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Indicators for cyclists

Old 06-18-15, 09:58 PM
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Indicators for cyclists

Hi there,
I'm Gabi and I am currently prototyping a bike indicator for cyclists, however the question that I cannot get out of my mind is: why aren't cyclists wearing bike indicators already?? Surely it is an obvious idea, as cars and motorbikes need to have indicators, so why not bikes? Any thoughts??
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Old 06-18-15, 11:19 PM
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What is a bike indicator and where would I wear it?
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Old 06-18-15, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadTire View Post
What is a bike indicator and where would I wear it?
It indicates that you are on a bike.

No, it's for turn signals. It's only been invented 10,000 times.
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Old 06-19-15, 12:09 AM
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Here is a recent thread about turn signal gloves.
https://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-s...al-gloves.html

I think there are a few reasons why such signals haven't become popular. Perhaps we are just now getting the manufacturing technology to make it all happen.

But, it is hard enough to convince cyclists to both use lights and hand signals on their bikes. Anything on a bike must be either battery or generator powered.

During the daylight, hand signals are generally effective.
At night, turn signal lights would be nice.

HOWEVER, say a bike is 1 foot wide. Then a single blinking light becomes a point source, and would be difficult for a car to differentiate right from left. In fact, a left blinker on the right side of the road could be very confusing. One would need to have a central steady tailight, and a right/left blinker adequately spaced from the central steady light.

Here in the USA, blinking tail lights have also become popular due to power conservation, and unique visibility. And the general indication of "CAUTION".

For turn signals to be effective, especially at night, then bikes would have to stop using blinking tail lights, and have enough lighting to make the signals and direction distinctive. That may, in fact, be more of a danger than the improvement offered by turn signals.

The arrow on glove lights may help resolve some of these issues. I do think, however, that the arrow is pointing in the wrong direction on those gloves
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Old 06-19-15, 04:30 AM
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Go make a few prototypes and you'll quickly discover why they're not commonly used.
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Old 06-19-15, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
Go make a few prototypes and you'll quickly discover why they're not commonly used.
I've had a prototype going for about 4 years now. I agree with the original poster, I'm not sure why they aren't more common given they are more or less a mandatory requirement on almost all motorcycles (vintage ones are exempt).

Motorcycles have the same problem that bicycles have, they are narrow, so the positioning has to be thought out. I found mounting the front indicators off the rear view mirrors works well, and I have a top box with the indicators built-in. Prior to the top box, I had the indicators mounted on the sides of a rear basket.

The circuit is a simple NE555 timer chip driving an IRF540N MOSFET and some diode-OR logic, built using dead bug construction. The indicators themselves are standard motorcycle LED indicators on the front, and on the rear I gutted some incandescent lamp holders and mounted LEDs with series resistors in the sockets.
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Old 06-19-15, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Redhatter View Post
I've had a prototype going for about 4 years now. I agree with the original poster, I'm not sure why they aren't more common given they are more or less a mandatory requirement on almost all motorcycles (vintage ones are exempt).

Motorcycles have the same problem that bicycles have, they are narrow, so the positioning has to be thought out. I found mounting the front indicators off the rear view mirrors works well, and I have a top box with the indicators built-in. Prior to the top box, I had the indicators mounted on the sides of a rear basket.

The circuit is a simple NE555 timer chip driving an IRF540N MOSFET and some diode-OR logic, built using dead bug construction. The indicators themselves are standard motorcycle LED indicators on the front, and on the rear I gutted some incandescent lamp holders and mounted LEDs with series resistors in the sockets.
I've seen your bike sir, and although I'm in awe of the ingenuity of the onboard electronics, you have to admit most people wouldn't be caught dead on it.
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Old 06-19-15, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Redhatter View Post
I've had a prototype going for about 4 years now. I agree with the original poster, I'm not sure why they aren't more common given they are more or less a mandatory requirement on almost all motorcycles (vintage ones are exempt).
Have you ever wondered the same thing about liability insurance?
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Old 06-19-15, 10:02 AM
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There have been hundreds of attempts to mount indicators on bikes.

Here's my opinions, take or leave.

The truth is that you have to consider closing speed of a car approaching a bicycle. Motorcycles can get away with indicators mounted 6 inches apart because the car is approaching them very slowly, and so they have time to notice that the flashing light is slightly to one side of center.

A car coming up behind a bicycle may be approaching at 40 MPH relative to the bike. Unless the lights are a meter apart, it's unlikely the car driver will think anything of it - after all, bicycles often have blinking lights on the back, a blinking light 3 inches left of center will just look like a blinkie, they won't think "he's turning".

Nobody wants to ride with a meter wide stick on the bike with lights on the end.

Also, a lot of the people designing these are Portland hipsters who ride single speeds at 12 MPH around cities with 20 MPH traffic and think that a few 20mw LEDs on a backpack driven by an Arduino will work. They will not. The lights need to be of a similar brightness to car taillights or they will simply not get noticed. They need to be clearly visible from a car with full bright sunlight hitting either the LEDs or the windscreen of the car. This means you can't just glue an LED onto a stick - you need proper bright LED drivers, which means metal heat sinking and proper constant current drivers, and optics to point the light where it needs to be - at eye level. Anything else is wasted.

