We know the many health benefits of using a bicycle for commuting or recreation. But there are ways to be more aware of surroundings and to get more credit for your efforts.
May is National Bike Month and many will head out on the roads or trails to collect the mental and physical perks that come with a ride. But if some people need convincing, note the cool tech out there to get the most out of rides and help keep cyclists safe.
Crashes injure more than 130,000 and kill nearly 1000 bicyclists on United States roads each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While tracking the number of cyclists killed by drivers in 2020, Outside magazine found that in 26% of those crashes were hit-and-runs.
And while many cyclists have been using Garmin’s rearview radars for years to know if a car is approaching, the company just released an upgrade that may help in hit-and-run cases. The Garmin Varia RCT715 rearview radar and tail light now has a camera. It is always capturing video and if an incident is detected, that footage from before, during and after the event is automatically saved.
“Now, cyclists can head out for a ride knowing the Varia RCT715 rearview radar activated tail light will notify oncoming cars to the presence of a rider, and the built-in camera will continuously record their surroundings and provide video evidence of an incident, should they ever need it,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of global consumer sales.
Riders will receive visual and audible notifications to warn if a vehicle is coming up from behind, up to 153 yards away. The Varia RCT715 can pair with a companion Garmin device or an app on any smartphone. This could offer a little peace of mind for cyclists and has four hours of battery life. The rearview radar with tail light and camera costs $399.99. The tail light and radar without the camera is $199 and the radar unit alone is $149.
Apple Watch also aims to keep cyclists safer with its latest update that includes Fall Detection. The Apple Watch SE or Series 4 or later knows if a cyclist crashes and will tap them on the wrist, sound an alarm and display an alert. It asks if the cyclist would like it to contact emergency services or whether they are OK. If the watch detects the cyclist is moving, it won’t automatically call. But if the person who crashed doesn’t respond after about a minute, the watch starts a 30-second countdown while tapping the cyclist on the wrist and sounding an alert. If it doesn’t get a response, it will call emergency services and play an audio message informing them it detected a hard fall and will share the cyclists’ location. The watch will also send info about the wearer’s possible fall and location to emergency contacts, if the user set up that feature.
If cyclists want to take advantage of Fall Detection, they’ll need to head to their Apple Watch app and tap Emergency SOS to turn it on. Users can also choose whether Fall Detection will always be on or only during workouts. If the user entered their age when setting up their Watch or in the Health app, the feature automatically turns on for those age 55 or older.
Watch also now helps those who jump on their bike for a ride, but forget to let their watch know to start tracking their exercise. The watch now detects when the wearer is riding a bike and prompts them to start an Outdoor Cycle workout. Advanced algorithms analyze heart rate, accelerometer, heart rate and gyroscope data to better measure time actually moving on a bike versus stationary time, like waiting at a stoplight.
New voice feedback can help cyclists keep their eyes on the road. Siri can now give users details on milestones and activity ring status through their watch’s speaker or Bluetooth headphones.
Also, for better or for worse, Apple Watch will now more accurately measure calories a cyclist burns while riding an electric bicycle. The algorithms can now better determine whether the rider is using pedal-assist versus leg power alone. There’s no more getting credit for exercise when the motor is doing the work.
For those looking at buying an e-bike, the Serial 1 eBike powered by Harley-Davidson just launched its second generation with Google Cloud connectivity. So instead of a watch connecting with an app to get turn-by-turn navigation and real-time data like speed, distance and battery range, the bike sends all that directly to the app. Google Maps will suggest the best bicycle-specific routes, including bike lanes, bike path and bike trails. Cyclists are able to digitally lock the e-bike from anywhere and can use an integrated USB-C charging cable under the handlebar stem for a phone. These Serial 1 eBikes range in price from $3799 to $5599.
For those getting on a bike this year, these gadgets and features can help give cyclists peace of mind while also reaping the many benefits of riding.