Consider the modern automobile. It is a wonder of safety-conscious engineering. Air bags. Anti-lock brakes. Crumple zones. Run-flat tires. Really, it takes considerable ingenuity and a can-do attitude to get yourself seriously injured in a car anymore.
And then there is the bicycle.
During the same 50 years when cars have gained enough sophisticated equipment to protect its passengers from even the most boneheaded of mistakes, the cyclist's protective equipment innovations number exactly one: a helmet.
Yes, it's 2007 and the best we've got to protect ourselves is a half-dome of styrofoam. Except that the half dome of styrofoam is mostly full of holes.
Gee, doesn't that make you feel downright invincible?
Toward improving the chances of surviving the mean streets - or singletrack, for that matter - on a bicycle, I have invented the following equipment to make riding a bike a safer, saner experience.
New bike computer functions
Here's an interesting fact that I just made up: Your bike computer has more computing power than a 1983 Cray Supercomputer. And yet, all it does is gauge your speed, distance, pitch, latitude, cadence, wattage, longitude, total feet climbed, and average rate of ascent, and your heart rate. What a slacker.
With a little programming and nine new wireless sensors, your bike computer could be made to do so much more. By sensing the humidity, road surface conditions, the amount of alcohol on your breath, tire air pressure, sudden fluctuations in your heart rate, and the angle of your bike to the ground, your bike can tell if you're about to fall over sideways, whether due to sliding out or simply falling asleep.
When your bike computer notices a slight problem, it simply beeps a gentle reminder. If it notices that you're wobbling considerably due to what it considers probable drunk cycling, it delivers an incapacitating electric shock to your hands via the handlebars and dials the police.
If it notices you've actually fallen down, the bike computer should phone an ambulance. Unfortunately, however, I have so far been unable to get this feature to work. Every time my bike falls over, the extra mass from all the sensors, batteries, and computing equipment causes the bike to crash extremely hard to the ground, thereby crushing the bike computer into several small pieces.
Yes, I realize that is ironic. Shut up.
What cyclist has not been subjected to the pain and humiliation of falling over when biking, only to find yourself pinned down by your bike, with your shoes still trapped in the pedals?
Don't worry. My new Instant-Release Pedals are here to save the day.
As you pedal normally, tiny gyroscopes in the pedal bodies spin. If, for some reason, you fall, the change of direction in the gyroscopes triggers a small explosion, blowing the locking mechanism completely off the pedal.
Note: You may want to wear shin guards and shop glasses, to avoid incidental shrapnel.
Also note: Once you have started using Instant-Release Pedals (patent pending), never ever ever lay your bike down on the ground just because you're not riding. Keep your bike upright at all times. From now on. No matter what. Seriously.
Bike anti-lock brakes system
Cars have anti-lock brakes, but the truth is bikes need them much more than cars ever will. Anyone who's ever panic-grabbed a handful of front brake knows exactly what I'm talking about here.
By now, of course, you've probably noticed that some of my other inventions have a few minor problems, and you're wondering what the catch is with my Bike Anti-Lock Brake System (BALBS) is.
Well, there is no catch. BALBS works perfectly. So there.
Note: Please be certain to only use BALBS in conjunction with the purpose-built reinforced Titanium bike frame, since conventional aluminium, carbon, and steel frames will buckle under the heat and weight forces exerted by BALBS. Also, since BALBS weighs 432 pounds, it is not recommended for cyclists with a heart condition.
Imagine this situation: you're biking. Just riding along, and then - wham! - you crash into a wall.
Frankly, I think you're a fool for crashing into a wall, but that's neither here nor there. You've got more immediate concerns than whether I think you're a fool.
Specifically, you should be concerned about what's going to happen when your head hits that wall. Will you get a concussion? will your head take on a new shape? Will the owner of the wall be angry at the big mess you've made and demand you clean it up?
Well, with my new Insta-Flate Helmet, your concerns are over. Mere milliseconds before impact, the radar in your helmet (yes, your helmet has a radar, and don't think that's going to be cheap, buster) calculates your speed, your force, and the solidity of the object you're flying to, and then inflates accordingly, saving your bacon.
Note: Since the Insta-Flate helmet weighs 31kg, it requires you wear a neck brace, to keep your head from lolling from side to side as you ride.
I have high confidence that these new inventions will revolutionize the cycling world, improving safety across the board, as well as making me very, very rich.
A word of caution, however: Please try to be careful about wrecking often, however, because the total cost of your cycling safety equipment will be approximately $11,948.
No refunds or exchanges.
Elden "Fatty" Nelson blogs most weekdays as The Fat Cyclist. He has already eaten all of his Halloween candy.