Studies show that the best way to keep cyclists safe on the road is to have better bike lanes and related infrastructure, but until those protected bike lanes are built, inventors and researchers are trying to come up with technology that protects cyclists like better, smarter bike helmets and, in this case, an app that warns drivers of nearby cyclists to keep those collisions from happening in the first place.
Called The BikeShieldApp, the new smartphone app monitors the position of cyclists and drivers and sounds an alarm before drivers can even see a bike in their mirrors that one is nearby.
"You've probably had the experience that you're driving your car, and all of the sudden a motorcycle passes you on the left, fast," says Pere Margalef, one of the designers of the new BikeShieldApp. "You think if you'd just decided to change lanes, you would have hit this guy. So I thought, what if somehow before I even see him, I know that he's coming?"
The app uses the phone's built-in GPS to follow each user's vehicle. When any two vehicles are within a certain distance of each other where an accident could potentially happen, the driver gets a notification that can be set as a sound effect or as a voiced warning, The notification is sent five to ten seconds before the bike is visible by the car.
The cyclists don't get a warning, but the app does offer them the ability to see which routes are safest based on the amount of app users on the road.
This app could be really effective, but the major issue is that everyone on the road, drivers and cyclists alike, will have to download it in order for it to work. Of course, the fact that so many of us have these powerful tools in our pockets or sitting beside us in our cars makes this idea very convenient. All it takes is downloading an app to make our roads safer for cyclists.