Also you'll want to have auto-off - push left or right, it sequences for maybe 10 or 15 seconds then goes back to the normal taillight operation.

I have thought about this and I think about the best compromise would be a line of LEDs perhaps 30cm wide, and a carefully thought out sequencing of the LEDs to really telegraph "turning" - and to just be a normal blinking bar of LEDs at all other times. I'm thinking sequencing lights from one side to the other - start with one light on the end, light up in seqence until they're all lit, then extinguish them in the same order ie:

For turning right:

*............
**..........
***........
(etc)
********
.*******
..******
(etc)
..........*

If this were to be done RIGHT, it would be a heck of an industrial design - it would involve microcontrollers, electronics, optics, DFM, waterproofing, ergonomics in the controls, effectiveness studies and multiple iterations of design after testing for effectiveness and adjusting lighting sequences, optics design, light placement and the like.

I'd LOVE to buy one of these, if it was done right. I've never seen anyone come even vaguely close to doing it right. There are a bunch of projects for this up on Instructables, and they're honestly all a joke.
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Old 06-19-15, 10:05 AM
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Also, you will have to do careful control studies to find out if the lights are actually doing any good. I don't even know how you'd do this. The only way I can think of is to chase down cars that were behind you when you were indicating and ask them if they knew what the funny lights meant. You can't just put LEDs on the back of your bike, use them for a few days and say "Well, I didn't get killed so clearly they work."
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Old 06-19-15, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
[...]
I have thought about this and I think about the best compromise would be a line of LEDs perhaps 30cm wide, and a carefully thought out sequencing of the LEDs to really telegraph "turning" - and to just be a normal blinking bar of LEDs at all other times. I'm thinking sequencing lights from one side to the other - start with one light on the end, light up in seqence until they're all lit, then extinguish them in the same order ie:

For turning right:

*............
**..........
***........
(etc)
********
.*******
..******
(etc)
..........*

[...]
I think this is a neat idea and I think I know what you mean. Emergency vehicles where I live have a bar of amber lights that work in a similar sequence to indicate you're supposed to pass on the side where the lights point...

Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
Also, you will have to do careful control studies to find out if the lights are actually doing any good. I don't even know how you'd do this. The only way I can think of is to chase down cars that were behind you when you were indicating and ask them if they knew what the funny lights meant. You can't just put LEDs on the back of your bike, use them for a few days and say "Well, I didn't get killed so clearly they work."
Which brings me to this: the aforementioned emergency lights indicate you're supposed to pass on that side, not that the operator is intending to turn that direction. And there is the problem of using a similar system on a bike, is the bicycle operator indicating they want you to pass, or ...what exactly? It would be great if everyone got together and agreed that this sequence of lights is intended as a turn signal on a bike (and quite frankly I just think it would be neat to own and use one!), but as of now it would probably be more confusing than anything.
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Old 06-19-15, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
And there is the problem of using a similar system on a bike, is the bicycle operator indicating they want you to pass, or ...what exactly?
Back to the old question of yelling "On your Left" vs the often interpreted "Move Left to avoid a collision".

I've see sequence lights on a car, and they work well, although an arrow might help augment it.

I still think one could add the lights to the arm/hand. It would be cool if the lights would activate when one outstretched the arm for a turn signal, then deactivate once one brings the hand back to the bars but not blink when one reaches for a water bottle.

A simple thing would be to make sure that one's cycling coat has a good reflector strip along the length of the sleeve (front and back?) so when one outstretches the arm, it is actually visible at night.
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Old 06-19-15, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Have you ever wondered the same thing about liability insurance?
Not sure what you mean by liability insurance. I have third party property through Bicycle Queensland, is that what you're referring to?

Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
I've seen your bike sir, and although I'm in awe of the ingenuity of the onboard electronics, you have to admit most people wouldn't be caught dead on it.
Probably a good thing, means my bike is safer from theft.

Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
There have been hundreds of attempts to mount indicators on bikes.
Also, a lot of the people designing these are Portland hipsters who ride single speeds at 12 MPH around cities with 20 MPH traffic and think that a few 20mw LEDs on a backpack driven by an Arduino will work. They will not. The lights need to be of a similar brightness to car taillights or they will simply not get noticed. They need to be clearly visible from a car with full bright sunlight hitting either the LEDs or the windscreen of the car. This means you can't just glue an LED onto a stick - you need proper bright LED drivers, which means metal heat sinking and proper constant current drivers, and optics to point the light where it needs to be - at eye level. Anything else is wasted.

Also you'll want to have auto-off - push left or right, it sequences for maybe 10 or 15 seconds then goes back to the normal taillight operation.
I have two switches for the indicators that individually turn on the left or right indicators, they are separate from the tail light.

