How do you improve the bike light? We’ve seen a few new ideas recently: lights embedded in wheels or installed in helmets, lights that project an image on the road or even lights that let you see what the road surface is like.
Franz Struwig’s Backtracker is another new take. His light idea is based around a radar. The back light alerts motorists to the cyclist’s presence, flashing more frequently as cars get closer. Then a handlebar-mounted display gives a read-out to riders. Its red bars illuminate as cars come nearby.
Struwig, who is from Stellenbosch, South Africa, is raising money to fund the lights on Dragon Innovation, a Kickstarter-like site specializing in hardware. See the campaign video here:
Struwig says the handlebar display isn’t really a danger signal. It’s more about giving riders extra intelligence. The back scanner, which detects cars that are 400 feet away, forces drivers to appreciate their proximity to the back wheel.
He claims the Backtracker unit is even useful in heavy traffic, when cars are always close. “From testing, we’ve found that Backtracker is very useful when crossing lanes,” says the website. “It helps you to know when there are gaps in the traffic so that you don’t constantly have to look over your shoulder to try and identify the most opportune moment to change lanes.”