Given that its Bike to Work Week during Biking Month, I should probably be posting a bit more towards biking and what I’m doing. But to be honest, I’ve not done much at all on my bike lately. It has been a hard restart to riding this year, partially because of my bike’s location of being no where near those kinds of places that I would usually ride. That, and the slightly pressing travel schedule have pushed biking further to the edge of my life than I’d really like it to be. And yet, there’s a glimmer of light that I’ll get back on, and that innovations like the Project Aura Bike Lighting System could push me out there just a bit more.
Essentially, Project Aura is an system of LEDs, put within the rim of the front and rear tires of the bicycle, and then mated to a front-wheel hub dynamo that activates the lighting when the wheels are moving. The interesting, and probably most forward-thinking aspect of this (its not just lit rims such as the Cyglo Concept) is that the color and intensity of the LEDs is based on your speed. When you are stopped or slowing down, they are red. The faster you go, the whiter they get.
Project Aura was developed by Ethan Frier and Jonathan Ota – industrial design students at Carnegie Mellon University and supported by an undergraduate research grant. Really excellent work they are doing, and the kind of work that does address the problem with visibility in low-light situations that many people find that they bike in (or in my case, only seem to have time to bike in).
As i watched the Project Aura video, I had only the question of “now, what is the use of the accessory light?” If you will, the LED-rims help me to be seen, I’d now have to account also for the fact that I need to see. For example, if I were biking in Charlotte, I’d not just be concerned with being seen on the roads, but also seeing some of the road hazards in front of me. Being able to possibly also power a projected light from that front dynamo would seem to be a great (and economical) idea here. I wonder if it needs an “off” switch for the day, but since you are technically generating power, who says that having a bit of extra light, even on the sunny days, is a bad thing?
Gosh, seeing this just makes me wish that I went out before the week of rain around me. And not that even rain should be a deterrent, but its not just slick (for my tires) but hard to be seen. Project Aura would address the latter – and a decent set of tires and fenders the former. Nevertheless, I’m glad that people are thinking through some of the issues related to cycling for those whom are getting out there and riding without excuse. Keep it safe folks, and someone get these kids into into a factory making this standard for all bikes.