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Safety first.
September 18, 2010 3:23 PM   Subscribe

The Seil Bag: a bike backpack with turn signals! The Seil Bag consists of a printed circuit board with LED lights attached to a backpack. Equipped with a detachable wireless controller, riders can easily employ various signals such as directional arrows and emergency lights. South Korean Lee Myung Su won a 2010 red dot design award for her creation.
posted by Fizz (45 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice. I already clip my blinking red rear light to my backpack as it is, since that places it at eye level for SUV drivers.
posted by availablelight at 3:26 PM on September 18, 2010


It's one of those inventions where it's a sign of how good it is that people I've shown this to have been impressed, and also asked how come no one has invented this already.
posted by djgh at 3:27 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a great idea, as is this portable lane marker.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:29 PM on September 18, 2010


And by portable lane marker, I mean this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:32 PM on September 18, 2010


Seems to me that it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to develop a really simple left/right/stop indicator you could slap on the front or back of any bike. Sell 'em for twenty or thirty bucks and make cyclists safer and motorists happier.
posted by kozad at 3:34 PM on September 18, 2010


Wearing a helmet would also be a significant safety advantage.
posted by Rumple at 3:36 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


neat idea.... and the visibility factor is significant.

The primary drawback I see with this is the distraction factor for the rider. It appears there are at least four signals (riding, left, right, stop), which need to be turned on and off manually, this may be difficult to do on a moving bike without looking down at the control unit. also, it appears you have to move your hand to use the control unit.

On my motorcycle turn signals must be turned on manually, but, I don't have to move my hand and they turn off automatically after the turn is completed. (otherwise, you can bet I would leave them on half the time (even though the front signals are visible to me). Brake lights are, of course, tied into the brake pedal.
posted by HuronBob at 3:42 PM on September 18, 2010


It's a great idea, but the lights on the back really should be yellow, not green, as so to not accidentally emulate traffic lights. I'd be afraid that a driver looking on my back with a green right arrow would instinctively think "oh, I can turn right".
posted by suedehead at 3:43 PM on September 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Has anyone ever produced a turnsignal / brake-light setup for bicycles modeled after what has been standard on motorcycles and scooters for decades? Now that LED lights are so light and cheap, it would seem super easy to have turn signals on a bike.
posted by Forktine at 3:48 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


On my motorcycle turn signals must be turned on manually, but, I don't have to move my hand and they turn off automatically after the turn is completed. (otherwise, you can bet I would leave them on half the time (even though the front signals are visible to me). Brake lights are, of course, tied into the brake pedal.

A refinement might add an accelerometer that tells the control unit when the turn is finished.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:48 PM on September 18, 2010


On my motorcycle turn signals must be turned on manually, but, I don't have to move my hand and they turn off automatically after the turn is completed.

Only some motorcycles do this -- I had a BMW with this feature, for example, but none of the Japanese bikes I've owned had self-canceling signals.
posted by Forktine at 3:50 PM on September 18, 2010


This is nice. And it reminds me that technology is finally at the point where my Boom-Fro©* is finally feasible.

* The Boom-Fro© consists of two wireless speakers mounted on hair combs combined with a clip-on belt unit containing a bass tube, wee amp, and 1/8" input. I have wanted one for more than a decade. Hooray for the future!
posted by jtron at 3:52 PM on September 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a great idea, but the lights on the back really should be yellow, not green, as so to not accidentally emulate traffic lights. I'd be afraid that a driver looking on my back with a green right arrow would instinctively think "oh, I can turn right".

I also thought this. I think aesthetics got in the way of practicality on this one. A big orange light on the back of the cyclist seems like a better bet.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:55 PM on September 18, 2010


I'm totally getting this for my Segway.
posted by cazoo at 3:55 PM on September 18, 2010


Also, if traveling in Boston you will be arrested for terrorism.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:03 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The "brake light" should be automatic, either through a switch on the brakes or an accelerometer. It would also simplify the design to mount everything on the seatpost, so only one power supply would be needed (in-hub or sidewall generator).
posted by phrontist at 4:09 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is this actually new? I could swear I saw a (wired) version of this a couple decades ago. Except it attached to the rear of the bike rather then integrating into a backpack -- which is actually an advantage, imo, since why should I need to wear some personal equipment to get this feature on my bike?

