Should Cars Have External Airbags to Protect Cyclists and Pedestrians?

© TNO via Fast Company

Fast Company shows an airbag designed for cars that protects cyclists and pedestrians. Morgan Clendaniel describes it:

The exterior airbags cover the lower portion of the windshield, creating a softer landing for a human skull flying through the air at 25 miles per hour than, say, a pane of glass. A camera positioned beneath the rear-view mirror can determine if the car is approaching any pedestrians or cyclists, and if sensors in the car’s bumper detect contact--here comes the airbag.

Then it's the War on the Car in comments, with drivers saying "So.....car drivers should carry even more weight, cost and responsibility for the actions of irresponsible cyclists." and "Cyclists need to take the risk that roads were built for cars, and cars belong there.... not cyclists."

In fact, drivers should be applauding these; studies have shown that drivers with antilock brakes follow more closely, and that people in seat belts often drive faster. It's called Risk Compensation, defined in Wikipedia as "whereby people tend to adjust their behavior in response to perceived level of risk, behaving less cautiously where they feel more protected and more cautiously where they feel a higher level of risk." With an airbag on the front, drivers can just go faster and mow down more cyclists with impunity.

Over at the Urban Country, James Schwartz has a better idea to increase safety:

The best way to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists is to remove seatbelts from cars and put metal spikes on the steering wheel facing the driver. This will guarantee that drivers will be more cautious while driving.

How about we just all take a pill and slow down.

Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Bikes