"Dooring." Maybe you've never heard the word before, but it's something that affects huge numbers of road users - it's when drivers, or passengers, open their car doors without looking, creating a serious hazard for cyclists nearby. It's thought to injure thousands of people in cities around the world, and with rises in the numbers of cyclists on the roads, and insufficient cycle lanes, it's set to increase in coming years. While road safety education is vital to help solve the problem, now, technology could soon also be doing its bit. Semcon, Swedish a product development company, has developed a smart solution to help drivers to check if a cyclist or a motorcyclist is approaching.
The Life Sticker is a small smart device that alerts the driver if a cyclist is approaching. It can be easily stuck to any door mirror - regardless of model or age. Charged using in-built solar panels, it identifies approaching cyclists using bluetooth technology and alerts the driver so they can avoid opening the door into the cyclist and preventing an accident. The company has already completed an initial prototype.
There's one drawback to the technology - because the Life Sticker tracks cyclists using the bluetooth of their smartphone, it assumes that all cyclists have a smartphone and its bluetooth is activated. When both of those things happen, the device is able to detect cyclists up to 100 metres away. That also means that in rush hours, in places where riding a bike to move around is a common activity, the device might be active all the time.
With a production price aimed at around two euro, the Life Sticker - if it makes it into production - could be a really simple, accessible and inexpensive device for those drivers that want to be extra careful, aren't used to driving in areas with high numbers of cyclists and who want to develop good habits about checking the road before opening the door. According to the company who developed the prototype, 85 per cent of the 1500 cyclists who responded to their survey had experienced dooring themselves - so there's definitely a demand for this kind of solution.
While technology, as in this case, can play a role, we shouldn't forget that road safety education and techniques such as the so-called "Dutch Reach" - using the right hand to reach the door handle so the driver ends up turning around and can see if a bike is approaching - are key to prevent these dangerous situations happening in the first place.
The Life Sticker isn't yet on the market - the company is aiming to start producing it within a year, and currently seeking investors to work with. But it's yet another cycling innovation for the Swedish company, who also developed a smart adaptor you can stick on your bike to instantly convert it into an electric one.