Smart bike lights
Trial to improve safety and offer insights on cycling infrastructure
By Graham Stanley
As the longest night of the year approaches, Oxfordshire County Council and Smart Oxford have partnered with smart bike light company See.Sense to trial an impressive bike light that can not only make cycling safer and more fun, but shine a light on cyclist data to improve cycling infrastructure in the county.
As the main point of contact for the project at the county council, I purchased my See.Sense ACE light early and have been using it for about a month. Compared to other rear lights I have had in the past, it is small, very bright and charges by USB.
What really separates the ACE from standard rear lights is the extra smart functionality. It flashes brighter in high-risk situations such as intersections and switches to a solid red light when I brake. The light connects with an app on my smartphone, from which I can control the light settings and keep track of my ride statistics—so far, I have burned off the equivalent of 121 donuts and saved 64 kg of CO2 relative to completing my journeys with a car. This last feature makes tangible the benefits of cycling and motivates me to cycle more so I can indulge in a guilt-free pastry next time I happen to be at the bakery counter.
While all these features and others make the ACE light fun and functional for the user, the county council has partnered with See.Sense to gather insights about how cyclists move around the county. By joining the Oxfordshire Smart Cycling Project on the See.Sense app and connecting the light to the app, data from the light is collected by See.Sense, depersonalised, and shared with county transport planners. Over 100 million points of data have been collected thus far in Oxfordshire, not only showing where and when people cycle, but speeds, obstructions and road surface conditions.
Insights collected from See.Sense lights add to the development of a comprehensive cycling dataset. Other sources of data include Vivacity Lab sensors, which use artificial intelligence to count cyclists and pedestrians passing through over 120 junctions in Oxfordshire. Together, these innovative technologies are providing the county council with a rich and ongoing source of cycling data that will be used to inform how the county council can reprioritise our road space to provide improved cycling routes across the City and beyond.
While I use my See.Sense light primarily so that I can be visible (and to justify eating that donut on the way home), the lasting impact will be making my rides visible to council transport planners, enabling a better-connected, safer cycling infrastructure to be developed.
See.Sense has offered 300 smart bike lights at a reduced cost of £15 on a first come first serve basis.
Go to https://seesense.cc/pages/oxfordshireproject to find out more about the project and buy your discounted ACE light while supplies last. Enter SmartCities code OXFORD on the See.Sense app to join.