A lot of words are dedicated to how cycling can be made safer by expanding bike lanes and making drivers slow down, but cyclists can also make themselves safer using a couple of cool and only slightly absurd accoutrements while they ride.
The first is a specialized helmet called the MindRider, which acts as a sort of LED-lit mood ring for your dome by flashing different colored lights depending on your mood. Created by a Brooklyn resident and graduate of MIT's Media Lab, the helmet uses electrodes to broadcast a cyclist's level of panic to those around them—the lights flash green if the wearer is enjoying a stress-free cruise through the country or maybe Ditmas Park, yellow while feeling slight agitation, red while stressed, and blinking red when panicked. You're probably more likely to see a unicorn capering down 5th Avenue than you are to see a zen cyclist flashing the green lights.
The helmets are also GPS-enabled, meaning that cyclists can contribute to a heat map that paints a multi-colored picture of the level of terror felt at various points around the city. "These maps can reveal previously unobserved relationships between the cyclist and the environment, and they have all kinds of applications for personal fitness, urban planning, safety analysis, and more," the MindRider website says.
So now that drivers know you're pissed when your helmet is blinking crimson and pouring smoke, what can cyclists do to win themselves more room on the road? Road whiskers, developed by a group of students from Cal State Long Beach, stretch from a bike's handlebars, giving the appearance that they take up more space than they actually do.
"With the push of a button on the handlebars, the four long whiskers on the Vibrasee can flick fully outward, discouraging a car from squeezing by. Reflective stripes make each whisker stand out even more, and when a cyclist wants to turn, they can flick the whiskers on one side in the right direction and flash lights inside as a signal," Fast Company wrote of the whiskers. The gadget drew inspiration from such formidable creatures as the mouse and the octopus, which transforms its shape to "warn predators or whatever's nearby."
A road test proved the whiskers actually worked, but unfortunately, its creators lack the funds to turn the prototype into a full-fledged product any time soon.
[h/t/ City Room]