Depending on wherever you live or work, May 21 is National Bike to Work or Wherever Day. Bike to Work Day is traditionally held on the third Friday of May with events all over the U.S. This year the Bay Area of Northern California has changed its event to ‘To Bike to Wherever Days’. May is also designated National Bicycle Safety Month.
Local law enforcement agencies remind cyclists and drivers to obey traffic laws. They advise cyclists to have appropriate reflective or bright-coloured clothing, a helmet and lights.
Before saddling up on a bicycle or even trying out an e-bike, Auto Futures talks to bike advocates, specialists and technologists to find out guidelines for getting back on the road and the latest tech to keep bicyclists and e-bikers in the future safer.
If someone has not been on a bicycle in a while before going out, it is best to do research. Make sure the helmet has not been impacted or is out of date. Also very important is to make sure that the bicycle is in working order, says Noa Banayan, Director of Federal Affairs, PeopleForBikes Coalition.
“The bicycle may need service and may need to be taken to a local bike shop,” says Banayan.
“Good places to go for bicycle education are your local retailer or bike club. Before going on a bike ride to work and you have not ridden in a while you can contact your local bike club or advocacy group to find bike paths where there are only bicycles and you do not have to deal with traffic or cars. If you’re going to bike to work then it is a good idea, so you have no surprises to test out the route first, says Banayan.
“It can be hard to choose to ride a bicycle when you don’t have the infrastructure that makes you feel safe and makes it easy to get where you want to go,” adds Banayan.
A PeopleForBikes’ study of what cities did to improve and create spaces for bikes and other forms of active transportation showed that approximately 200 U.S. cities changed the functionality of their streets to accommodate increased outdoor activity. 86% of cities consider the measures taken to support biking during Covid-19 as critical components of their future mobility or recreation networks.
Plus, those who started riding during the pandemic were more likely than existing riders to engage with bicycling because bike rides offer stress relief (57%) and a way to relax (36%).
PeopleForBikes is advocating with federal, state and local officials to make biking better and safer for everyone.
What Kinds of New Safety Equipment is Available for Bike Riders?
Wearing protective clothing can help mitigate the pressure and damages on the human body when someone falls. One of the problems with wearing solid elbow pads or knee guards is that riders want to be able to move their arms and knees freely while riding a bicycle or during sports activities.
G-Form pads, guards and body gear use a special technology called SmartFlex based on non-Newtonian physics. What is non-Newtonian physics? A trip to YouTube shows that when you mix corn-starch and water and then you try to break the surface it is hard. The G-Form patented reactive protection SmartFlex technology allows for a soft movable covering that changes form when it hits the ground and becomes hard on a structural level, protecting the wearer.
“Most people wait until after their injury to look for protective gear,” says Alex Sardella, Bike Marketing Manager, G-Form, “Then they buy G-Form. We tested our technology against other soft pads and it is by far the best. People don’t like to wear heavy clothing, the G-Form is flexible, lightweight, washable and breathable.”
G-Form protection for hands, knees, elbows and even hips(bike shorts) is popular with mountain bikers and becoming popular with commuters, says Sardella. SmartFlex is waterproof and will be used in military applications in the future. G-Form gear is also being used by skateboarders, e-bike and e-scooter riders and other forms of extreme sports, says Sardella.
What Kinds of Airbags Are There for Bicyclists?
The technology that was once used only in cars such as airbags, first crosses over to motorcycles and then to e-bikes and eventually bicycles, says Ed Benjamin, Chairman of the Light Electric Vehicle Association. Previously he told Auto Futures he was impressed by airbag vests.
“If the airbag helmet from Hövding was available in the US, I would buy one,” says Benjamin.
Hövding 3 is an airbag worn around the neck. It looks like a collar and is connected to an app that notifies ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts. The airbag hood inflates when there is an accident.
The independent French testing institute Certimoov, at the University of Strasbourg, found that no cycle helmet has ever offered as much protection as Hövding with 4.5 stars. Hövding’s airbag for cyclists offers superior protection and drastically reduces the risk of brain injury, according to the report, better than any other helmet test.
Future Lower Body Protection – Stylish Airbag Jeans
A recent kick in the safety pants for motorcycle and eventually e-bike, bike and mobile sports safety is MO’CYCLE Airbag Inside jeans designed by founder Moses Shahrivar. A video of him in stylish jeans that inflate and he falls over went viral and was shown on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.
“The jeans themselves have a removable airbag. The only area that will not be protected by airbags and will be padded is the knee because when you fall or when airbags are deployed you have to be able to bend your knees to walk away,” says Shahrivar.
The airbag jeans are currently in the pilot phase. Airbags absorb the energy it could be anywhere from 10-to-20-to-50%. When the airbags absorb energy and it makes the impact less and less likely to damage the wearer.
Shahrivar is not only working on the jeans– he’s also working on complementary accessories. He has gotten requests for sizes up to for big men up to XXXXXL. Most of the interest has been from the US, Italy, Spain and then England from motorcyclists.
“We want people to be safe. We are trying to make the airbag jeans as cheap as possible and still look great. We also have a vision of having a high-end top of the line designer jeans with extra protective fabric,” says Shahrivar.
The airbag jeans will come in black and jean colours. The denim is made with ultra-high-molecular-weight-polyethylene that protects from scrapes
“The future of airbags is that it has moved out of the car and moving to humans for motorcycles skateboards, extreme sports and those who are moving and extreme situations,” says Shahrivar
Ed Benjamin predicts other safety technologies from the automotive world will come to e-bikes: “The same kinds of safety systems you see in cars today, will be coming to electric bikes in the near future.”