Safe Turn: the fully-automatic indicator for cyclists
January 22, 2008 Environmental and health factors have been a catalyst for increased numbers of cyclists in metropolitan cities with bike sales exceeding that of cars in places like Australia in recent times. With more recreational and commuter cyclists sharing the roads with automobiles it follows that rider safety - and technology that enhances it - is more important than ever. The Safe Turn Indicator is a small, portable, automatic bicycle light indicator for your glove or wrist that alerts drivers and other cyclist that you are about to turn.
The compact (40 mm/1.6 in) and lightweight (19g/0.67oz) Safe Turn consists of three LEDs that flash in a similar fashion to a vehicle/motorbike indicator and emit the same orange light. Using an internal tilt switch to detect the change in angle rather than motion-detection, the product differentiates itself from other indicators on the market by virtue of its ability to automatically switch on when an arm is raised to execute a normal hand signal for turning and remain flashing until the arm drops back down.
The convenience of automatic functioning is undeniable but the obvious pitfall is the possibility of the device turning on when you scratch your nose or reach for your drink bottle. To circumvent this problem the inventors have built-in several functions to the Safe Turn's custom chip to avoid unwanted blinking. These include an electronic 'Delayed Start' feature that only allows the device to start blinking when it is in position for more than 200 milliseconds, therefore minimizing the likelihood of blinking due to vibration caused by bumps in the road or momentary changes in hand position.
There's also a mechanical user-adjustment consisting of a self-locking mechanism inside the base of the device that can be changed at 15 degree intervals to accommodate individual riding styles and handlebar types. A "Delayed Off" feature means it doesn't not automatically switch off when you are in the middle of turning and drop your arm. Instead, it will keep blinking for 1 second to allow all cars to see it. Users can also manually switch the indicator off by pressing the orange top so that it wont blink in any position.
Designed to be visible from a wide range of angles, the LEDs have in-built water-clear lenses to direct the light beams which can be seen from up to 800 metres distance or more. A light-dispersing grid is incorporated into the top cover which also has a high profile so that it is still visible when viewed side-on. The LEDs have a very long life (100,000 hours of continuous lighting) which effectively means that they should never burn out and the two A76 batteries that power the device should provide about 2 years for that average day commuter according to Safe Turn.
To cope with the elements Safe Turn is water-resistant - though not water-proof - with rubber seals protecting the unit from spray but not complete submersion or constant heavy rain.
The Indicator can be used on either hand and attached to the wristband provided with the device or on to a bicycle glove. Retailing for AUD$19.95 (around USD$17 at time of publication), the Safe Turn Indicator is available in Australia, Japan and online. The Melbourne-based (a city of around three-million people that saw 268 serious and seven fatal bicycle accidents - 57% of which were caused by collision with a vehicle - in 2005 alone) creators have a patent pending and are currently looking for an overseas distributor to take the product worldwide.