Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Raspberry Pi Headlight Projects Useful Data on the Ground

Cycling is my favorite way to get around, and in past years technology has created all kinds of devices that can help make it more convenient. There are countless smartphone apps that help people plan their route or keep track of various things when they ride. But safety is important, and anything that takes your eyes off the road can be a problem. That's why this do-it-yourself project by Matt Richardson is so cool: He used an inexpensive Raspberry Pi credit-card-sized single-board computer to create a very special kind of bike headlight that can dynamically project information on the road in front of you while still illuminating your way and making you more visible to other road users.

His prototype shows speed, but it could show almost anything that a rider might find useful: Maps, or turn-by-turn directions from a GPS program on a smartphone, or weather info, time to destination, distance traveled, proximity warnings if a car is getting too close, etc.
Check out Richardson's video for all the details:
If you want more on how and why this was built, here is the sneak peek video mentioned in the other video, it gives more details:
Granted, the concept of the dynamic headlight is not without faults and it would have to be done right to avoid being one more distraction. But if only minimalist data is projected in a sane way, I think it could be useful to some cyclists.

Monday, March 18, 2013

B-Cycle Has Spread to 15 US Cities

Members of the B-Cycle bike-sharing program with an annual membership will now be able to rent bikes in 15 U.S. cities thanks to the 'B-connected' initiative. This is an expansion of a pilot program that started last Spring between Denver and Boulder in Colorado. Apparently it was successful because the participating cities now are:
  • Denver, CO
  • Boulder, CO
  • Madison, WI
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • Spartanburg, SC
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Omaha, NE
  • Nashville, TN
  • Kailua, HI
  • Broward County, FL.
  • Fort Worth, TX (launching Spring)
  • Salt Lake City, UT (launching Spring)
The process for annual members to connect to visiting cities is simple:
  1. Bring your B-card and credit card that is linked to your annual membership to another city that is part of the B-connected group.
  2. On your first visit to a station in that city, visit the kiosk and select “No” on the screen which asks if you would like to purchase 24-hour Access. Swipe your credit card associated with your account. Accept the user agreement for that city’s system.
  3. Voila! – You are ready to ride a B-cycle in that city!
  4. All subsequent checkouts in that city can be done using your B-card at the dock, just as you do in your home city.
  5. This process will need to be done the first time you visit a new B-connected city.
Here's a video that shows B-Cycle in action:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just Bike!

I love cool videos that are not only well done, but also help normalize cycling. Almost everybody has, at one time or another, been on a bicycle. It’s not about who rides what bike, how fast they ride it, or what they wear while riding. It’s about human powered transportation and the freedom and fun that comes from it. Ride on!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Scooter-Bike to Debut for French Bike Share

Commuters in a bike sharing scheme debuting in Bordeaux, France are going to get to try a spanking new hybrid between a bike and a scooter. French designer Philippe Starck and automaker Peugeot teamed up to create the Pibal (French for "baby eel"), a retro-stylish, aluminum-framed vehicle that allows users to ride it like a bike when the going's easy, or to propel it by foot like a scooter when traffic's heavy.

Bordeaux's residents were asked to submit ideas for a new kind of bike, in an effort to increase bicycle use in local public transportation. Starck and Peugeot synthesized these elements together to create the crowd-sourced Pibal, which features yellow colouring for increased visibility, and ample storage in its front and rear racks. Starck explains on Dezeen that:
Just like the pibale, undulating and playing with the flow, Pibal is an answer to new urban ergonomics, thanks to a lateral translation which allows oneself to pedal long distances, to scoot in pedestrian areas and to walk next to it, carrying a child or any load on its platform. It only has the beauty of its intelligence, of its honesty, of its durabiliity. Rustic and reliable, it's a new friend dedicated to the future Bordeaux expectations.

If It's Hip It's Here comments that
The [Pibal] is basically a scooter and a bike compacted into one though the Bordelais (citizens of Bordeaux) are happy to have their very own custom-created public bike and no longer need to feel snubbed by metropolises like Paris and Copenhagen who got their own custom-created public bicycles a while ago.

The Pibal does look a bit heavy, and its lack of a top bar probably means the frame will flex a bit more, residents will get to test out the prototype's durability and versatility when the program launches with 300 Pibals in its fleet -- all free to use -- in June of this year.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Washington State Rep. Ed Orcutt Says Bike Riders Pollute The Environment

Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt (R–Kalama), a ranking member of the State Transportation Committee, argues that bicycling is bad for the environment and says bike riders should have to pay a tax to help maintain the state's roads. Orcutt made his comments in an email, which was posted by the Cascade bicycle club blog on Saturday. In the message, Orcutt states bike riders pollute the environment because they produce more carbon dioxide than car drivers.

The email from the lawmaker, which was written to bike shop owner Dale Carson, goes on to say that because bike riders have an "increased heart rate and respiration," the act of riding a bike "results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider."

Ed Orcutt Bike Riders"Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride," Orcutt wrote in the message, which Carson provided to The Huffington Post on Monday. Carson had originally written Orcutt an email arguing against a proposed 5 percent bicycle tax on bikes that cost more than $500. He said biking is good for the environment as part of his argument for why bicycle riders save taxpayers money.

In his email response, Orcutt said a bike tax makes sense because currently drivers are the ones paying for roads and for the bike lanes on them. Cyclists, on the other hand, don't pay for roads because they don't pay a gas tax "or any transportation tax," the email states.

In Seattle the combined local and state sales tax rate is already 9.5 percent, meaning that if the bicycle tax is implemented, people buying a bike that costs over $500 would pay a 14.5 percent tax there. For a $600 bike, that would be an extra $87.00. Washington's bike tax was part of a 10-year, $10 billion transportation package that was introduced in February by state House Democrats -- legislation that would also impose a tax on purchases of cars, trucks and gasoline. The bicycle tax is expected to raise $1 million throughout a 10-year period.