The Lighter Side Of Cycling: See And Be Seen!

Here in the UK the clocks have just changed which means that cycling commuters such as my good self can look forward to six months of travelling to and from work without having to remember to fix the lights on the bike for all except the earliest of starts and latest of finishes. So it seems a strange time for companies to be launching some innovative products to help cyclists (and others) to be seen, if not always necessarily to see. Here are three:

Brainy Bike Lights

Invented by a chap called Crawford Hollingworth, a behavioural scientist, they are described as ‘combining brain science with clever new lighting technology to make cycling safer‘ and have been ‘verified in extensive tests over the past two years by the University of Oxford‘. So there you go! The inventor, was inspired to create the lights following his experiences of cycling in London and Oxford.

And here is the science behind them;

Untitled1It’s a major safety breakthrough because they increase cyclist ‘standout’ in urban light clutter.  The inventor used behavioural psychology to design a light using the international ‘cyclist on a bike symbol’.  This creates a cognitive short cut to drivers brains alerting them that there’s a cyclist nearby but also a vulnerable human being.  Combined with new Edge lighting technology the symbol lights can be seen clearly in sharp focus at all angles from up to 20 metres. And they work almost as well in daylight as at night. These lights (white front/red back) speed up driver reaction, awareness and stopping times.

They remind me a little of lights that I have seen which project an image of a bike onto the road in front of and behind the cyclist and I do believe the science. When I lived in France during the 1990s many schools had a large plastic cartoon character just outside their gate. The figure had one leg in the air as if it was about to start to cross the road. Even though I knew that it was a comical plastic sculpture, every time I saw one, I immediately hit the brakes of the car that I was driving. I never ran over any children. More information about Brainy Bike Lights on their website. They cost £50 for a pair. I can see how they will be of use in an urban setting but for my own commute which is through the middle of the dark countryside of Oxfordshire I will still need my very bright CatEye rechargeable lights that not only allow others to see me but also illuminate the road in front of me.

The Commuter X4 Rear Bike Light

I’m not sure if there was ever an X1, X2 or indeed X3 but the people behind this light are up for an award at The Gadget Show Live which takes place between 8th and 13th April 2014 at the NEC in Birmingham so it must have merit.


It is, according to the website, a wearable rear light which is adjustable on back packs of up to 35 litres. It can also be worn over the shoulders without a back pack. It has a projective central LED chip light plus four LED fibre optic light guides. It is USB rechargeable, fits over rain covers, is water resistant and has multiple flash and fade settings. The picture here shows one of the devices attached to a pannier on the side of a bike which I do like. The most dangerous moments of my commutes to work are when I am crossing large roundabouts and the motorists approaching the junction don’t see me (and my very bright lights, or so their gestures claim…) as they at a right angle towards the bike. They could be useful.

The Zondo Firefly Bag

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 18.42.53This is a more general piece of equipment that is aimed at anyone who might want to choose to use a small backpack and isn’t meant to be a replacement for cycling lights. The system is still in development and the people behind the product are looking for funding via KickStarter. I have a feeling that it might have features on Dragons’ Den recently (certainly something similar did). There is a video on the KickStarter page in which former athlete and man behind the project, Rick Beardsell, explains all you need to know. You can invest from just £5 all the way up to £1,000 should you wish.

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