Inflatable helmets, glow-in-the-dark spray paint, a laser that makes a temporary bike lane—a heck of a lot of products have hit the market recently pledging to keep cyclists safer. But is it the responsibility of people on bikes to use any gadget necessary to stay safe? Or is this distracting from the bigger argument that we should be designing safer cities for bikers?
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Eben Weiss (also known as @BikeSnobNYC) argues that products designed to make biking “safer” are actually giving cars more power on the roads. Some cities and states are even considering laws that would require cyclists to wear certain helmets or protective clothing, which creates a worse situation for bikes. Why? Weiss argues that this kind of legislation that penalizes bikers for one thing takes the responsibility off of the urban designers to work on creating safer bike infrastructure.
At the center of his argument is this product called LifePaint, a “reflective safety spray,” created by, of all companies, Volvo, which should tell you where the priorities are:
The video is filled with messages from drivers to bikers: “Putting something on that will make you scream out to drivers like me is a fantastic thing.” But if this magic spray (this is starting to sound like some kind of bizarre superhero summer blockbuster plot) was indeed proven to keep bikers safe, shouldn’t they use it? Helmets have been proven to prevent head injuries, but should cyclists be required by law to wear them?
What do you think? Should people who ride bikes be held accountable for amassing all the technology they possibly can to help drivers see them?