Cycling just got safer

Forty percent of cycling injuries occur when vehicles hit cyclists from behind. Unlike runners, cyclists travel along with traffic and are not always aware of vehicles approaching from the rear. For this reason, Stellenbosch-based software company iKubu designed the Varia Rear-view Bike Radar and Varia Smart Bike Lights.

iKubu was acquired by Garmin at the beginning of the year, and the tech giant will be launching these devices soon.

GUIDING LIGHT: The Varia Rear-view Bike Radar can detect vehicles approaching cyclists from behind and can alert both cyclists and motorists.  Photo: Provided

GUIDING LIGHT: The Varia Rear-view Bike Radar can detect vehicles approaching cyclists from behind and can alert both cyclists and motorists. Photo: Provided

The Rear View Bike Radar is a red tail light mounted onto the back of a bicycle and detects approaching vehicles from 140m away, explains Marc Bainbridge, fitness category manager at Garmin Southern Africa. It is used in conjunction with a radar display or head unit. The light flashes intensely and more brightly as a vehicle approaches and shows up to eight approaching vehicles on the radar display.

The light flashes intensely and more brightly as a vehicle approaches and shows up to eight approaching vehicles on the radar display.

The radar, which took three years to develop from initial concept to final product, can be used independently or with a range of compatible cycling computers by Garmin called Edge. It will display approaching vehicles (as a dot) on the side of a screen, which will move up the screen as a vehicle approaches the cyclist, explains Bainbridge. Alternatively the cyclist can use a head unit with a flashing light – the light flashes green when there is no danger and as soon as a vehicle is detected, the light flashes orange. When there is a greater risk, or a fast-approaching vehicle, the light flashes red.

The Varia Smart Bike Lights also contribute to safe cycling. Used in conjunction with Edge products, a tail light will illuminate when the cyclist brakes, much like a vehicle’s brake lights would. This is particularly useful when cyclists ride together as a group, warning them to slow down if the cyclist ahead of them brakes, Bainbridge says. By adding a second tail light, cyclists are able to use the lights as indicators for signalling left and right turns.

There is also an option for a headlight that projects over a greater distance for cyclists travelling at faster speeds. When the cyclist slows down, then less of the path is illuminated to see obstacles closer to them.

This article was featured in Finweek magazine.

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