Biking Crash-Test Dummy Could Make Cyclists Safer

Bike Crash Test DummyOttawa Sun Video/Screen capture

Ow! My head!

Crash tests have undoubtedly made cars safer. They provide a controlled environment where accidents of all kinds can be replicated and studied by safety engineers. So why not do the same with bikes? Of course, there's less actual material to tweak to improve safety (airbags on a bike?), but some important things could still be gleaned from such tests.

That's why students at Ottawa's Carlton University have spent 8 months creating a "cyclist" crash test dummy that is designed to go over the handlebars of a bike at 25 kilometres an hour (15.5 miles per hour). Their goal this year is to simulate head and neck injuries, and next year the dummy's sensors will be expanded to include the rest of the body.

Bike Crash Test DummyOttawa Sun Video/Screen capture

“The idea is that we should be able to throw this crash test dummy into whatever situation and get a reasonably accurate result, regardless of whether we know (in advance) what injuries we’re going to have,” he said.

When engineers crash a car, they use one type of dummy for a frontal crash, and a different type for an impact from the side. Neither type is considered quite right for a cyclist who hits something, or slams on the front brakes hard, and flies over the handlebars.[...]

The dummy wears a helmet. But like a human cyclist, it keeps the important stuff inside its head.

This includes one sensor that deforms under the force of impact, to show the stress that a real cyclist would endure.

There are also two accelerometers, devices that can measure any change in speed, either faster or slower. (source)

Cycling injuries, and ways to better prevent them (other than passive safety and better biking infrastructure, which should be a priority), should definitely be studied more. Kudos to the Carlton students!

You can see the video of the crash test dummy here (I'm not sure the top leg joints are realistic, unless it's supposed to model a very flexible gymnast).

Via Ottawa Citizen, The Atlantic Cities

See also: Ask the Experts: Why Is US Bike Culture So Different From Europe's?

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