Gone are the times when cycling was a low-tech pursuit: A galaxy of innovations is waiting to be discovered, making cycling more accessible, safer and more fun. Here are this summer’s tech highlights.
Like many cities, London has seen an explosion in cycling while road space is decidedly finite – or is it? Architects Foster+Partners have come up with a bold new idea to solve the conundrum: a 220 km network of cycle super highways above the existing railway lines that criss-cross the metropolis. The project is just one of many eye-catching architectural visions presented at the first Bicycle Architecture Biennial in Amsterdam.
Other highlights include the West Village Basis Yard apartment complex in Chengdu, China, where cyclists can ride from their tenth floor apartments all the way down to the ground, and the Medibank building in Melbourne with a spiraling bike ramp inside the main atrium.
Lock it up (and throw away the key)
Future generations will consider inserting small bits of metal into a hole to gain access to one’s property as quaint as writing with a quill or spinning one’s one yarn. It’s a good job, then, that Bitlock replaces the key with the owner’s cellphone: as soon as both come into range, the lock disarms and can be easily opened or closed at the push of a button – without the need to dig around in your purse or pocket. Better still: the included app allows the bicycle’s owner to set up (and revoke) access privileges to friends and family for any desired length of time. That makes Bitlock a miniature bikeshare: handy for house guests or bikes that would otherwise remain unused.
Wisdom of the crowds
All too often, cracked pavements, deep potholes, badly designed junctions or poor lighting forces cyclists to take evasive action, quietly cursing under their breaths as they ride away from the scene. Unfortunately, the next rider may not be so lucky and come off of his bike altogether. To avoid this scenario, Germany’s RADar! app helps users notify city authorities of any cycling pitfalls they may not be aware of. Brussels has a similar app, too, and it’s only a matter of time until the technology will be adopted elsewhere.
See and be seen
Riding in the dark is always a gamble and highly dangerous. Luckily, there’s a whole raft of gizmos that help bikers shine brightly, dramatically reducing their likelihood of being involved in a crash. First, there’s Wing Lights, a set of detachable indicator lights.
After all, 75 percent of collisions with bikes occur at intersections. Even cooler are Zackees Turn Signal gloves. Just squeeze the side of your palm with your thumb, and other traffic are in no doubt as to your next maneuver. While we’re at it, Proviz have a whole range of hyper-reflective gear, from clothes to bags, and the Lumos helmet actually has a front and rear light built into it. How neat is that?
Go your own way
It’s easy to fit your smartphone to your handle bar and flick the sat nav on – but let’s face it, it’s also a bit dull and prescriptive. The genius behind Beeline’s compass is that it improves customary navigation systems by stripping it of functionality. Instead of giving turn-by-turn directions, Beeline simply points riders in the direction of their final destination – cyclists do the rest. It’s a wonderful way to follow your intuition while having the reassurance of being on the right track.