Thursday, October 29, 2015

Visibility and Responsibility: Part I

I recently had my eye on a Kickstarter campaign that was cancelled. This isn't an extraordinary incident-- I've seen it happen before. This time, I believe, was a bit unusual. The idea behind TurnCycle, the gesture controlled bike light that signals left or right, is a good one. I've wondered how well drivers can see my hand signals at night. Are their headlights sufficient? Are they even paying enough attention to notice my hand signals? A turn signal for my bike would be a nice compliment to the measures I already take to make myself visible to cars. I doubt I'm alone in that idea, but TurnCycle reached a little more than 6% funding.

If you watch the video for TurnCycle, the failure of the campaign and the reason for its cancellation becomes quite obvious. It's completely tone deaf to the reality of cyclists. The light's creator says she was spurred to action by the "many bicyclists that have met with a motorist." She was moved by the patients she encountered as a physical therapist to try to help prevent the injuries that will cause them to "suffer for a long, long time." In just seconds, she manages to make cycling sound dangerous and motorists sound blameless for the collisions that have brought her clients to her. She goes on to say, "If these bicyclists could've been seen better and if the motorists would've known what they were doing, we could've probably prevented all of these injuries."

Now, I don't know about y'all, but when a vehicle ahead of me in the road is doing something I can't quite predict, I tend to hang back until I can recognize what they're going to do. In fact, it seems completely irrational to plow into a human being on a bike because you're not sure of which way he or she is turning. Does the uncertainty drive the motorist mad or something? And I'm sure the cyclists in question are taking adequate measures to be seen. This project is coming out of the bike-friendliest city in America-- Minneapolis, Minnesota-- where I'm sure cyclists can find all kinds of reflective, glowing, and blinking goods for their bikes and persons. Blaming cyclists for not being visible enough isn't the way to distinguish yourself in the marketplace.

According to an update from TurnCycle's creator, she wants to hear from the public about improvements that could be made to the product (not the campaign) in order to foster the success of her venture next go round. Not knowing how long it will take this woman to get it, I suggest you explore your options. The second part of this post will feature many of the lights, bike accessories, clothing items, and clothing accessories that I find useful or unique. (I also have some interesting hi-viz finds here). In the meantime, a discussion about driver accountability would be incredibly beneficial to all road-users.


Yokota Fritz said...

I like the idea of a turn signal light that you don't have to think about to use, and there are many many many similar products on Kickstarter and elsewhere that promise the same as the one you linked too. I agree absolutely about the failure of doom-and-gloom messaging, but I don't think it's the only (or even the primary) reason this Kickstarter didn't meet its funding goal.

Courtnee said...

I guess I missed the other turn signal campaigns-- I can't recall any other ones. If there have been lots of other bike turn signals, I can see how that would've hurt this particular project, especially if the other campaigns had better messaging.

Yokota Fritz said...

Here's one that's kind of popular in my area that began as a Kickstarter project

The messaging is a little more slick than the example you found.

Courtnee said...

Oh yeah, I remember those! I don't recall the campaign, but I remember the gloves. The fact that you can see the battery freaked me out a bit, but I'm sure it's sufficiently waterproof.

Lisa said...

The campaign concept is great! I agree, riders should take responsibility in being visible on the road. Co-existence between cyclists and motorists (and even pedestrians) is a two-way street.

Courtnee said...

Are you talking about TurnCycle or Zackees?

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