Cyclist warning device for drivers could save lives

10-year-old's invention wins BBC competition

A 10-year-old from north Wales has designed a promising cyclist warning system for motorists after a schoolfriend was killed in a road crash.

Tybalt Melia's Bike Bleeper fits to the handlebar of your bike and sends out a signal to nearby car radios. Drivers then receive both audible and visible warnings that a cyclist is ahead. Bosses at a satellite navigation system company have already expressed interest in the idea.

While the prototype developed for CBBC's My Genius Idea series – a junior Dragons' Den, which Tybalt won – is somewhat clunky, we can see the potential safety benefits of a device that could one day plot bikes' positions on car sat-navs.

In his sales pitch to judge Tom Lawton, Tybalt said: "The reason I invented the Bike Bleeper was because a friend from school was knocked off his bike and killed. I was really upset about that so I thought, 'maybe there's some device that I can make that will stop people like my friend getting killed on their bikes'."

He added: "The device should be mostly used on quiet country roads because if it was in big cities it would be bleeping every second. It wouldn't just be used for cyclists – it could be used for horse riders, runners or any other road users. Soon I hope that many lives will be saved with this device."

The prototype Bike Bleeper is primitive-looking and bulky but the idea has potential and could easily be scaled down

Tybalt hopes the Bike Bleeper – the title contains the name of his friend who was killed, Lee – will eventually go on sale, in a much smaller and sleeker package, for under £10. "I think you have a device that has the potential to save lives right now," Lawton told him. "You've impressed me from the word go. Well done." 

Andy Adkin from sustainable transport charity Sustrans said: "It does a lot to complement existing cycle safety things we've got out there, like helmets, hi-vis jackets, just road sense as well... This will be another item that people can carry with them to help keep themselves safe while they're out cycling. I think it's fantastic."

Paul Beckett from Manchester City Council said there were clear limitations for urban use but "the basis is there for a really good idea", and British Cycling instructor Ernie Buck warned that the device could lead to complacency but said that, in a rural environment, "I can see it being an absolutely perfect way of warning people who are maybe quite a distance away that you're there, as a cyclist".

The Bike Bleeper isn't Tybalt's first award-winning invention. When he was seven he won an Urdd youth movement design and technology competition with his Bag Belt, a portable seatbelt for use on buses.

You can watch the final of My Genius Idea here., and the episode where Tybalt tests the Bike Bleeper for the first time here.

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