When Ed Ward was knocked off his bike and into a busy London junction, he was determined it wouldn't happen again. But, rather than give up cycling, he set out to improve bike safety lights. His latest creation, the Commuter X4, is a wearable, fiber optic rear bike light designed to help drivers spot cyclists, as well as judge their distance, width and speed.
Currently vying for funding on Kickstarter, the Commuter X4 is a durable and water-resistant bike safety light which can be worn on the back or around a backpack, and consists of a central LED light and four fiber optic light guide straps. A series of popper fastenings and D-rings line the inside of the straps and mean it can be easily adjusted to fit backpacks up to 35 liters.
Inventor Ed Ward – who after six years of cycling in London unfortunately knows a thing or two about being knocked off a bike – says the design has a number of advantages over traditional single rear lights which can be easily obscured and don't make it easy for drivers to tell exactly where a cyclist is, or how fast they are traveling.
Ward says the position at which the Commuter X4 is worn means it's more likely to remain visible, even to elevated truck drivers who can find it difficult to see seatpost lights. He also says the fiber optic straps act as additional focal points, making it easier for drivers to judge a wearer's distance, width and speed than those using a single rear light. The straps also allow drivers to notice a cyclist's side profile at junctions.
The device – which recently took second place in the British Inventors' Project at Gadget Show Live, in the UK – can be charged by USB and should last for four hours on full power, or 15 hours in a power-saving mode. There are multiple flash and fade settings, and the central light and fiber optics can be controlled independently, allowing you to have either, or both, on. Even when turned off, the straps are highly reflective.
Through his firm Veglo, Ward is also working on a number of other bike lights which will include front, rear and helmet lights designed to keep cyclists visible to drivers even when in their blind spot.
A Kickstarter pledge of £39 (around US$65) will secure you a Commuter X4, which will start shipping in September if successful.
Check out the Kickstarter video about the Commuter X4 below.