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NEW BIKE SAFETY PRODUCT MAY REDUCE FATAL REAR END COLLISIONS

From the most avid biking enthusiasts who can't go more than a single day without getting behind the handlebars to the casual riders who enjoy riding once a week, biking in the Bay Area has taken on greater popularity over the last several years. With increased bicycle traffic has cone a major increase ibn bicycle vs. automobile conflicts.

There are now certain pieces of bike safety equipment that are ubiquitous: helmets, reflectors, gloves, lights, mirrors and even electronic turn signals. Now a tech company based in South Africa is working on launching a new product that could quickly become another must-have piece of safety equipment.

The product is called the Backtracker and it's designed to help prevent rear-impact collisions, a type of bike accident that a recently published report identified as being responsible for 40 percent of all biking fatalities.

The Backtracker consists of a small rear-mounted sensor that uses radar technology to detect the presence of cars behind a bicyclist, and communicate both its presence and speed to the biker on a unit mounted on the handlebars.

Specifically, when the rear unit, which has a 153-yard range, detects an approaching automobile, a slow white light flashes on the handlebar unit. However, when the automobile approaching from the rear is moving especially fast, a frantic red light flashes on the handlebar unit.

The rear unit also sends out a corresponding red flashing light to warn the automobile that they are approaching the bicycle too fast.

While the team behind Backtracker is looking to secure more money via crowdfunding, they anticipate the product hitting the U.S. market sometime this December at a price of roughly $199.

While this device will help prevent injuries and even save lives, it's nevertheless important for both cyclists and auto drivers to respect and accommodate each other on the roads. Walkup partners Matthew Davis and Conor Kelly are involved in projects with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Silicon Valley bicycle coalition aimed at reducing bicycle related injuries and fatalities.

Sources: Outside Magazine, "Giving cyclists eyes in the backs of their heads," Hannah Weinberger, July 1, 2014; Tech Crunch, "Backtracker helps bikers keep from being rear-ended," John Biggs, July 1, 2014

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