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Renee Farris headshot

These Gadgets Make Your Bicycle Commute Safe and Fun


Companies say a large chunk of their carbon footprints come from employees driving to work. For example, REI states that about 34 percent of its operational greenhouse gas emissions are due to employee commutes. So, how can companies lighten that footprint and encourage employees to bike to work? Make it easy, safe and fun. Emphasize the benefits. Give them free bicycles to use, have places to park them, and have hot showers available. Also, set the example by bicycling to work yourself.

Bicycling not only helps preserve the earth. It also makes us happier and healthier. Unless you ride an electric bike, you’ll get exercise, and exercise creates happy dopamine chemicals in your brain. Studies also show that exercising and being outdoors reduces stress, energizes you, boosts your confidence and helps you sleep better. When you bike to work the environment thrives, you save money and you’re considered hip. It’s a win, win, win.

To help companies improve their environmental impact and to help you exercise, here’s a list of the newest bike gadgets that will help you pedal around town safely.

1. Copenhagen Wheel

The Copenhagen Wheel stores energy any time you brake or go downhill. It’s like playing Mario Kart and collecting coins to make your car go faster. As you pedal, the motor automatically kicks in and gives you a boost whenever your pedaling rhythm needs help. You can enter rider preferences through a smartphone app, and sensors track road conditions so you can share real-time information with other bicyclists.

All you have to do to turn your bike into this smart electric hybrid is replace your back wheel with the Copenhagen Wheel.

2. LifePaint

Don’t let working late hours keep you from bicycling to work. Car manufacturing company Volvo recently created LifePaint, a reflective spray that is invisible during the day, but glows brightly at night when illuminated by car headlights “making the invisible, visible.” LifePaint washes off and doesn’t damage your bicycle. An application lasts one week. It can also be sprayed on clothes, shoes, helmets, backpacks, skateboards, vacuum cleaners … or anything else you might want to ride down a street.

Volvo’s vision is that, by 2020, no one will be seriously injured or killed by a Volvo. The company's motto is: “The best way to survive a crash is to not crash.” Makes sense.

3. LED Turn Signal Gloves

LED Turn Signal Gloves will help you communicate your turning intentions to drivers on the road. This is perfect for night riding.

The future of biking to work

Soon, running with your dog may turn into biking with your drone. As you bike, the drone will fly in front or behind you to alert you to danger, and hopefully drivers won’t be so distracted that they hit you.

Or perhaps you’ll decide to commute on the Raht Racer, a three-wheeled bike that can zoom up to 70 miles per hour, so you can take it on highways. (Check it out below.) A bike that goes 70 mph on a highway sounds perfectly safe. No danger there.

Okay, so maybe the best way to encourage people to bicycle and ensure their safety is to redesign bike lanes and road intersections.

Urban designers have figured out how to create safe intersection crossing for bicyclists. Like most bike innovations, the Dutch came up with the idea first. There are four main elements to the intersection design: corner refuge island, forward stop bar for bicyclists, a setback bike crossing, and bicycle-friendly signal phasing. If you’re confused, watch the animated film below. The design looks like a really cool pinball game.

Better yet, maybe your neighborhood will decide to ban cars. Like this town in South Korea that banned cars for one month and had an Ecomobility Festival to help residents get an idea of how the future could be.

* Image credit: drburtoni, Flickr

Renee Farris headshotRenee Farris

Renee is a social impact strategist who works with companies to help them focus on key social and environmental opportunities. She loves connecting with people so feel free to contact her at renee.a.farris@gmail.com.

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