If you’re riding a new electric bike and begin to make a turn or change lanes when it isn’t safe, the bike’s handlebar will buzz a warning in your hand. Like some cars, the bicycle has blind-spot detection, one of a suite of features designed to make it as safe as possible on the road.
“We had a dream of building the world’s most advanced and safest bike,” says Nilesh Bothra, CEO and cofounder of Calamus, the Mumbai- and Berlin-based startup building the bicycle, called the Calamus One, which is currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo, starting at $1,997 . “We saw a lot of great bikes out there, but we couldn’t find a bike that had the right features with the right overarching vision.”
On the road, the bike uses LIDAR-based sensors to detect cars, and if a car coming from behind suddenly becomes a danger, you’ll get a warning as one handlebar vibrates, feeling like a phone vibrating in your hand. “It’s not too much to distract the user or make the user uncomfortable,” says Bothra. A built-in navigation screen in the center of handlebars gives directions while helping riders avoid looking at their phones.
The bike also has built-in lights, including lights at the ends of the handlebars that make the rider more visible in traffic. “These lights are always illuminated so anyone behind you or in front of you knows that the bike is on the road,” he says. The handlebars also light up with turn signals, while in the back, brake lights shine when you come to a stop.
To combat theft, the designers added a smart lock that unlocks with a fingerprint scan, GPS tracking, an alarm system that sends an alert through an app if someone tries to steal the bike while it’s parked, and custom fasteners that make it harder to remove wheels or other parts of the bike. The bike also has other features designed to make it easier to ride and maintain, including a battery with a 50-60 mile range. But safety was at the core of the design.
In the U.S., hundreds of people are killed while biking each year, while thousands more are injured. The bike itself is not really the problem, of course—in the Netherlands and other countries with better bike infrastructure, the rate of fatalities is far smaller despite none of this technology. But as cities in the U.S. and elsewhere are slow to roll out new protected bike lanes and make other changes on roads, a smarter bike could help on typical streets. In 2016, the year in which the most recent data is available, more than 700 people globally were killed while cycling. “It’s a worry, considering it’s a great, sustainable mode of transport,” says Bothra. “It’s a perfect solution compared to cars and normal motorcycles. So we just wanted to do our best to reduce this number.”