Tuesday 16 September 2008

The Cyclist’s Speed Vest

US inventor Brady Clark said it would boost safety by making motorists more aware of bikes. The vest displays the wearer's speed on their backs in large, lighted numerals. It uses a sensor on the wheel to send a signal to a microcontroller that calculates the speed and turns the numbers on and off on the vest.

Mr Clark said: "The Speed Vest was invented because we were curious to know if putting more information in front of drivers might change their awareness of bicyclists. We suspect a lot of people don't realise that an average person can bike 10-15 mph." He said he thought the vest could encourage motorists to take up cycling if they realised they could pedal at relatively high speeds.

Oh yeah?

Personally, when it comes to so-called “road safety” I’m much more interested in high-tech stuff like this - though you can bet your boots it will be fiercely resisted by all sections of the road lobby and then watered down to the ‘advisory’ option by whichever government is in power at the time.

And talking of technology and "road safety", the real scandal is that the road lobby has successfully resisted the compulsory introduction of black boxes in all new cars, which would supply information such as the speed of vehicles at the time of a collision. At present they are only fitted in some emergency vehicles, but their importance is underlined by this case. A gushing profile of Gordon Brown in today’s Guardian asserts that His mind continues to race: about schemes to make it safer to walk home at night. Well, large numbers of pedestrians are killed each year by being hit on pavements by drivers who ‘lose control’ of their vehicles. Fitting a black box to every new car is just one aspect of genuinely making our roads safer – but somehow I can’t see Brown having any interest in introducing the relevant legislation before he vanishes from the political scene…