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Friday, February 20, 2015

Finally, an App That Will Help Prevent Bike Collisions

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 9:22 AM

click to enlarge spokesman.jpg

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication, sometimes shortened to V2V, isn’t a brand new concept, but Bike Shield is the first application of the technology that makes sense. While the auto industry has been waiting for the Germans to figure out how to make cars talk to toll booths, the small Bike Shield team went ahead and made it easy for anybody with a smartphone to get in on the futuristic world of V2V, the most cutting-edge technology to avoid crashes. 

I talked to the CEO of Bike Shield Pere Margalef, who gave me some insight into how the app would gain the user base necessary to make any difference in cycling. Let me back up a second – vehicle to vehicle communication in this case is mostly useful for preventative safety. Fire up your Bike Shield and it will not only tell you who else has the app running nearby, but it will alert drivers when you are approaching or passing. This can help prevent accidents by alerting a driver of a bike or motorcycle in their blindspot, or other hard to see spots. Take a look at the video:

BikeShield Indiegogo Campaign from TDG Company on Vimeo.

Like bike share systems, it will only really work if everyone is using it. So how is bike shield going to do that?

“That’s the big question,” said Pere Margalef. “If it’s not widespread, how is it going to work?”

The answer, in an acronym, is API.

The LA-based Bike Shield team has been developing an API, which is an application programming interface used to port in functions from other apps. Like how Yelp uses Maps. At this point, the team is working with other bike and driving apps so they too will use on this API.  Per the Bike Shield team:

When using this app, car drivers get an acoustic signal that warns them about approaching motorcycles and bicycles. These signals raise drivers’ awareness and reduce distracted maneuvers that may result in a fatal crash with motorcycles and bicycles.

The first major roll out will happen in a new bike share program in Guadalajara, Mexico next week. Bike Shield is also in talks with the Barcelona, Spain bike share program, and Social Bicycles, a company that manages eight bike share programs in the US, including the Bay Area Bike Share. Margalef says that all these bike share systems use apps, and when they use the Bike Shield API, users will hypothetically get the same protection as users of the Bike Shield app.

Here's another video:

That doesn’t answer the question of how to get the app into the smartphones of drivers. Margalef said that hopefully the use of Bike Shield by bike share systems will raise awareness, and convince some drivers to use it. He also said, “We want to get into Google Maps and Waze.” That integration might be farther down the road. He also mentioned a meeting at a certain automaker’s Mountain View R&D facility to test the app on Android Auto – Margalef wants the app to ship with in-car infotainment systems in the future, but it could be a long way off.

In perhaps one of the most exciting though smallest applications, the Bike Shield app will find its way into the buses of public transportation systems that partner with the app. Buses are a challenge for cyclists, because they’ve got to pull through the bike lane to pick up passengers, and they’re so big that it’s easy for a cyclist to get lost in the buses big blindspot. 

Bike Shield has no plans to charge user for this safety service.“We will offer a package to cities, for the bike share system, and for buses," he says. "Local authorities cannot control the road user, but they have access to the bike share user and the public transportation.

"We also give them data, like Strava is doing, but we think we’ll have more relevant data, since we’ll have commuters who ride their bike every day. “

Until they’ve got enough data to tempt municipalities Bike Shield is looking for investors and raising money on Indiegogo. The campaign offers some pretty trick rewards, including bikes from Linus, Martone, and eZip, cycling jerseys, and more. As of Friday morning, the team had raised just under $2,000 of the $25,000 needed. 

If Bike Shield manages to get a whole lot more users, it could change the way people use the road. So if you're ready for the future, you can download the app for iOS and for Android or visit the Bike Shield Indiegogo.
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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.

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