With bicyclist safety growing into a high-profile topic in cities across the country, bike companies at the national Interbike trade show are showcasing this week a slew of new bicycle products to make cyclists more visible to motorists in hopes of reducing fatalities and crashes.
Bicycle industry buyers packed POC North America’s space to check out fluorescent orange helmets, which are part of a new line of bright-colored helmets dubbed, “AVIP,” for attention, visibility, interaction and protection.
Several companies such Topeak and Planet Bike showed portable white and red lights with USB connections that clip on bicycle handlebars and rear bags, which can be taken off the bikes and recharged at bicyclists’ computers.
Sock companies like Save Our Soles are crafting socks with neon designed into the material. Save Our Soles, of Westminster, Colo., showed its new “Team Visibility” neon line.
And more companies are unveiling a growing number of affordable cameras that can be mounted on helmets and handlebars to document cars and trucks that strike bicyclists. The cameras that were designed for mountain bikers to capture epic rides are now being used for practical purposes of chronicling a car tag.
With hundreds of bicyclists being struck by motorists every month in the country — especially after dark — being visible to operators of motorized vehicles is the first line of defense for people on two wheels.
Bicycle safety hit home here in the Las Vegas area in June when the driver of a dump truck struck and killed 33-year-old bicyclist Peter John Makowski on northbound Las Vegas Boulevard at mile marker 17 near Sloan.
“The biggest enemy of the bicyclist is the motorist and we use a lot of fluorescent colors,” said Kevin Warnock of POC, based in Aspen, Colo.
The company’s marketing and sales director said POC’s new high-visibility helmets are not only fluorescent but covered with reflective material, too, so that drivers can see bicyclists from any direction and from 1,000 feet. The helmet retails for $270.
“It’s all about bicyclists drawing attention to themselves,” said Nat Ross, the POC marketing staffer. “We want bicyclists to feel safe and be protected.”
With bicycle commuting on the rise, bike companies are rolling out bicycle lights with a rechargable USB connection that can be juiced up when the bicycle is not in use.
A small Longmont, Colo., company called Bison Designs has developed several small portable lights with USB connections, along with bracelets and pant leg ties that have lights built into them.
Topeak even showed fenders with an LED lighting system that clip on bikes for $44.95 a set.
“More and more people are riding bikes for transportation, not just recreation,” said Eric Sakalowky, Topeak sales and marketing director. “People are using rechargable USB lights because you can ride in the morning to work, then plug your light into your computer. You then have peace of mind that your light will be charged for the ride home.”
Camera systems are popular because if a bicyclist does get hit by a car driver, the video can be used to track down the motorist. In fact, Doug Mann, vice president of marketing and product development of camera company Epic, said more and more bicyclists are placing cameras on both the front and rear of bikes.
“If you’re commuting to work and a vehicle swings near you or hits you, the camera can catch a tag number,” Mann said. Prices for Epic cameras run from $79 to $249, with video recorded on a memory card.
Interbike has attracted 800 worldwide bike companies representing 1,200 brands, and 25,000 exhibitors, retailers, suppliers and industry officials. It’s North America’s biggest bicycle trade show and is being held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for the first time after a dozen years at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The show ends Friday.
Alan Snel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273. Follow him at @bicyclemansnel.