I actually have one point on my commute where I make a turn partway down a hill, so I can appreciate the dangers of taking one hand to make a signal, but this seems like an overly-flashy implementation of a relatively obvious idea to me.

tl;dr: I agree with HuronBob -- this would be impressive if it were really the equivalent of car/motorcycle signals, which do most of these things without requiring user involvement.
posted by bjrubble at 4:17 PM on September 18, 2010


I see a new use for the iPad, in a transparent shoulder bag.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:22 PM on September 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


if any biker rider over 60 useing this signal device, the blinking turn arrow could be on for several miles. Many newer vehicles will tell the driver when a turn signal is left on too long. i heard a comment in a movie years ago, that stated "grandpa's right turn signal was on all the way from Utah to California".
posted by tustinrick at 4:36 PM on September 18, 2010


Very cool!
posted by Vindaloo at 5:19 PM on September 18, 2010


Wearing a helmet would also be a significant safety advantage.

Or indeed using any reflective gear or lights. Most of the time in that video she appears almost invisible to other road users.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:22 PM on September 18, 2010


When a rider using hand-signal, the rider is riding bicycle with one hand. It can lead an accident.

Ha, no shit, this is how I came off my bike a couple of months ago (braking too heavily while signalling).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:08 PM on September 18, 2010


This version of the same idea -- which seems much more practical and was on the market in 2007 -- actually addresses the "eternal blinker" problem by having it automatically shut off after a few seconds. Which I think is a great solution, because, really, do you ever really need to be perpetually signalling a turn while you're waiting for a couple minutes at a light?
posted by bjrubble at 6:17 PM on September 18, 2010


"if any biker rider over 60 useing this signal device, the blinking turn arrow could be on for several miles. "

I'm so meeting you after school to beat the crap out of you, on behalf of all of us over 60!
posted by HuronBob at 6:20 PM on September 18, 2010


The idea is excellent, the implementation a little less so. But I am prepared to revoke the design award on the basis of the video. I mean, seriously, starting your video with that ridiculous air/fire/water logo? Seriously? And that music?
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:23 PM on September 18, 2010


Is this actually new? I could swear I saw a (wired) version of this a couple decades ago.

Well, of course.

In the history of the bicycle, everything has been done before. -- Jesper Solling, re-inventor of the Pedersen bike
posted by dhartung at 6:56 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's also an iPad jacket-pocket thing that does this, plus the turn signals are self-canceling by dint of using the built-in accelerometer.
posted by limeonaire at 7:33 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a good idea, but with the provided video it's hard to to tell just how bright the lights are. A car moving at 20mph in a city might not have trouble discerning the symbols, but one moving at 40mph in the suburbs is a different matter.
posted by strange chain at 7:41 PM on September 18, 2010


This kind of signal for bikes is a intriguing idea, but I'm afraid that it won't work very well in practice and may actually give cyclists a false sense of security. First, without any type of standardization, I'm not sure that motorists will know what to look out for or how to interpret it. For a right hand turn it's one thing, but a left hand turn often involves merging with traffic and riding in the the travel lane for a short period of time. A hand signal for a left turn clearly lets motorists know you intend to take the lane. Will a left signal with this backpack have the same authority? I kind of doubt it.

Also, as others have said, it's pretty absurd to make a video highlighting your safety product while you're riding around with no helmet.
posted by TurkishGolds at 8:34 PM on September 18, 2010


I'm opposed to novel lights. It distracts the driver, and a distracted driver is a menace. A nice solid red blinkie of reasonable brightness out back, a bright-but-not-blinding headlight or two up front, and reflectors on your wheels. Drivers can note your presence, speed and direction without even thinking about it, and drive safely around you. Meanwhile, cute backpack girl gets clobbered as the SUV driver tries to peer over his hood to see what the blinking lights are spelling out. Oh. "Stop." Oops.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:27 PM on September 18, 2010


"it's pretty absurd to make a video highlighting your safety product while you're riding around with no helmet."

Agreed, and welcome to Korea.
posted by bardic at 9:28 PM on September 18, 2010


In my experience, pointing is the simplest, most direct way of signaling your intentions (at least in the US). It's especially suited to complex multi-lane intersections. An exaggerated, arm-swinging, index-finger-pointed-at-the-left-turn-lane gesture leaves little doubt as to your intentions.

