As a long time bicyclist (“cyclist”) and motorcyclist (“biker” here in the US), there is an app I would like to see built ~ one that protects us two-wheelers from car and truck drivers (four-wheelers) who are unaccustomed to looking for us, and who therefore accidentally kill us.
In 2011, in the United States, 38,000 cyclists were injured and 677 killed by motorists. Far worse are the 2011 statistics for bikers: 4,612 were killed in the US. These data are alleged to be under-reported and don’t include numbers for outside the US where two-wheeled vehicles are much more prevalent, so we can only guess at how high the toll is worldwide. High.
When I ride, trust me, I feel pretty damn exposed, so I am on hyper-alert for drivers who are not looking for me, which is to say most. I suspect my fellow riders feel the same. More than once I have had to scream forward, “Hey! Cyclist Coming!” when approaching a four-wheeler waiting to turn left and looking ahead for cars, but not for me. Those are the drivers who pull out at the last minute, like the one who recently sent four of my fellow riders to the hospital with bones in their hands and forearms so smashed they looked like the crumbles in the bottom of the cracker box. Sad.
Even worse for us cyclists is getting “doored.” That’s when a driver, parked and ready to exit his vehicle but unaware you are approaching from the rear, opens his car door directly in your path. Ouch. “Anti-dooring” legislation certainly can help drivers become more aware and, hopefully, thoughtful (but not in my state of Virginia, where it was recently voted down), but I submit drivers could use some help from technology.
My idea is for two-wheel riders to permit their GPS transponder, like the one in their smartphone, to transmit their real-time location to a four-wheeler’s smartphone or, better yet, to the telematics device embedded in the four-wheeler’s dashboard. When a two-wheeler is “in proximity,” say within ten seconds as calculated by the two vehicle’s direction and rate of speed, a notification would sound ~ “Bike Nearby!” ~ and a graphic would appear showing the relative position of the bike to the vehicle. This would give the four-wheel driver one more notice (in addition to flashing lights and shouting cyclist) to watch out, and give the two-wheeler one more advantage (in addition to a good helmet and bike safety training) for a safe ride.
Now in areas where two-wheelers are dense, say New York City or Europe, this app would be maddening and need to be turned off. But for much of the US, where cyclists and bikers are relatively rare, four-wheelers are prone to forget about us. But that is exactly the problem this app would solve. It would be a real-time reminder ~ Bike Nearby.
So readers ~ does this app exist? If yes, please let me know about it.
If no, then let’s get on it, for every day without it is another life lost that could have been one of my children, or yours.