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Kickstarter campaign launched to put innovative VeloCityLight into production

An Edinburgh-based company is looking for funding on Kickstarter to introduce a rear bike LED that displays your speed as you ride.

According to its inventor, Euan Mackenzie, “Drivers see the VeloCityLight and associate the displayed speed with their own rate of travel. It’s a prod, a mental prompt to re-evaluate their own rate of travel and their subsequent actions.   

“Its effect on drivers is fundamentally different from any other red light. A number is a meaningful symbol that has to be processed, registered and stored in semantic memory. This is what makes the VeloCityLight something special.

“Regardless of whether the cyclist is travelling at the speed limit or at a gentler pace, VeloCityLight gives the approaching car more information about the cyclist in the visual noise of traffic, day or night.”

The idea is that the VeloCityLight immediately indicates to other road users that you are a cyclist, and it also functions as a brake light because it gets brighter as you slow down. The 48 individual LEDs give out 20-175 lumens.

How does the VeloCityLight know how fast you’re going? You fix an ANT sensor to your fork and a magnet to a spoke, as you do with most bike computers. The sensor sends the information wirelessly to the VeloCityLight. Sounds pretty straightforward. It’ll also send data to an ANT-based cycle computer, if you have one.

The VeloCityLight has adjustable levels of brightness, and a sensor automatically adjusts the brightness according to the light conditions of the environment. It runs on a USB rechargeable 1700mAh internal battery and the makers say that it offers between four and 12 hours of continuous use, depending on the brightness setting.

The VeloCityLight measures 110mm x 60mm x 20mm (about the size of an iPhone) and weighs about 65g.

Euan Mackenzie and his team have developed prototypes and are now looking for £40,000 in crowdfunding from their Kickstarter campaign.

If you pledge £45 or more you’ll be in line for a VeloCityLight and bracket that’ll work with an existing ANT sensor. Pledge £49 or more and you’ll get the full package, including a sensor (that goes up to £55 after the 100 earlybird places are taken up). Other incentives are available for pledges of different amounts.

As usual with Kickstarter, none of the money is taken unless pledges reach the campaign’s target. 

If they reach their target, the team aim to get the first units out by March 2014, or maybe February.

If you’re interested in more details, head to the VeloCityLight website or go to the Kickstarter page

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

35 comments

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bendertherobot [1077 posts] 2 years ago
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It's brilliant. Until you are exceeding the motor vehicle speed limit. Then the hypocrite who hurls abuse at you whilst travelling faster has more ammunition.

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teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
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Interesting idea, but from the video it looks like the numbers are too small for other road users to see from far enough away to effect their behaviour. Also, does it actually work as claimed? Is there data from the prototype testing showing that driver behaviour is changed by this product?

I think it's a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. Bad overtakes happen when drivers rate their journey as more important than other people's safety. They rarely happen because the driver misjudges rider speed. This is also the case with left-hooks - it isn't really "I thought I had enough time" but "I don't care whether I kill you or not" - if drivers actually cared they'd give more space and time to riders, regardless of the speed.

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jason.timothy.jones [294 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah I agree with above, the problem is the drivers attitudes, not the driver knowing how fast the bike is going

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jason.timothy.jones [294 posts] 2 years ago
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This is a reason why I really don't like crown funding sites, rather than go and look for backers that would ask all the relevant questions...such as show me the research that proves this makes a difference, or show me some market analysis that shows that cyclist with want this monstrosity on the back of there bike.....no, they go down this route instead.

Im sure there are some examples, but does anyone know of a product that has actually been successful via kickstarter and the business has gone on to better things?

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Darkerside [75 posts] 2 years ago
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To that last question - the Pebble smartwatch.

And I like it. Of course it's not going to cause significant changes in driver behaviour, but then very little does in isolation. I like the fact it gets brighter as you brake, I like the fact that the changing patterns will draw attention whilst maintaining a constant light source, and I like the gadget factor.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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My biggest worry when it comes to those not judging my speed correctly are those about stepping out or pulling out in front of me.

What's the point of telling people I've gone past what my speed is? If they are coming up from behind I would rather use a static light so they could judge how far away I was.

http://imgflip.com/i/5egcj

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edinburghbike [12 posts] 2 years ago
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I think the guys were thinking about this when they built it  1

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mrchrispy [454 posts] 2 years ago
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i think its more useful in destroying the moral of someone you've just blowen past on the long climb  19

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sm [383 posts] 2 years ago
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Give me a self-activated version with two displays. Smiley face or the finger!

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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teaboy wrote:

I think it's a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. Bad overtakes happen when drivers rate their journey as more important than other people's safety. They rarely happen because the driver misjudges rider speed. This is also the case with left-hooks - it isn't really "I thought I had enough time" but "I don't care whether I kill you or not" - if drivers actually cared they'd give more space and time to riders, regardless of the speed.

The vast majority of drivers do not want to kill anyone. People on the whole do not want to kill other people and will actively avoid it. it is an issue of ignorance or misjudgement but this is not the answer IMHO. (although it is sort of cool)

Like that daft laser projector light this is not a common enough concept for people to recognise what it is they are actually seeing, it just won't register in the way the designer intended.

Oh and please think of a more original name. I think Velo and City may have been combined before in a cycling context.

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jason.timothy.jones [294 posts] 2 years ago
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joemmo wrote:

Oh and please think of a more original name. I think Velo and City may have been combined before in a cycling context.

It should be called the Roubaix light...I would buy one then  1

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caaad10 [184 posts] 2 years ago
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It's fairly obvious any competitive cyclist will cycle faster if this is fitted......

