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I am a product designer and am currently working on a bicycle lighting project and would really appreciate your valuable feedback.

In England, turning left on a bicycle is not really a problem as you would just follow the road, but turning right can be an issue as often you would have to change lanes or cut across traffic. Likewise in other parts of the world where you drive on the right, turning left would be the issue. That is why it is so important to use hand signals, so motorists can see your intentions. But how can motorists see your hand signals in the dark?

I have an idea for a bicycle light which would clip onto the sleeve of your clothing; very much like the way an ipod shuffle would clip onto clothes. It would always be on; therefore acting as a safety light as well. If you wanted to turn right, you could put your arm out and then motorists could see your intentions through the flashing light.

Many people have tried to crack the cycling indication market before, but it involves adding expensive and ugly lights to your bike. What if there was something as easy as the above, that just clips onto your sleeve- no need for bike modifications and probably less than a £10 spend.

This in mind, any answers to the following questions would be great:

Do you find it difficult to indicate in the dark? Do you think an idea like this would improve bicycle safety? Would this be something that you would buy?

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There are similar things out there already. Some pretty cool DIY types can be found at Instructables. –  Ken Hiatt Jan 20 '13 at 22:27
    
Things like this exist: rei.com/product/769617/planet-bike-brt-strap –  Jefromi Jan 21 '13 at 5:23
    
Removing hand from handlebar in the dark is something that people usually DON'T WANT to do, it can be dangerous and it is uncomfortable if you HAVE to do it all the time. –  heltonbiker Jan 21 '13 at 13:38
    
@heltonbiker: really? I could believe a claim like that of absolute beginners, but most cyclists should have no trouble riding one-handed on flat pavement. It's not just signalling: if you can't cycle one-handed you can't change gears on down-tube shifters, get a water bottle from its cage and put it back, operate your cycle computer or GPS unit, wipe the rain off your glasses, point out obstacles to other riders, and so on. –  Gareth Rees Jan 21 '13 at 15:27
    
@GarethRees I didn't say people should never ride one-handed, but usually they don't want to depend on flat pavement in the dark while signaling back to faster-than-you'd-like upcoming traffic, possibly having to brake or dodge something in the meanwhile, possibly in the rain. I'd much rather have a solid signaling light attached to the bike, and have both hands firmly gripped to the bars, as much as possible. In the other hand, more ideal riding environments don't demand so much signaling power as proposed by the OP's product, anyway. (my opinion, of course) –  heltonbiker Jan 21 '13 at 17:12

3 Answers 3

When I ride at night, I just use those "pant leg bands" with a velcro closure, that have reflective material completely around the band. They fit easily around a forearm or wrist, and are easily illuminated by vehicle lights from any direction. They take no batteries at all and last until they are somehow lost. They can be used at any time of the year in any weather. These have worked well for me and require no maintenance at all.

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Thank you all for your feedback. Developments on the bike light design and my other work can be found at: me-products.jimdo.com –  Matthew Edwards Jan 23 '13 at 13:21

It's not clear from your question whether you ride regularly a bike, but really the best way to understand the requirements for a product like this is to get on a bike and do a bunch of riding around at night.

When you do this you'll find that the visibility of signalling at night is not as big a problem as all that. First, the proper approach to making a manoeuvre is look–signal–look–move: that is, you always check that it's safe to move and never presume that anyone has seen your signal. Second, bicycle position within the carriageway is a clear signal to other road users of your intentions: if you are positioned towards the left side of the carriageway, you intend to go straight on or left, and if you are positioned towards the right side of the carriageway then you intend to turn right. (Assuming drive-on-the-left as in the UK.)

Nonetheless, there might well be people who would like to buy lights to improve the visibility of their signals, so I'll make a couple more comments:

  1. A device that clips on to clothing depends on you wearing long sleeves and so will not be usable in the summer.

  2. If you're going to wear a light on your wrist for signalling then the light ought to be visible from all directions (so that it does not matter which way you put it on or how you hold your arm while signalling). The best shape would be a bracelet with lights all around.

So if I needed a device like this, I'd buy a SlapLit LED bracelet.

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In general, if someone is close enough they need to see your signal, they're probably close enough to illuminate retroreflectives with their headlights. So, something like this or this would probably be fine, and doesn't need either a clip or a battery. (OK, the second is really for ankles, but might work if you have thick wrists). –  Useless Jan 21 '13 at 16:38
    
@Useless: I don't agree with your first claim: many cyclists have lights that aren't bright enough to light up a retroreflector. –  Gareth Rees Jan 21 '13 at 16:42
    
Good point! (I was thinking of motor traffic, and anyway use a light strong enough to light a reflector myself). –  Useless Jan 21 '13 at 16:45
    
Thank you all for your feedback. Developments on the bike light design and my other work can be found at: me-products.jimdo.com –  Matthew Edwards Jan 23 '13 at 13:21

I think you've got a good idea here. As a frequent commuter to work, I often have to ride at night on roadways with poor lighting and/or no bike lane. The lights on my bike function well enough to warn drivers of my presence in the road, but do not offer near enough illumination to show any hand signals I may give--something which has resulted in several almost-accidents.

I think by clipping on additional lights to your sleeves, you can better indicate your destination/direction of riding. However, I do feel these should not act as a full-on replacement for lights on the bike. In Florida, at least, it is required to have both front and back-mounted lights, otherwise you incur a hefty fine.

Keeping the extra lights at a lower cost would definitely make me want to add them to my cycling gear. Avoiding adding more to my bike is also a draw.

Now you just need to market it to your overseas audiences as well!

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Thank you all for your feedback. Developments on the bike light design and my other work can be found at: me-products.jimdo.com –  Matthew Edwards Jan 23 '13 at 13:20

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