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MAKE Volume 19 Speed Vest

If car users knew how fast cyclists were moving, would they be more willing to share the road? That’s the question posed by Mykle Hansen in the intro to his Speed Vest project from MAKE Volume 19.

Bicyclists receive a lot of honk-based grief from car drivers who perceive them as slow and in the way, and when drivers misjudge a bicycle’s speed, it can cause “right hook” collisions that kill several bicyclists each year. This lightweight night-cycling vest displays your current speed in glowing, 7-inch-tall numbers easily visible to cars. On the back, an Arduino microcontroller reads input from an off-the-shelf bike speedometer sensor, and then switches power to sewn-in numerals made from electroluminescent (EL) wire.

Mykle’s entire project is now up on Make: Projects for you to check out, collaborate, and build your own vest. Safety first! Check out this video to see the vest in action:

Goli Mohammadi

Goli Mohammadi

I’m a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

I was an editor for the first 40 volumes of MAKE. The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. Covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made.

Contact me at snowgoli (at) gmail (dot) com.


19 Responses to How-To: Speed Vest for Night Cycling

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  1. Step one, send the speed to a phone app that sends the data to a server that can start tracking what routes are faster for cyclists. Make it available for free. Step two, build it for real, I want one (who doesn’t?) :)

  2. Step one, send the speed to a phone app that sends the data to a server that can start tracking what routes are faster for cyclists. Make it available for free. Step two, build it for real, I want one (who doesn’t?) :)

  3. No offense I really like the idea but around where I live we can’t get motorists to read the speed limit unless they receive it in a text. Best of luck though.

  4. Anonymous on said:

    Cool idea, but really – does there need to be a “7” in the 10’s place?  Or a “6”, or even that “5” I see peeking out there?

  5. Anonymous on said:

    Cool idea, but really – does there need to be a “7” in the 10’s place?  Or a “6”, or even that “5” I see peeking out there?

  6. Anonymous on said:

    I love that it looks like a giant nixie tube. That said I don’t think motorists should be concerned with the numeric value of the cyclist’s speed. This is a distraction. They just need to be aware of the bikes and how to pass safely if they wish to. A driver who wants to pass a bike (or car) doesn’t care that the bike (or car) is already over the speed limit. If they were upset about not being able to pass, then this is just likely to upset them more.

  7. Neat Idea.  I’d probably try to build it as a 7-segment display for the numbers though to cut down on the amount of EL wire needed and make it look a bit cleaner.

  8. sonoale on said:

    Neat, but I’d not feel confortable with something high-voltage sewed on my back! Hope it doesn’t rain.
    Anyways, two large displays tied at the back of the bike (not of the vest) would to the trick. In this case EL-wire would be ok to me.
    I second Big’s comment, though.
    Ale

  9. O4W/Cabbage Town Represent! Very nice.

  10. O4W/Cabbage Town Represent! Very nice.

  11. Nicky and Jacqui… I thought you might find this interesting for your running and biking.  Very cool!

    Michael

  12. Nicky and Jacqui… I thought you might find this interesting for your running and biking.  Very cool!

    Michael

  13. Anonymous on said:

    Very cool.

  14. Anonymous on said:

    it should read, “pass with care” or “caution” or some sort of warning. I don’t think anyone cares how fast he’s going except him. It doesn’t matter if you’re going 7 or 37 motorists still won’t give you 3 feet and they sure as hell won’t slow down.

  15. John McDonald on said:

    I love this.  Where do I get one?  

    I am planning to ride 6,000 from Kodiak, Alaska to Key West, Florida next summer.  

    Check out my blog-  http://johnsamericabiketour.blogspot.com

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