Volvo’s anti-collision system extended to cyclists

Volvo announced today – at the Geneva motor show – that the collision warning with full auto brake and pedestrian detection safety system can now not only detect pedestrians but also cyclists. The package will be called Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake.

The system monitors traffic thanks to a radar unit integrated into the car’s grille, a camera fitted in front of the interior rear-view mirror and a central control unit. The radar spots objects that are then analysed using the camera. When the safety system identifies a potential danger it warns the driver before engaging the automatic braking function. The feature will be available in the Volvo V40, S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 and S80 models from May this year. – Read the announcement on Dagens industri (in Swedish).

While this looks like a pretty good feature on paper (and a useful one if it can prevent accidents) it also is – in my opinion – yet another support system that once again is designed to compensate for automobilists lack of attention to the road and lack of focus on actually driving a 2-ton vehicle: rely on the ABS in slippery road conditions, rely on the pedestrians detection system while typing an SMS, …

There are of course times when those systems are going to act upon a sudden and unpredictable situation and save lives but wouldn’t it be easier to solve safety issues directly at the source (behind the wheel that is) instead of making cars smarter? Is it worth investing so much money in R&D to solve an issue that occur most of the time on 3 (and less) kilometer drives (around 50% of all car trips are three kilometers or less)? Can’t people concentrate more than 2 minutes behind the wheel?

Blackburn Flea 2 USB Front Light

If there is one pair of accessories a cyclist really does need it would be a front and rear lights set. Whether you are a daily all year round bike commuter or just a casual rider lights are an essential – required by law in many countries – element to both see the road and to be seen.

There are plenty of bicycle lights available on the market and one should carefully choose according to the riding conditions. In “the dazzling bike light epidemic” Andreas (the author behind writes about London’s cyclists using lights (mainly front lights) way too bright for night cycling in a city and the problems they may cause to fellow riders (but also car drivers). The issue is not limited to London and I have been blinded a couple of times by cyclists coming from the opposite direction here in Stockholm by devices that shone like stadium floodlights mounted on the handlebar.

I ride pretty much every day (winter, spring, summer & autumn) in this beautiful city and – even if the days are rather short half of the year – I must say I have never felt the need for a 1200 lumen front light in the city. Ever.

There are plenty of street lights in Stockholm, they work fine and the snow makes the streets even brighter most of the winter.

For my commuter bike I opted for a Blackburn Flea 2 front light (40 lumen) which is bright enough, has a descent runtime and is USB rechargeable (a USB rechargeable light is a must have if, like me, you ride an hour daily with the lights on). I have no complaint so far on the product and only regret that the hook loop strap must be removed in order to position the light on the USB charger.

All in all I’d like to repeat myself and say that a 40 lumen front light more than suffices in 90% of the situations and that number is probably very close to 100% in urban environments. If I were you I’d keep the MagicShine MJ-816E (1800 lumen) for dark rides in the forests around Nacka. Please.

Sweden Bike Expo, Stockholm

I don’t really know what I was expecting from Sweden Bike Expo (a bicycle fair in Stockholm) apart from having a nice time with a couple of friends but in retrospect I must say I was a bit disappointed.

I knew I was going to see bikes, lots of bikes and there were bikes, lots of bikes. Lots of racers and mountain bikes and very few alternatives but one cargo bike, a couple of single speeds, 3 “Dutch bikes” (yes, three), some electric bikes and – maybe it was well hidden and I missed the stand – no cyclo-cross.

Sweden Bike Expo, Stockholm

When you go to a bike fair you must be prepared to see bikes – no doubt about that – but I guess I was looking forward to discovering “new things”, some cool accessories and smaller brands than Trek, Corratec & Scott. To simply put it I was looking forward to seeing things that are not all over the magazines. Some “out of the ordinary bike porn” would have been very appreciated and I certainly did not go to Sweden Bike Expo to buy lycra clothing and tires on sale (the sales area was surprisingly the most popular part of the fair it seems).

But I did find one interesting accessory: the Tacx Lumos. It’s probably not a new concept and might have been around for a while but I’d never seen it before. The Tacx Lumos are basically drop bar caps that replace regular caps but provide better visibility thanks to the back/red & front/white LED lights they are.

Tacx Lumos

Since I don’t ride a racer I haven’t tried them myself but it’s an interesting and rather non-intrusive piece of safety on a commuter bike (if you commute with drop handlebars that is).

Don’t get me wrong though. I was a bit disappointed but I still enjoyed the fair and good company. It was a well spend Saturday morning in November Stockholm and I even got a brand new ice scraper! Seriously? Ice scrappers for goodies on a bicycle fair?

look! for cyclists

Since it seems to be nearly impossible to teach cab drivers how to drive and behave the Department of Transportation in New York City initiated a campaign to prevent (or at least reduce) doorings. 26,000 stickers are to be placed on the windows and doors of the city’s cabs to remind people to check for cyclists before they exit the vehicle.

I’ve stopped counting the number of times I had to ride on the road because of a taxi parked on the bike path unloading passengers: this happens pretty much each and every day (Skeppsbron would be the worst of all on my route). I sometimes stop by and try to talk to the drivers but, as if they knew they’re being stupids, they often just pretend not to see me or, even better, act like they know better and raise their voices.

sticker, look out for cyclists

Those “Look! For cyclists.” stickers (I read about then on might not solve the real problem but if they can just make people think twice before opening the door I think it’s worth the rather cheap investment. Do you think they should be put on Stockholm’s cabs? Or on all cars even?