You might also consider getting a spring-mounted horizontal flag. It's just a little orange flag that sticks out about two feet on your left. It will magically give your an extra two feet of clearance from passing traffic. (More militant cyclists may wish to epoxy a Dremel 9935 to the end of the pole for the occasional asshole that tries to hit the flag.)
posted by ryanrs at 10:52 PM on September 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


What a nice song.
posted by sfts2 at 11:03 PM on September 18, 2010


Doesn't the IPad have an accelerameter? In fourcheesemac's idea we could have it turn on off automatically.
posted by sfts2 at 11:06 PM on September 18, 2010


IF THIS IMPEDES MY ABILITY TO RUN OVER BIKERS I WILL BE VERY UPSET
posted by threeants at 11:49 PM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think those signals are way too easy for drivers to ignore. They don't fit in with a driver's expectations, but at the same they are not so bright and attention grabbing.

Hand gestures work great during the day, and if you have an appropriately reflective jacket they are pretty good at night too.
posted by Chuckles at 12:19 AM on September 19, 2010


Having cycled in London for the past decade, my take is that stuff like this isn't really part of the solution. The single largest improvement in rider safety will come from drivers giving cyclists more space and being more bike aware.

This has happened in London. Partly through necessity as there are more cyclists. A massive difference from 10 years ago. In short, despite breathless media commentary, it's no longer a battle. Cyclists are here to stay, and with the notable exception of black cab drivers, most drivers have made their peace with that.

The next steps are already in motion- way, way more cyclists wear fluorescent gear and helmets. And in a lot of parts of London junctions have been redesigned to be a little more bike friendly.

The next stage after that - cyclists riding defensively and sensibly is kinda getting there but not really. Some days when I cycle I'm almost the only one waiting at red traffic lights. Some cyclists still do dick moves like cutting into moving traffic just ahead of a car or swooping across lanes with no indication. Many cyclists don't look over their shoulders before manoeuvring, which is nuts. Some cyclsits still don't understand that respect for cyclists as road users still needs to be earned.

This backpack? Looks cool. Not enough backpacks have any built in lights. But it's not really a solution. And, as has been said upthread, an arrow pointing left or right is ambiguous - is it indicating my intentions or what I want the driver behind to do?
posted by MuffinMan at 1:25 AM on September 19, 2010


Neat.

This reminds me of a great ad from the British Think! road safety campaign, with motorcyclists transformed into amazing neon Mardi Gras-esque parade floats, which has turned into an obsession for me of doing the same thing with my black Vespa PX. Sometimes I think I may as well be wearing a magical invisibility cloak, given the looks of surprise people get when I'm right there, cussing a blue streak at them, at a traffic light after they've once again nearly killed me with some kind of standard idiotic car-bound shenanigan.

I don't want to do it halfway, either. I want the whole ten foot wild neon slice of the carnival midway like a great big peacock tail of flaming luminous look-at-me. 'Course, it'll reduce my already modest top speed even more, but who the hell cares when you look as amazing as it feels to be traveling the world on two happy little wheels?
posted by sonascope at 5:39 AM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]



Also, if traveling in Boston you will be arrested for terrorism.


And traveling through airports may require some 'splainin.
posted by Gungho at 5:42 AM on September 19, 2010


Bike turn signal jacket made with Lilypad Arduino and conductive thread.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:54 AM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


A refinement might add an accelerometer that tells the control unit when the turn is finished.

Depends on how you ride. I do all my braking before I turn, and then accelerate through the turn. Acceleration increases traction to compensate for the traction that is lost as I lean to turn.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:10 PM on September 19, 2010


Accelerometers detect more than forward acceleration -- it can tell your turn is finished because you're going straight again.
posted by mendel at 12:41 PM on September 19, 2010


Non-standard turn-signal colours, dimmer than Christine O'Donnell, and requiring a connection from bike-frame to body? Do not want.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:36 PM on September 19, 2010


Accelerometers detect more than forward acceleration -- it can tell your turn is finished because you're going straight again.

In a car, a turn is felt as a pull to the outside, right? But on a bicycle or motorcycle, one leans into the turn, so a turn feels like you are being pulled down by more gravity rather than outwards. Could an accelerometer know the difference?
posted by Forktine at 6:38 AM on September 20, 2010


Too fancy. Just put them on a timer.
posted by hellphish at 3:18 PM on September 20, 2010


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