A new jacket is aimed at making cycling around London (and other cities) safer for women.
Despite the stellar example set by Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott, and the fact that the 2012 Olympics inspired around 200,000 people to get on their bikes, men are still three times as likely as women to cycle, and travel four times further when they do, according to the Department for Transport.
A survey by cycling charity Sustrans found that not feeling safe was the biggest factor in deterring women from cycling, but while former MP Meg Hillier suggests that women-only lanes for ‘pootling’ are the answer, Will Verity has a more high-tech solution.
The London-based designer has invented a jacket with integrated sensors and LED lights. The sensors detect when a car or other vehicle is nearby, triggering the lights to start flashing, making the driver aware that a cyclist is there. Inspired by the way insects and fish change colour rapidly when they’re in danger, the lights flash more quickly the closer the car/bus/lorry gets to the rider.
That sounds a little distracting, and there’s always the worry that anything that draws more attention to a bike’s presence could inflame cyclist-driver relations. But if it can become as commonplace as a car’s indicator, then maybe it will work.
Verity designed the jacket to look different from standard safety gear, so it’s bright white with some transparent sections, rather than lollipop lady fluorescent. The idea is to encourage drivers and pedestrians to see cyclists as people rather than roadblocks.
He might consider making a version of the jacket for men in future, but for now he has more work to do before the design is available for purchase.