Saturday, October 29, 2011

What! Yet Another Kickstarter Bike Lighting Project

If I strap LEDs to my bike's fork and seat posts, it becomes relevant???

Earlier in the day, I posted about another, successfully funded Kickstarter bike lighting proposal - well, I had forgotten to search on Kickstarter for both 'bike' and 'bicycle' and it turns out there is this one as well, for the 'LED by Lite' bicycle lighting system.

These folks are taking the more difficult fundraising approach and emphasizing safety over fun. (Fun proposals seem to do better on Kickstarter with bikes in my experience than ones emphasizing safety benefits.) They also introduce a "dashboard" and the ability to have your bike lighting system operate as a turn signal system - a recipe for previous failed Kickstarter proposals.

As someone who rides somewhere over 4,000 miles a year on my bikes, there are a number of issues with this thing. Mostly it is just too complicated - the idea of having these things attached all over my bike plus a 12 volt battery system is just a non-starter. It takes the clean elegance of a bike and messes it up.

I also don't think much of the turn-signal idea. I don't think electric bicycle turn-signals contribute to safety; they are more of a distraction/complication for the rider. What's important is that motorists see the cyclist - that's it.

While the LEDs are bright, no doubt about it, they end up being low on the bike, which is the opposite of what is wanted generally. That's why some people wear headlights and tail-lights on their helmets, for example - to get the "be seen" lighting up high.

Even if you concede the "be seen" function of these lights as OK, the "see" part seems a little sketchy as shown in the video - the front-facing white lights are housed in a defuser (that is waterproof and crushproof should a car drive over them, an interesting possibility presented in the video, that a car might be driving over them) that means there doesn't seem to be much focused light forward.

I switch between four different bikes, but three if you don't include the semi-serious road bike. A "lighting system" that can't be swapped between different bikes in less than 5 minutes isn't particularly useful for me just on that basis.

But what really fries my something-or-other is the notion that wacky technology like this is what's needed to make my bike a "relevant vehicle." I tend to assume that they simply are using "relevant" (oddly) to mean that the bike will be as visible ("relevant") as a car, but . . . anyway, ugh.

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