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Kickstarting a bicycle safety revolution: Kent Frankovich at TEDxSacramento TEDxCity2.0

Kickstarting a bicycle safety revolution: Kent Frankovich at TEDxSacramento TEDxCity2.0

Translator: Bob Prottas
Reviewer: Ariana Bleau Lugo Show of hands. How many people in the audience
ride a bike weekly? Weekly, at least once a week. OK, now how many people
in the audience own a bicycle? (Laughter) OK, you’ve got it.
I don’t need to give a talk. Thanks. (Laughter) So this is a unique situation
that we have in America. About a third of us own a bicycle, yet only about 1%
of all trips made in America are by bike. So, we all know
the benefits of riding a bike. I’m going to speak to them briefly,
they probably deserve their own talk. But just from the health perspective, lowers your risk
of cardiovascular disease, lowers the number of sick days
you’ll take at work. From a space efficiency stand point
which is City 2.0 important. This is 60 people
in cars, on bikes, and on a bus. To give you an idea of volume. Next time you’re in traffic,
count how may cars you see. That’s how many people are around you.
It’s actually shockingly small. From an energy efficiency standpoint, it takes 50 to 80 times more energy
to travel the same distance in a car as it does on a bike. From a sustainability standpoint
there’s obviously no gas tank and the only CO2 emissions
you create are the ones you exhale. And most importantly it’s fun. This might be the purist
expression of joy that you can find. So, if these were the only reasons,
we’d all be riding our bikes. Well, we’re not. And why? There’s a number of surveys
who try to figure it out. Here’s one that shows
some of the most common responses. Car traffic, weather,
lack of bike lanes, darkness. Now what do all these things
have in common? Concern for personal safety. And it’s funny because — and I’m not here to fear monger, bicycling is actually quite safe. It’s only second to flying
in a commercial airline, which you might be surprised
is the most safe. And obviously you don’t want to ride a motorcycle or scuba dive
wherever you need to go. That being said,
compared to the rest of the world, it’s not so safe in the US to ride a bike. You’re 5 times more likely to have a fatal accident in the US
than the Netherlands, for example. And, while we make up 1% of all trips, we contribute 2% of all fatalities. So, how can we fix this? Well, the number one thing
we can do is infrastructure. And that’s something
that the government can do. Europe has done a great job of this. We’re actually just starting
to really make a move one it and it’s pretty exciting. Citybike, which I’m sure
you guys have heard of, was a big bike share program in New York. They also have them in Chicago now. And San Francisco just got them,
to name a few. As well as a lot
of infrastructure investments. LA is actually one
that was more publicized. So what’s the problem with it? Well, it’s a great solution. It just takes time to do. In fact, Europe has been doing it
since the 70’s. So it’s been taking a number of decades
to get where they’re at. How can we speed it along? And this is where I think
we can really make a good contribution. And that is the industry side. So, let’s create a demand
for them to create more infrastructure. Let’s get over that hump of fear that stops us from riding our bikes. And this is something that I personally
had some experience in. It’s really why I’m here. About two years ago I was riding my bike home
from work at night. Going through a very dark stretch of road with my dinky little headlight and maybe you’ve experienced this, last minute,
don’t even see this pothole coming, nearly knocks me off the front of my bike. And it jumpstarted me into thinking, “Man, I need a better headlight”. (Laughter) But more importantly, I didn’t want to go
and just buy a brighter headlight, which is the standard operation. I felt like a handlebar mounted headlight
was inherently misguided. Why is the light so high up
if what I’m trying to light up is out in front of my wheel? So, I did some research. How did we get to this point? Well, here’s a modern headlight. Point source of light. Focus is forward. Looks remarkable like this, which is probably
one of the first headlights. This was —
(Laughter) If you were around in the late 1800’s you used a carbide lamp like this, which was pretty much
cutting edge technology. Stay with me here. There’s a canister at the bottom. It holds little stones of calcium carbide. The little thing up on top
is the a bulb that holds water. The thumbscrew allows small drips
to drip down on the calcium carbide. Chemical reaction
starts making acetylene gas. That heads up into the lens assembly where it’s burned
and it’s white and it’s bright and it’s wind resistant
and it’s rain resistant. Why would you not want this? Well, maybe if you don’t want a chamber creating high pressure acetylene gas (Laughter) right by your face
(Laughter) might be a reason. Understandably, incandescence
came along and so did LEDs. We have all these great improvements,
but we’re still going to stick with a small light on our handlebars
or on our headtube. Now, contrast that with cars. What have they done
in that same amount of time? So here’s Cadillac CTS 2014. What’s interesting to see is just the design effort that went into this. It’s a wrap around headlight.
You can be seen from the side. It has integrated signaling. It has daytime running lights. You can see where you’re going,
obviously. And from this perspective
bike lights seem kind of silly. I mean you don’t park your car and take your headlights off, put them in your back pack,
you don’t want them to get stolen. And you have to go buy headlights
after you buy your car. I forgot to charge my batteries. Looks like I’m driving home
in the dark tonight. (Laughter) This is a great comic by Bikeyface. I recommend it. Motivation, so now I said OK, I’m going to make
an improvement here. I’m going to make a better headlight. But I’m going to do it by moving
the light where it’s needed. Make it more efficient. And I saw that as the wheel. Now obviously
putting a headlight on the wheel is pretty tricky because it’s spinning. How do you focus light? Well, I had an idea.
What if you could time — What if you distributed lights
all the way around the wheel and timed it to face — to turn the lights on only when they were needed facing forward? I like building stuff,
so I said I’ll try it. So here it is in all its glory. This is the first wheel-mounted headlight. What does that look like
when it’s operating? That’s probably better? You can see the projection of the light. It’s pretty exciting. So I’m riding around on this prototype
and I’m loving it. And suddenly I notice something else and this really where
the importance comes. This arc of light made me hugely visible. Visibility is a bit deal
if you’ve ever ridden your bike at night. Based on this, I did some more research because I wanted to know
how big of a deal is visibility? Well, this is a standard bicycle
headlight and taillight setup projecting light forward so you can see, rear light facing backwards
so you can be seen. Well, the NHTSA does surveys
on bicycle injuries and finds that the way that they happen about 70% can be attributed to
a lack in side visibility. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem like
such a smart idea not to be very visible. On top of that, a majority of bicycle fatalities happen between 4 pm and 4 am. Which is nighttime. Couple that now with the survey
that says that 1 in 5 people said that they don’t ride
because of darkness and suddenly you have something
that really needs to be innovated on, the bike light. So, with this newfound personal discovery I said I’m going to make
a red taillight as well to match. And this is what you get. (Applause) I think that this is a better approach. But more so, I hope that this inspires more design thinking
when it comes to safety products. So, I turned this now
from just a little project I had it’s now a product. About ten months ago
we started selling it. It’s called Revolights and we’ve been selling now to the world. So, I think the lights
are going to come down another level. I can show you in the true darkness. There you go. (Applause) All right. Now get on your bikes and ride. Hope to see you guys out there. Thank you. (Applause)

