Speed Vest broadcasts cyclists' speed to motorists

By Peter Suciu, from Roseville, MI | Friday, October 28, 2011 3.30pm

Some of the most dangerous car versus bike interactions come when drivers make assumptions about bikes, and the most dangerous assumption may be about a rider's speed. Brady Clark and Mykle Hansen have developed a product called Speed Vest, which broadcasts a cyclists speed to motorists using a vest that doubles as a Neon billboard.

The inspiration for the vest came to Clark while he was riding downhill and keeping pace with traffic on a congested road. “Even though it’s the law in many cities in the US that a cyclist can make full use of a lane, drivers don't necessarily know this,” Brady Clark told BikeRadar. “I figured if people could see the speed I was going, they might honk less. Anyone can easily bike 10mph, and it’s not unreasonable for an average bicyclist to reach upwards of 25mph in good conditions.”

The speed vest:

Clark and Mykle's Speed Vest

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As the name of this garment implies, the Speed Vest is an outer shell that can be worn while riding over other cycling attire. As a cyclist rides, a speed sensor on the bike transmits to the display on the back of the vest, which is made up of a series of seven-inch tall electroluminescent (or cool Neon) digits. In addition to the speed reading, the vest has the words ‘My Speed’ in large, reflective letters. So far the feedback the duo has received has been very good. “We've received a lot of attention from people who would like to use them for races and other events as well as people who want to build one for themselves,” says Brady, who is also a League Cycling Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists."

The duo has gone another route too, instead of creating a prototype and developing the Speed Vest for retail, they have opted to develop it for the home-brew community.“We published instructions on how to do so in Make Magazine," said Clark.

The pair are thinking of the future; they are already looking at ways to improve version 2.0 of the vest, which could include Zigbee modules to transmit speed data, and a redesign of the numeric display, which will show speeds from 1 to 99 mph. The pair has found that despite the hyped benefits that LED bulbs may offer in the home, riders should not expect to wear those on your back. “We tinkered with the idea of using LED lights, but they're no lighter or smaller, and they consume a lot more power than the electroluminescent wire we chose,” said Brady. “We have a lot of ideas for gadgets and gizmos, but the best way besides well designed biking facilities to improve safety is to educate bicyclists on how to bike more predictably and motorists on what rights are afforded to bicyclists.”

For now, however, it's full Speed Vest ahead.

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