Innovations for Safer Cycling

11.6.2007 | 7:13 am

A Note from Fatty: I’m on the road on work-related business for a few days (yesterday, today and tomorrow). I tell you this for two reasons. First, so you know why I didn’t post yesterday. Second, so you will get a glimpse into my work life and what an important person I am.

Also, I want you to know that I have a new contest coming up. There will be lots of prizes, and none of the prizes are trivial. However, the contest will be strange and will, furthermore, require some effort on your part. In order to keep people from half-heartedly (or no-heartedly) competing, I am considering an entry fee, in the form of a donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Yes, I realize I have not told you the nature of the contest yet. But I will tomorrow. And I think you’re going to want to participate.

Finally — and very importantly (because, as I have noted above, I am a very important person) — I have a new article at You can read a preview below, or you can go read the whole article by clicking here.

Innovations for Safer Cycling
Consider the modern automobile. It is a wonder of safety-conscious engineering. Air bags. Anti-lock brakes. Crumple zones. Run-flat tires. Really, it takes considerable ingenuity and a can-do attitude to get yourself seriously injured in a car anymore.

And then there is the bicycle.

During the same 50 years when cars have gained enough sophisticated equipment to protect its passengers from even the most boneheaded of mistakes, the cyclist’s protective equipment innovations number exactly one: a helmet.

Yes, it’s 2007 and the best we’ve got to protect ourselves is a half-dome of styrofoam. Except that anymore, the half dome of styrofoam is mostly full of holes.

Gee, doesn’t that make you feel downright invincible?

Toward  improving the chances of surviving the mean streets — or singletrack, for that matter — on a bicycle, I have invented the following equipment to make riding a bike a safer, saner experience.

New Bike Computer Functions
Here’s an interesting fact that I just made up: Your bike computer has more computing power than a 1983 Cray Supercomputer. And yet, all it does is gauge your speed, distance, pitch, latitude, cadence, wattage, longitude, total feet climbed, and average rate of ascent, and your heart rate. What a slacker.

With a little programming and nine new wireless sensors, your bike computer could be made to do so much more. By sensing the humidity, road surface conditions, the amount of alcohol on your breath, tire air pressure, sudden fluctuations in your heart rate, and the angle of your bike to the ground, your bike can tell if you’re about to fall over sideways, whether due to sliding out or simply falling asleep.

When your bike computer notices a slight problem, it simply beeps a gentle reminder. If it notices that you’re wobbling considerably due to what it considers probable drunk cycling, it delivers an incapacitating electric shock to your hands via the handlebars and sdials the police.

If it notices you’ve actually fallen down, the bike computer should phone an ambulance. Unfortunately, however, I have so far been unable to get this feature to work. Every time my bike falls over, the extra mass from all the sensors, batteries, and computing equipment causes the bike to crash extremely hard to the ground, thereby crushing the bike computer into several small pieces.

Yes, I realize that is ironic. Shut up.

Click here to continue reading “Innovations for Safer Cycling” at

PS: BikeRadar now has RSS feeds. A few of you commented about that a while back, so I thought I’d call it to your attention. Even though I am a very important, busy person on a busy, important business trip.


  1. Comment by PC Clydesdale | 11.6.2007 | 7:24 am

    Thank you for the RSS feed notice, I tend to live by those darn things. Keep up the great work and I look forward to tomorrow and the new contest.

  2. Comment by Pete | 11.6.2007 | 7:26 am

    Why has every blog I read suddenly decided to do some kind of extremely difficult contest to win some kind of prize?

    So what’s the prize? (Pleasesaysomekindofawesomebike)

  3. Comment by Lowrydr | 11.6.2007 | 7:27 am

    Your humour (fr.) is superb, will you try to go international with these features? It would make the TdF really interesting if you do. And don’t forget that to truely ride “safe” you should always wear your booties (ie rubbers).