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Simmo72 [604 posts] 2 years ago
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I would have thought there is more danger of a driver failing to calculate your approaching speed and pulling out in front of you, not much you can do about that with a device but wish them well, if it saves a life its worth it.

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Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 2 years ago
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Is it me, or are all bike projects on Kickstarter proof that everything useful has already been invented?

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Chris Hall [4 posts] 2 years ago
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The problem with the a light such as this is rather than simply drawing the motorists attention to the cyclist it serves as a distraction. I never think its a good idea to get the motorist to concentrate so hard on reading the info provided that they end up going in to the back of you. Plus it's a distraction from everything else going on around them. The number isn't large enough for a start so the motorist is going to have to look really hard to read it and will more than likely be to close once the number comes in to full focus. Yes you want to be noticed and seen so that a car avoids you but a decent bright normal light will offer that anyway.

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 2 years ago
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it's not one for the ample of thigh, i fear  39

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Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 2 years ago
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I like it... Will it solve traffic issues? I doubt it.

But I like anything that gives drivers cause to think, to notice you on the road.

I like the way it brightens when slowing, too. And I like the fact that it is a big, bright rear light.

I can also see its popularity within competitive cycling situations... I for one would love this on the local chain gang.

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stefv [211 posts] 2 years ago
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Would be pretty cool if all the pro riders had them in races.

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Mart [110 posts] 2 years ago
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I've often thought "why are you overtaking me?" when I'm doing the speed limit or just below it (20 or occasionally 30).
This could provide a bit of an incentive to drive more carefully if they can see your very close to the speed limit. I guess they were going to the same effect the "your speed" lit signs strive to do, public shaming. ie the driver behind might think you were a bit of a c**k for overtaking someone just a few mph slower than the limit.
The gadget fan in me likes it.
Think of the effect it would have on the roads if all cars had to have this, it would reduce speeding instantly.

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stefv [211 posts] 2 years ago
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"Think of the effect it would have on the roads if all cars had to have this, it would reduce speeding instantly."

+1

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racyrich [254 posts] 2 years ago
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mckechan wrote:

"Think of the effect it would have on the roads if all cars had to have this, it would reduce speeding instantly."

+1

Eh? 'Cos all car drivers have no idea how fast they're going otherwise?

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pwake [376 posts] 2 years ago
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I guess I shouldn't be, but I'm often surprised by the overall negativity of the comments for ideas like this. When this site features almost daily news of cyclists being killed or seriously injured, I, for one, am heartened to see that innovative, entrepreneurial people are attempting to make a difference, however small that my be, rather than sitting on their arses moaning and belittling others efforts.

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dafyddp [362 posts] 2 years ago
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I like the idea, but wonder it's the opposite of what's required! Would it be more effective if it displayed the speed of the approaching vehicle? Ideally with a 'please slow down' or 'thank you' message? It would need to be bigger, obviously, but a matrix of LED set on to a forward-facing panel of a rucksack would possibly work. I suppose the difficulty is calculating the speed of an approaching vehicle when the cyclist themselves might be slowing down/accelerating...

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Problem is that the modern LED rear light is pretty much the perfect device already. They are light, cheap, simple to fit and use, the batteries last for ages and if cleverly designed can be unobtrusive when not used and if needs be can be supplemented by other lights on clothing, helmets, luggage or kiddy seats that are equally user friendly.

As a kid I remember the big Ever-Ready lights that weighed a ton, ate batteries and bounced out of their brackets at the first bunny hop.

To me, all these ideas (like that expensive auto-on rear light in here a fortnight ago) just add complication and cost

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aslongasicycle [383 posts] 2 years ago
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Going to go down like a sack of cold sick with cyclists in Richmond Park. See this:
http://road.cc/content/news/95155-are-police-fining-speeding-cyclists-ri...

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stefv [211 posts] 2 years ago
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racyrich wrote:
mckechan wrote:

"Think of the effect it would have on the roads if all cars had to have this, it would reduce speeding instantly."

+1

Eh? 'Cos all car drivers have no idea how fast they're going otherwise?

I think psychology is a little more complex than that and if a driver knows his/her speed is publicly projected they would probably slow down. I think it would be like active speed signs outside of villages...
http://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/content/article/10.1680/tran.2000.141.2.67
Studies in the UK have shown that these signs can be more effective in reducing vehicle speeds than direct police enforcement using speed ‘guns’.

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Sudor [186 posts] 2 years ago
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Can we please have one displaying %B FTP or % Max HR so my miserable ride mates consciences' are pricked into taking a turn up front?

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Sudor [186 posts] 2 years ago
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Can we please have one displaying %B FTP or % Max HR so my miserable ride mates consciences' are pricked into taking a turn up front?

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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Can't really see the point, drivers will have to concentrate too much on seeing the speed display they'll be on top of you. A personal light flashing does have more of an impact I believe.

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Euan [4 posts] 2 years ago
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Hello all

One of the big questions seems to be from how far away can a driver see the light to read the speed?

We've tested this.

In the dark at the lowest light setting it is readable at 40 to 45 m, around double the typical stopping distance of a car travelling at 30 mph.

This means, for example, that when a car is travelling at 35 mph approaches a bike travelling at 14 mph, the driver will have around 4.5 seconds to read and make a decision about how to approach the cyclist safely. If you think about it that’s a lot of time.

And even before it's close enough to read clearly, the fact the light is spread over a wider area means it's easier to see that it's getting closer, compared to a single red light.

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