighting with drivers for their fair share of the road.
Luckily, out of great problems comes great design. Here are three game-changers that are making cities easier (and safer) to pedal.
CAN'T GET A SIGNAL?
If you’ve ever pulled up to an intersection on a bike, you know the frustration of staring longingly at the red light and feeling totally invisible until a car pulls up to trigger the signal change. In most cities, bicycles can’t communicate with traffic lights the way that cars can, so they have to sit, unnoticed, until more traffic comes along. One biker from northern California created the Veloloop, a 7x7” metal loop that speaks to the inductive loop sensors at intersections, giving bikes the same (figurative) weight of cars.
The Veloloop communicates with traffic signals to let them know that a bike is waiting to move forward.
GLOVES THAT MAKE IT ALL RIGHT TO TURN LEFT
Cars give warning before they turn left or right by using their blinkers, but cyclists have to rely on manual hand signals. What if it’s dark out? At night, it can be difficult for drivers to see a biker with a hand stuck out from a distance. In come the Zackees Turn Signal Gloves, a pair of leather and spandex gloves with LED arrows that blink when activated by a quick motion of the hand. Click your thumb and index finger together and a red arrow starts flashing on the back of your hand so you can turn safely. Batteries last through two months of daily use and can capture the attention of cars at dusk and late night.
LED lights in the Zackees gloves make a turn signal bright and clear so bikers are seen, even at night.
AIR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION
Raise your hand if you’ve never ridden a bike without a helmet. Bueller? Bueller? Yeah, that’s what we thought. With the bulk of conventional helmets (and, yes, the geek factor), many cyclists choose to take the risk and ride without that protective factor. Swedish company Hovding took to design to find a solution and found what we were all hoping for: something that is both more stylish and even more protective than many other helmets on the market. This “airbag for cyclists” hides around the neck during everyday use but rapidly inflates upon impact, absorbing up to three times more shock than other models. So you can avoid helmet hair without breaking a sweat (or your neck).
Hovding’s inflatable helmet sits comfortably around the neck and inflates rapidly upon impact.
Ready to sell your car and get back on the bike seat? We thought so. By protecting yourself with these new designs — and checking out the top 10 most bike-friendly cities — you can expand your transportation options and contribute to the movement of fewer cars on the road. And for those times when you have cargo to carry, friends to bring along, or need to travel further than the bike lanes allow, well, y’know…there’s always car sharing.