It sometimes amazes here at BurnTech that anybody ever dares jump on a bike. according to Jeremy Wall, founder of the latest Kickstarter project to emerge with the apparent intention of terrifying us into using their gear, there has been an “alarming rise in cycling, pedestrian and motorist accidents globally”. Wall’s company Lumenus exists to help cut back on needless accidents.
This sounds like a hugely onerous task which far out-spans the remit of a crowd-funded start-up, but it is not to downplay the work that the guys at Lumenus have carried out, and the need that their wearable technology is fulfilling. As it is actually very interesting. Consisting of backpacks and jackets which connect with your smartphone, they are able to fire off a series of road signals that you’d expect to see from motorised forms of transport, including break lights and indicators, using the bluetooth connection with your smartphone.
Lumenus see “Fashionable tech based apparel to prevent accidents from ever occurring is our solution.”, with the aim being prevention of accidents by using the latest wearable technology in order to help the cyclist better juxtapose themselves from the urban environment in which they can unwittingly camouflage into.
It is interesting to note the global trends around cycling accidents. In countries like the United States and the UK, where safety gear is ubiquitous, accident rates are actually much higher then in countries like Holland, which are seen as much more ‘cycling friendly’, with less accidents but also interestingly, much less gear. In the Netherlands market, surprisingly few cyclists even bother to wear helmets.
The reality though is that cycling is getting safer. Yes cyclists have to look out for their own health and safety, and of course making yourself visible at night is of paramount importance in this quest. However in the US, according to the NHTSA, who administer the US highway safety and who issued their latest safety fact sheet recently, the number of cycling miles has doubled between 2001 and 09 (and has likely continued to grow), yet cycling fatalities have been flatlined at just 700 per year.
So actually, there is arguably no great market need for products like the one that Lumenus offer. Yes safety has improved, you would argue. yes we;re all more aware. Yes, seemingly every fatal road traffic accident gets umpteen local news coverage, causing a greater red scale. However in reality, cycling is safe and as a result, the innovative start-ups combatting this space are having to whip up fear, and are having to try and terrify us into buying their gear.
So as reassuring as such technology can be, and that is no bad thing at all, is it really worth the sort of investment that equates to nearly half as much as your bike cost? The honest answer is maybe not – you’d probably be better buying some good lights and donating your savings to a local cause around providing better cycling facilities and cycling lanes. That’s our $0.02 worth.