  4. Comment by fatty | 11.6.2007 | 7:36 am

    Pete – the contest isn’t all that difficult, and the reward is worth it. However, you should note that the prize is nowhere near that expensive. Also, anyone who is doing contests on their blogs are copying me. Tell them to cut it out or I will send my big important lawyers after them.

    Lowrydr – BikeRadar is based in the UK and I’m writing in the US, so I think I can qualify as international. Thank you for pointing out that I am now internationally famous. And important.

  5. Comment by Canadian roadie | 11.6.2007 | 8:16 am

    Another great read! Thanks for cheering up my morning. I would like to point out that your inflatable helmet would go great with my inflatable body suit. It inflates just before impact to protect my precious body.

  6. Comment by cheapie | 11.6.2007 | 8:20 am

    i think a good safety innovation would be some sort of lane departure warning or collision avoidance system. something integrated into your helmet radar. that way when you get so zoned out from the effort required to carry all that gear and can’t focus on holding your line, the unit will give you a small zap to wake you up. maybe have small electrodes integrated into the saddle for maximum effect.

    maybe also let you know you’re about to cross wheels with the rider in front of you or let you know when they’ve stopped pedaling and are grabbing a drink in spite of the fact that they’re in the front of the line! aaarrrggghhhh! yeah….that’s a pet peeve of mine. are you so thirsty that you can’t wait until you don’t have 15 people strung out in front of you? have you never seen what happens to a slinkie when the front suddenly changes pace?

  7. Comment by Ruedas | 11.6.2007 | 8:51 am

    I think we need some kind of device to protect us from trying to tighten loose spokes while we’re riding…

  8. Comment by Pammap | 11.6.2007 | 9:12 am

    Great read. What I love most about you, Fatty, is that you are important AND humble! I feel honored that you allow me to read your blog at all. Thanks.

  9. Comment by Lowrydr | 11.6.2007 | 9:27 am

    Fatty, how right you are, of course being internationally famous you already knew that. I forgot all about BikeRadar being across the Big Pond as it were. Cheerio ol’ sport.

  10. Comment by Miles Archer | 11.6.2007 | 9:32 am

    Where’s my ejection seat? Can’t you see Wiley E Coyote on a bike with an ejection seat?

    Or, how about an airbag system like the ones they use for the Mars landers.

  11. Comment by KT | 11.6.2007 | 10:35 am

    Hm… I DO like the idea of the expandable foam for when you’re about to crash… But how to deploy the foam in the most efficient manner, so that it encases you instead of just goes all over the place, coating random trees, cars, cats, the other people you’re riding with, etc? It’s a conundrum.

    FC, you’re important. And big, in Europe, evidently (different sizing scheme, you know how that is– you where a Medium here, and it’s an XL there. Or maybe it’s vice versa… I forget). And you do your own stunts, which is always cool.

  12. Comment by bikemike | 11.6.2007 | 11:15 am

    cateye just came out with the Rube Goldberg 7003 function model computer.
    it does tell you how fast you’re going but it takes an hour for it to figure it out.

    the more you know.

  13. Comment by Big Boned | 11.6.2007 | 11:21 am

    I believe that you are short changing the “Top Tube Pad”. That is a safety innovation that EVERY cyclist should have on their Christmas list if they don’t already own one (or three).

  14. Comment by Little1 | 11.6.2007 | 11:31 am

    when all else fails (to deploy) during my day there is one safety aspect (for my mind) that always works! Excellent article Fatty.

  15. Comment by Brandy | 11.6.2007 | 12:17 pm

    Have you really eaten all your Halloween candy already?

  16. Pingback by | The RocBike Review » Links Of The Day: 6 November 2007 | 11.6.2007 | 12:48 pm

    [...] Innovations for Safer Cycling [...]