I agree the LEDs need to have substantial brightness. A bare LED is not going to cut it, it'll at the very least need a diffusing lens so it's not a single point of light. Hence why I bought off-the-shelf motorcycle indicators and in one case, replaced the incandescent bulbs with LEDs. The front indicators are 1W modules. On the rear, they're pairs of smaller LEDs (that's what would fit in the housing) but still substantial brightness, mounted about 500mm apart.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
A simple thing would be to make sure that one's cycling coat has a good reflector strip along the length of the sleeve (front and back?) so when one outstretches the arm, it is actually visible at night.
That is a feature they often miss when designing these things, they often have a band of reflective tape around the arm, but not the stripe of tape down its length.
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Old 06-19-15, 02:52 PM
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To put @Gabi in the picture, there are posts of what my bikes look like here (commuter) and here (off-roader/tourer).
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Old 06-19-15, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Gabi View Post
Hi there,
I'm Gabi and I am currently prototyping a bike indicator for cyclists, however the question that I cannot get out of my mind is: why aren't cyclists wearing bike indicators already?? Surely it is an obvious idea, as cars and motorbikes need to have indicators, so why not bikes? Any thoughts??
I have them on my winter commuter bike, they are from a company called Rideout.

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Old 06-19-15, 06:26 PM
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How about a remote operated, auto retracting, aerodynamic carbon thingie, 6 inches long, that telescopes out 2 feet when activated by the cyclist. Lights would have to be on par with car or motorcycle turn lights. Replaceable, rechargeable batteries. Need these both front and back. In the back, when retracted will look like a couple tail lights mounted under the saddle, just wider than a saddlebag. You would of course incorporate a accelerometer so the lights also react automatically as brake lights.
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Old 06-19-15, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadTire View Post
How about an auto retracting, thingie, that telescopes out 2 feet when activated by the cyclist.
I have two of them on my bike. They're called ARMS
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Old 06-19-15, 09:02 PM
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Lights on the riders shoulders? A simple vest with buttons on the front of the shoulders. Touch the left side of your chest, your left shoulder blinks.
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Old 06-20-15, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I have two of them on my bike. They're called ARMS
This is the right answer.

Arms are perfectly acceptable indicating mechanisms for cars, btw. I'm not even actually certain that turn indicators are mandatory on cars, if you use your arm instead. Cars using hand signals is where the left arm bent up for right turn comes from - because the guy behind you can't see if you stick your right arm straight out.
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Old 06-20-15, 10:20 AM
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Without separation distance between the indicators it's pointless. It will just look like a blinking light, which is pretty common.

No one yet has made signals with enough separation without introducing some drawbacks which are not acceptable to enough riders.
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Old 06-24-15, 09:59 PM
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Hello @Redhatter ! Your bike looks great but imagine this is all custom kit that you have created? How many LEDs are you using and what kind of batteries?
I'm trying to make something that will be portable between bikes - i'll post some pictures of the prototypes
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Old 06-24-15, 10:27 PM
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Hi everyone! Thanks for your feedback, very informative.
I see how distance between the indicators would be an issue without a reference point - the rules here in Australia are that you have to have a red tail light on your bike so that can act as a point of reference as well. Also my design allows the cyclist to add multiple lights and set them as back/front and left/right, so you can put them on your shoulders if you wanted to @bonner1040, probably best to show a picture of the prototype:


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8b...JCZ1pqYWc/view


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8b...ew?usp=sharing


I totally accept that arms work perfectly well, however the idea came about as I was constantly hearing friends complaining how unsafe it is to stick an arm out to signal, especially in situations such as riding downhill and trying to brake and indicate at the same time, or when having lots of bags (or their kids) on the bike and finding it hard to keep balance with one arm.

@ShortLegCyclist - thanks for your suggestion - the Firefly indicators only go on your handlebars, that's why i wanted to design a wearable system where you can also add multiple of each light (front/back, left/right)
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Old 06-25-15, 03:04 AM
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Is it possible to drill a hole on either end of the handle bars so the lights are facing outwards? The indicator lights could be wired inside the handlebar along with a small lithium-ion battery. There would be no compromise to the aerodynamics of the bike yet it would be on the outer most width as the most visible option. Im thinking along the same concept as those little side indicators on cars. Bar tape might be an issue with this. Why not on the top of the shifters? Shimano already have buttons on top of their Dura Ace Di2 shifters that are used with Garmin GPS Interfaces, so you could use those to indicate left or right. We should go into partnership. 60-40 lol

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Old 06-25-15, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Gabi View Post
Also my design allows the cyclist to add multiple lights and set them as back/front and left/right, so you can put them on your shoulders if you wanted to @bonner1040, probably best to show a picture of the prototype:
This is something you WEAR?

Instant fail. That's something you have to deal with every time you get on and off the bike. People will use it for 2 days and then throw it in an corner.

To have any lasting value it has to be ON THE BIKE.
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Old 06-25-15, 07:34 AM
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see gizmo things promoted on line that Retail shop owners never order. so sales will be limited .

Where are you going to get these manufactured?

bikes are narrow .. the power of bike dynamos is 6v.. 3w . thats it. other than that you have to use individual batteries.

Blinking lights on gloves has been done..


FWIW I saw a motorcycle it had an 8"x8" taillight (pretty large), made up of a mix of many red and yellow LEDs

there was an arrow shaped formation of yellow LEDs lit when the operator wanted to signal a turn ..

NB: There is a lot more electricity generated by the motor-generator.

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