11 Innovative Ideas to Make You a Better (and Safer) Cyclist
By JESS BARRON
Over 5,000 cyclists from all over the U.S. and around the world have made pledges committing themselves to 30 days of biking for the entire month of April.
There are pledges from Minneapolis, Ottawa, Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee and Los Angeles (including me). I am the 5,035th person to register, and you can check out my pledge card. If people in Ottawa and Russia can do this, I should be able to do it in Los Angeles. My main obstacles are not snow, rain or cold weather, but rather the danger of distracted and frustrated drivers on the road during my bike commute.
Thinking about riding in April, but you don’t yet own a bike? Rent one by day or by week on Spinlister. We did a quick search for Los Angeles and found a wide selection of fixies, cruisers, mountain bikes and city bikes for rental from regular people with extra bikes sitting in their garages starting at $5 per day or $42 per week. It’s much cheaper than a bike rental shop!
If (like me!) you are concerned about your biking safety on the road, here are some new products with a goal of making us safer better bikers:
1. RearViz rear visibility armband mirror. This new product has been a game-changer for me since I received it a few months back. Created in Australia, it’s a weather-resistant collapsible convex mirror that you wear on your arm. It’s so much more convenient to look forward into my rear view mirror when trying to pull out into a lane of cars to make a left turn. COST: $35.99-$47.99, depending on size of armband, classic versus standard model and color.
2. Torch T1 LED light up helmet. I have often wished I could be covered in lights during my evening commutes home. The Torch LED helmet was funded as a successful Kickstarter campaign about 2 years back, and now the product is available for pre-order. It includes 10 integrated LED lights in the front and back of the helmet to help make you visible to everyone else on the road. They have approximately 12 hours of run time and take 1.5 hours to charge via USB charging cable. The design looks clean and geared to urban riders. COST: Pre-order $140-150, depending on color.
3. Badger Gear Light Up 360-degree LED Jacket. The Badger 360-degree LED jacket started as a Kickstarter project that got funded last year. It’s a bright yellow polyester jacket with LED string lights embedded within it so that you can be seen from any angle and every direction. It has a 1-oz rechargeable lithium battery that lasts for approximately 8 hours. COST: $129.99 on Amazon ($20 off). Also, there are a few retail stores in California that carry the jacket.
4. Hovding Swedish “Invisible” Bike Helmet/Airbag. Vanity and the avoidance of “helmet hair” is the reason why many bikers don’t wear helmets. To help solve this safety issue, two Swedish women set out to invent “the invisible bicycle helmet” a.k.a. a fashionable and comfortable neck collar that inflates to cover your head with an airbag in the event of an accident. After five years of research and $10 million in funding, they're now selling the invisible bike helmet. Rechargeable battery-powered accelerometers and gyroscopes inside the Hovding detect the typical motions involved in a bike crash via an algorithm that differentiates normal cycling from the motion that occurs in an accident. I haven’t tried the Hovding yet myself (it’s pricey), but I am VERY impressed with the ingenuity and imagination it took to create this product. COST: $600. There are retail locations across Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.
5. Strava cycling performance app for iPhone, Android and Garmin. A number of us on the LIVESTRONG.COM team are fans of the Strava app to track our biking mileage and speed. COST: Free for the standard app (which I use) or $6 per month for the Premium features.
6. Nathan hydration vest. So much easier to hydrate while hands-free. COST: Varies.
7. Polar Loop with chest strap. This activity tracker band is compatible with the Polar H6 bluetooth chest strap heart rate sensor (which I purchased separately) so that it can provide (and track) heart rate information as well. This makes it more accurate for cycling and spinning, which are not easily-measured in arm movement and “number of steps taken.” COST: $109.95 + $79.95 for chest strap.
8. Spinlister. If you don’t have a bike, or if yours is in the shop, consider renting one from Spinlister. Also, if you have an extra bike that you’d like to earn some money on, you can also list it on Spinlister. COST: Varies.
9. Eclipse Sun Sleeves. Avoid sun spots, tan lines, sun burns and skin cancer by slipping into these sun sleeves. These were created by a physical therapist who had started to see sun spots on her own hands and arms after moving to sunny Colorado from Vermont. Eclipse Sun Sleeves are made of a polyester spandex blend that stays in place, and they have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 50+. COST: $26.99.
10. Bike shares are blooming across the U.S. in 2013 and 2014. Capital Bikeshare in D.C. (one of the first bikeshares in North America, which now has more than 2,500 bikes at over 300 stations, costing $7 per day and $75 per year), Citi Bike (in NYC) ($9.95 per day or $95 per year), Bay Area Bike Share in San Francisco, Boston’s HubWay (1,100 bikes at $6 per day or $85 per year), Divvy bikes in Chicago ($7 per day and $75 per year), Nice Ride in Minnesota ($6 per day and $65 per year). Here’s a complete list of bikeshare cities in North America and those that are coming in 2014.
Watch this video about the success of D.C.’s bike share:
11. CicLAvia. This list goes up to eleven, because in Los Angeles we now have semi-regular CicLAvia events where different areas of the city are closed to cars on certain Sundays so that cyclists and skateboarders can enjoy them. This Sunday, April 6 is CicLAvia Iconic Wilshire Boulevard from 9 A.M.-4 P.M.. COST: Free. Who’s with us on attending this?
Readers - Do you own a bike? How often do you ride and for how many miles? Are you commuting by bike, going mountain biking for fun, riding a cruiser on the weekend or training for a race? If you hate biking, let us know why! Have you tried any of the products mentioned above? What do you think? Are there any cool or helpful biking products we’ve missed on our list. Leave a comment below and let us know.
Jess Barron is Editor-in-Chief of LIVESTRONG.COM. Read some of her other health and fitness articles here. A longtime foodie and fan of Farmer's Market food, Jess particularly loves heirloom tomatoes, fresh figs with burrata cheese, and anything with pumpkin or peanut butter in it! Her love for food fuels her desire to exercise daily. In the summer of 2012 Jess lost 20 pounds in a test group for a new fitness program. Some of her favorite workout routines include walking, running, yoga, P90X, INSANITY, and mixed martial arts. Jess's writing can also be found at Poprocks.com. She has appeared on MSNBC's "The Most," ABC News Now, and XM satellite radio and her writing has appeared on Wired.com and Yahoo!