Leave it to the Dutch to come up with another great biking innovation.
If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam, as I did a year ago, you’ll know that it’s an absolutely fervent cycling city.
Bikes are everywhere. When cyclists aren’t dodging you on them, their bikes are parked outside of houses and apartments, chained to posts and bridges – and near the train station, there are hundreds of them all squashed together in a giant parking garage for bikes.
The iconic bike culture merely adds to the hustle and bustle. To say the traffic is hectic is a major understatement. Between cars, buses, bikes, trams, and hordes of people, it’s remarkable how everyone seems to negotiate each other without more accidents.
But that’s not to say it isn’t perilous for cyclists.
So Dutch scientists have designed a “smart bike” that uses technology to protect cyclists…
Staying Upright in a Sea of Traffic
Equipped with sensors and wireless technology, the bike warns cyclists of potential traffic hazards while they’re zipping through the streets.
Senior Research Scientist at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Maurice Kwakkernaat, tests the technology by deliberately riding the bike as close to cars as possible.
In particular, he wants to help keep older cyclists safer while they’re on the road: “We see a rise in accidents with elderly people, and we also see the rise in the use and the amount of time they are on the bicycle. That means that the number of accidents increases, and we try to reduce that by using new technology.”
If Your Bike Vibrates, Take Precautions!
Simply put, the bike uses radar technology, sensors, and video to detect when a car or other obstacle is dangerously close to the rider. It alerts the rider in the form of a vibration in the handlebars and saddle.
As Kwakkernaat explains, “Vibration happens to be a very effective way to warn a bicyclist, and we’ve done that by putting vibrating elements in the handlebars, and also in the saddle. In that way, we can very effectively warn him of danger from the front, the back, left, right.”
Specifically, the saddle vibrates when the bike senses a potential hazard in front or behind, while the handlebars buzz if there’s danger on either side.
In keeping with the rising autonomous vehicle and connected car revolution, Kwakkernaat and his team are now looking at ways to expand the wireless technology so that bikes and cars can communicate with each other.
Just another way that technology is trying to perfect an imperfect process – getting people to and from their destinations efficiently and safely 100% of the time.