Cycling accident statistics on the website of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (“RoSPA”) make uncomfortable reading: 113 killed, 3401 serious injuries and a further 17,773“slight injuries” – and these are “only” the accidents reported to the police. Around 75% of these “accidents” occurred in urban areas and 80% are in daylight.
The most common contributory factor recorded by the police is “failed to look properly”, sometimes by the cyclist, but more often by the vehicle driver. What many of us cyclists know as a SMIDSY (“Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You”). No wonder then that RoSPA advise “Be seen, be safe” and to “wear bright clothing, preferably something fluorescent and reflective to help other road users to see you more easily. Always use lights and reflectors in the dark and poor visibility”.
The accident figures are much larger in the USA, a bigger country with substantially larger population: each year, nearly 50,000 cyclists are injured and 700 killed. This prompted two avid cyclists to form a company called RoadwareZ, a developer of wearable technologies for active individuals.
“We formed RoadwareZ after one of my co-founders witnessed a terrible bicycle accident while vacationing,” said Zena Krispin, co-founder of RoadwareZ. “Yet while developing the concept, we also noticed the growing trend of social cycling in groups. This influenced us to build a product that is equally about safety and social interaction, thus making cycling more fun and interesting whether you’re a new rider, an adult enthusiast or a retired hobbyist.”
RoadwareZ has now formally launched and released early details about its debut product: a ‘smart vest’ for cyclists: this side of the pond, we might also call it a tabard. This lightweight combination of wearable technology and mobile app will include a variety of features designed to keep cyclists safe, smart and social and brings cycling safety into the digital age.
RoadwareZ’s product features a broad selection of safety features including LED turn and brake signals, GPS mapping and tracking, access (initially in the USA) to a 24/7 emergency monitoring service – and ultimately a rear-facing camera and microphone. We can tell that the product is state of the art in wearable technology by the seven international patents which are pending.
The vest’s social media capabilities include:
• Social engagement and chat via Bluetooth connection
• GPS tracking to ensure that groups that ride together stay safe
• Ability to find new friends and riders near you
As a touring club rider, I am interested in not just the safety but also the ability to talk via Bluetooth to other riders, particularly as we are regularly having to remind ourselves to leave gaps for cars to be able to pass and, crucially, be able to pull in between us if there is a vehicle coming the other way. Gaps are safer, but make conversation more difficult!
Aimed at riders of all ages who ride for exercise, leisure, sport or commuting purposes, RoadwareZ’s vest is aimed at cyclists of all skill levels. The product is scheduled to start shipping in the second quarter of 2016.
If you are interested in this new technology for safer and more sociable riding, you can receive product updates and pre-order alerts by signing up online.
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