Cy­cling just got safer

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE - BY LAMEEZ OMARJEE

Forty per­cent of cy­cling in­juries oc­cur when ve­hi­cles hit cy­clists from be­hind. Un­like run­ners, cy­clists travel along with traf­fic and are not al­ways aware of ve­hi­cles ap­proach­ing from the rear. For this rea­son, Stel­len­bosch-based soft­ware com­pany iKubu de­signed the Varia Rear-view Bike Radar and Varia Smart Bike Lights.

iKubu was ac­quired by Garmin at the be­gin­ning of the year, and the tech gi­ant will be launch­ing these de­vices soon.

The Rear-view Bike Radar is a red tail light mounted onto the back of a bi­cy­cle and de­tects ap­proach­ing ve­hi­cles from 140m away, ex­plains Marc Bain­bridge, fit­ness cat­e­gory man­ager at Garmin South­ern Africa. It is used in con­junc­tion with a radar dis­play or head unit. The light flashes in­tensely and more brightly as a ve­hi­cle ap­proaches and shows up to eight ap­proach­ing ve­hi­cles on the radar dis­play.

The radar, which took three years to de­velop from ini­tial con­cept to fi­nal prod­uct, can be used in­de­pen­dently or with a range of Garmin’s com­pat­i­ble Edge cy­cling com­put­ers. It will dis­play ap­proach­ing ve­hi­cles (as a dot) on the side of the screen, which will move up the screen as a ve­hi­cle ap­proaches the cy­clist, ex­plains Bain­bridge. Al­ter­na­tively the cy­clist can use a head unit with a flash­ing light – the light flashes green when there is no dan­ger and as soon as a ve­hi­cle is de­tected, the light flashes or­ange. When there is a greater risk, or a fast-ap­proach­ing ve­hi­cle, the light flashes red.

The Varia Smart Bike Lights also con­trib­ute to safe cy­cling. Used in con­junc­tion with Edge prod­ucts, a tail light will il­lu­mi­nate when the cy­clist brakes, much like a ve­hi­cle’s brake lights would. This is par­tic­u­larly use­ful when cy­clists ride to­gether as a group, warn­ing them to slow down if the cy­clist ahead of them brakes, Bain­bridge says. By adding a sec­ond tail light, cy­clists are able to use the lights as in­di­ca­tors for sig­nalling left and right turns.

There is also an op­tion for a head­light that projects over a greater dis­tance for cy­clists trav­el­ling at faster speeds. When the cy­clist slows down, then less of the path is il­lu­mi­nated to see ob­sta­cles closer to them.

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