Welcome back! For our first #FantasticForumFriday of 2017, we are joined by Jenny Holt of LEDLights.co.uk with an article on Bicycle Safety and how LED technology can help. Got a question? Get in touch!
Cycling has come on a long way since the days of large, clunky lights which cut out whenever anyone hit a bump or the battery ran out after only a little use. Since the 1990s, however, LED lights powered by better batteries have become long term, reliable, and economic to run lights for cyclists across the world. In fact, they are just as bright as other lights and more flexible too.
However, cyclist safety is evolving as people, companies, and research institutes look at new ways to create technology designed to help protect cyclists. There are only a few limited areas to go on – the bike, gear such as helmets, and visibility. Over the last decade, LED lights have become bright and more reliable than ever before. Already lighting is developing to cover headgear too, producing headlamps like the miners of yore, and even replacing high visibility jackets with LED light jackets which glow whether a light is shone on it or not. This is just the start, and you can find out about new technology from projections to lit cycle paths in this article on how LEDs are helping cyclists.
How LED Lights are Improving Cyclist Visibility
There was a time when cyclists were almost invisible at night. Dark or normal clothing, maybe a temperamental incandescent light bulb attached to the front of the bike. Cyclists, however, were one of the first groups to truly see the benefit of the LED when in the 90s, bike lights began to improve with front and rear LED lights. LEDs and connected lighting in general have produced some interesting additions to the reservoir of safety tech of late, here’s a few of them:
One of the main problems for cyclists is being seen. New, brighter LEDs are allowing cyclists to be more visible than ever before. Now it is possible to have front facing lights with over 500 lumens of power and tail lights with over 300 lumens. In addition to bike lights, many cyclists now also wear helmet lamps to further increase the amount of light they project.
LED Integrated Clothing
The High-vis jacket has replaced glow in the dark strips on most cyclists, but now, due to the small size of some LED lights, it is possible to take this idea to the next level. Instead of reflecting light like a cat’s eye, some companies are creating clothing which creates light too. These do not require large batteries or random wiring, and are lightweight and flexible with a single light on the shoulder or elsewhere on the chest area in order to again, increase light coverage on the cyclist.
The Light Projector
A recent Kickstarter project from Blaze Bikes’ Emily Brooke in London raised enough money to go forward with a product which produces a green light projection of a bicycle symbol 15 foot ahead of the cyclist, making it easier for people and traffic to see that a cyclist is coming.
Lane Definition Lights
Not necessarily an LED this one, but XFire BikeLane have created a tail light project which produces either constant beam or flashing laser lights at the rear of the bike. Rather than pointing backwards, thes angle down to the road either side of the bike to delineate the safe ‘lane’ zone for the cyclist letting those nearby know what distance to keep.
Safety is Not Just on the Bicycle
Van Gogh sparkling LED path
LED brick trackway
So far we have covered LED’s contributions to cycle safety by looking at the bikes and on the person if you view them as a single entity. However, LEDs have a greater effect on that. First off, and a little controversially in some places, these bulbs are replacing existing, yellow traditional bulbs as a form of street lighting. Some experts do believe that these whiter lights do make it easier for drivers to see moving objects be they pedestrians, animals, or cyclists.
In addition to this, Transport Scotland via Bear Scotland needed to select a solar-powered solution to cycle path illumination which could be a fantastic idea. The idea was to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety without using lighting which could distract drivers. Slightly reminiscent of the van Gogh sparkling path, the solution was to pick a LED brick technology which creates off-grid, waterproof, illumination in a manner of cat’s eyes, but without the bumps, giving an illuminated trackway to help guide cyclists in the dark.
Comprehensive Approaches Required
LED light bulbs are a single element of improving overall cyclist safety on Britain’s roads and on the roads of other nations across the world. Each country has its own ideas and solutions, many of them good and viable, but few have created comprehensive plans for cyclist safety. In short, taking ideas from around the world could do this.
Another element which is lacking is infrastructure plans designed to fully integrate cyclist routes with both public transport and general vehicular routes. Currently, many cities like Bristol have a frustrating mishmash of cycle lanes, cycle paths and open roads, often on the same road. Cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen provide the benchmark for international standards on cyclist protection. This includes a full range of improvements including awareness lessons for both drivers and cyclists; especially for HGV drivers. Sensible and fully laid out and realised cycle routes avoiding main roads wherever possible, and retrofitting side-guards and mirrors on HGVs to improve visibility. This can be achieved in most towns and cities.
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Until next week!
We are the leading supplier of LED lights, LED bulbs and commercial lighting solutions in the UK. LED lights are revolutionising the way we think about lighting spaces. The variety of LED bulbs and luminaries is only limited by the imagination of design. Low temperatures and colour availability give designers the ability to create environments which enhance our surroundings. Brighter lights and energised ambiance provide us with improved wellbeing and more productive and healthy work places. LED lights use up to 90% less energy than conventional bulbs. And while you are cutting down on energy consumption you are also enhancing the look of any area of the home, office or outdoor space.
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