While I applaud efforts to make biking sexier, I don't believe a fear of lycra is a serious factor in preventing would-be bikers from getting on the road. That being said, there are certain accessories that I think could be better designed to fit the needs of urban commuter. And with the number of bikers on the rise, designing and marketing practical bike accessories is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to tackle an emerging market.
One accessory I'd like to see improved is the helmet. For the last couple years, I've been using a basic Bell helmet that I painted neon yellow for increased visibility (Photo 1). But when I switched from riding a cyclecross bike to the Brompton, I started jonesing for more fashionable head protection.
For guidance, I turned to the recent NYTimes fashion spread on urban cyclists, but not a single helmet appeared in the glossy photos of Dutch bikes and male models clad in impossibly white suits.
I definitely wasn't prepared to give up the helmet - in fact there are days when I wish I had full-body Kevlar protection. I ultimately settled on a BMX/hipster style Bern helmet (Photo 2), but not before wondering - since horseback riders have a range of options, from velvet covered eventing helmets to the helmet hiding cowboy hat (Photo 3) - why there aren't a wider selection of bicycle helmet designs.
In my quest for new helmet styles, I came across a European helmet company Yakkay that designs helmets with interchangeable hat-like covers. Not exactly my aesthetic (Photo 4), and not available at U.S. retailers, but I applaud the effort. I'd personally prefer a helmet that looks like the old Italian "hairnet" helmets, but that actually offers adequate head protection (Photo 5).
The other biking accessory that I find extremely cumbersome is my bike locking system. Living in NYC, I'm afraid to use anything but a Kryptonite lock and heavy-duty chain, which weigh a lot and leaves bruises and scrapes on my hips when I bike with it. Maris suggested I should get a Rottweiler, but I'm convinced there's got to be a carbon-fiber light yet indestructible enough to deter bike thieves NASA-invented material that's just waiting to be utilized in bike-lock technology.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Bicycle Safety