15 thoughts on “Kickstarting a bicycle safety revolution: Kent Frankovich at TEDxSacramento TEDxCity2.0

  1. shameless self promotion… any 18650 containg bike light ..

    ones with 2 or 4 batteries are brightest

  2. i hang a long cylindrical light-i guess they are used for camping at the end of my handlebar left side from a cord. its visible from 4 sides, always moving as it swings, it eliminates the need for a rear light, and it lines up on your outside not centered which keeps cars farther away when passing. does not light up road though. i'v designed it to be removable to prevent theft.

  3. Bike safety starts with protected bike lanes. The safety problem for bicycles is the threat of being hit by a fast moving metal and plastic, cars and trucks.

  4. If you follow traffic laws while riding a bicycle in my state, you will get run over and they will not stop. I will stick to sidewalks and side streets, always.

  5. Doesent help a great deal when it's raining, which stops a lot of people cycling. Perhaps one day when cars are obsolete we'll have covered lanes!

  6. The light to close in front of you makes that you see things to late.
    Also a lamp on the handlebars works good as you set them the right way and not point them straight forwards what most people do.

    Not really impressed with his light. A light that low is also not always see in traffic. Car lights you see because they are a lot brighter.
    A jacket with reflection and light on it is a lot more visible.

  7. Read your motorcycle endorsement book and you’ll be set to defensively Operate your bicycle. Might take s STARS course too….
    Or, we could just stop accepting Californians and start reducing the population

  8. He's wrong about CO2 emissions. They are zero on a bike. The CO2 we exhale comes from the environment and is converted back into oxygen by plants. We add no NEW CO2 to the environment. The CO2 produced by cars and other consumers of fossil fuels brings carbon into the environment that was locked deep in the earth by plants that died millions of years ago. Get it? Newly introduced carbon vs. carbon that's part of the existing system.

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