Bright ideas

Cyclist safety is a serious business. According to the Department for Transport, 11% of UK adults cycle on the roads once a week or more. That means millions of people on the roads both day and night.

But with increased numbers of cyclists comes increased likelihood of accidents and deaths. Cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and a large part of this vulnerability lies in their visibility – or lack thereof.

It’s a strange fact that, while most aspects of cycling have come on in leaps and bounds in a technological sense, the same cannot be said for their lights. While there have obviously been great improvements in high-visibility clothing and reflectors, there has been relatively little innovation in the most obvious form of visibility, the bicycle lamp.

The challenge

So that is this month’s challenge: to come up with a bicycle light that is able to ensure cyclists are visible at all times and in all conditions to other road users. As ever, we have a solution in mind, but we’d like to hear what you come up with.

The idea we have in mind will be revealed in the January 2020 issue of Eureka! Until then, see what you can come up with. Submit your ideas by leaving a comment on the Coffee Time Challenge section of the Eureka! website or by emailing the editor:

The solution

The solution to last month’s Coffee Time Challenge of how to invent a more effective bicycle light comes from Ireland in the form of the Kogli light. This smart light senses the ambient lighting conditions and adjusts its brightness in order to maximise the cyclist’s visibility.

In practical terms, this means that the light is brightest during the day for maximum effect and dims at night to avoid dazzling people while still adequately illuminating the way ahead.

In addition, the light incorporates proximity sensors, enabling it to detect vehicles and these then trigger the light to flash dynamically if they get within a dangerous range of the cyclist, increasing the chances that the vehicle driver will see the cyclist.

The light also uses motion sensors to detect the cyclist braking and illuminates like a car brake light, giving people following an indication of what is happening.

What is really innovative and ground-breaking about this product is its final feature. The data from the light’s sensors is stored and the anonymous information gathered can be used to analyse traffic patterns and road safety factors from a cyclist’s perspective.

It analyses how the cyclist moves in conjunction with their external environment and this is then combined with known locations of previously reported crashes and fatalities to further verify the analysis and predictions.