Urban cyclists, who routinely travel the streets with people who text, eat, argue, sleep, drink alcohol and smoke while driving, should be an endangered species. Over the past 15 years in the U.S., the number of people who commute to work via bike has increased 61 percent. During the same period, automobile-related cyclist fatalities and injuries have increased by 16 percent. Despite risks on the road, these steadfast two-wheeled commuters want the health, environmental and economic benefits of using bicycles for transportation. Artefact Group, a product and industrial design firm based in Seattle, Wash., has developed a winning idea to help urban bikers achieve parity in the primordial traffic pool.
BrakePack, a multi-tasking backpack, connects via Bluetooth LE to a companion application that provides the smart cyclist with automatic signaling and navigation. It has LED lights that signal turns and braking similar to those of a car and the rider can signal manually by tapping a shoulder strap or automatically by engaging the mobile app. The application also measures distance, speed and performance. After riders juice the removable battery with a wall-mounted wireless charger, they are ready for the road—safer, saner and (in every way) smarter.