  17. Comment by MonsieurM | 11.6.2007 | 12:57 pm

    Good stuff, but I’m concerned; there’s nothing in there to protect someone from those nasty, mutant wolverines…

  18. Comment by Vince | 11.6.2007 | 2:12 pm

    You’ve come up with all these wonderful ways to keep us safe while biking. But, as they say, an ounce of prevention…
    In order to avoid all the potential (and inevitable) accidents that happen when you’re out biking, just have a baby. Once you’ve got a baby, you can’t injure yourself while biking because you *can’t* go biking: Nothing keeps you off the road (or trail) like a colicy infant.
    Granted, this is only a temporary solution. Babies do grow up, and Fatty’s kids seem now to be *encouraging* him to ride. Or at least not hindering.

  19. Comment by DOM | 11.6.2007 | 3:08 pm

    This guy seems to have a device that removes the front wheel if the Breathalyzer result exceeds the legal limit.

    Okay, in his case, WAY exceed the limit.

  20. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 11.6.2007 | 3:14 pm

    Dear Mr Internationally Famous and Important FC (that should win a prize!!) – with all these safety innovations will we still have room for the Lazer Beam of Death. While a lot of your new devices deal with cyclist error and protection from these errors under Occ Health and Safety one of the first rules is to eliminate any hazard before it does any damage. I think the LBD’s still have a use here.

  21. Comment by Uncle Bob | 11.6.2007 | 5:15 pm

    Hmmm… What about that “Judge Dredd” helmet at the top of the Bike Radar article? Much cooler than my ugly polystyrene hairnet. I SO want one of those bad boys… Of course the ventilation might be a bit inadequate, but I’m sure something as futuristic as that has solar-powered air-conditioning.

  22. Comment by KeepYerBag | 11.6.2007 | 6:23 pm

    I guess you’re too famous, busy and important to notice your zipper’s been down all day.

    Vince — I feel your pain. Our kid was colicy, and it was unbearable. Non-stop crying from 3 PM to midnight, seven days a week for six months straight.

    If the baby’s not being breast fed, you might think about trying a soy based formula. We switched to “Baby’s Only Organic Soy” from Nature’s One and it helped substantially. That and a 55 gallon drum of simethicone. And earplugs.

    If switching formula is not an option, just have hope. It’ll get better.

  23. Comment by El Animal | 11.7.2007 | 8:10 am

    I’m just recovering from last night’s crash; I am very sore and with a lot of stitches in my elbow. I think that you should design inflatable elbow pads, knees etc, or probable a whole astronaut like suite that inflates when you fall. That would have been handy last night.

  24. Comment by Vince | 11.7.2007 | 8:49 am

    We did switch formula, which helped a lot. With the baby, not the biking.

  25. Comment by | 11.7.2007 | 9:43 am

    I think this might be your funniest bikeradar post so far. I’ll take 2… wait, can’t afford 2… can’t afford one. I’ll just take my chances then.

  26. Comment by | 11.7.2007 | 9:48 am

    Fatty: As a sidebar… Were you directly bagging on ME for having the Thanksgiving Menu contest? For goodness sakes, I hope not! First off I haven’t even included a prize… yet… Im working on one though. Second, I really would like your potato(e) recipe to be a part of it, or your desert. Wait, then you’d have to win, probably… aww heck!

  27. Comment by craig z | 11.7.2007 | 10:17 am

    Hey Fatty! I want to post at your forum, but cant login… i guess I need to be approved by the admin?

    Great Blog- look forward to it everyday.

    will there be another weightloss challenge?

  28. Comment by Likey, but Not So Bikey | 11.7.2007 | 10:27 am

    Ooooohhhhhh! Top. Tube. Pad. I thought you were saying Tube Top Pad! I couldn’t figure out why a guy would need padding there. …but, um… there, now it makes sense. Safety is fun.

  29. Comment by JP | 11.7.2007 | 2:05 pm

    Perhaps the bike computer’s extra CPU cycles could be used to control a 2-gang espresso machine stored, say, under the seat. Road bikers would need a way to prevent the guy or gal drafting you from pulling themselves a shot without offering you one, though.


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