Wireless communication devices used by bicyclists could potentially increase the level of ridership and safety. So suggests a new study from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities at Portland State University in Oregon. But we need to improve the connected vehicle (CV) technology and study its implications a lot more, says the report, How Technology Can Affect the Demand for Bicycle Transportation: The State of Technology and Projected Applications of Connected Bicycles.
“In conducting this research, it has become evident that there is a lack of consideration of bicyclists in the U.S. DOT, state DOTs’, and local DOTs’ CV initiatives, but also in city bicycle planning and Vision Zero,” the report states. “The U.S. DOT has spent many years developing more than three dozen CV applications, yet none of them directly acknowledge the presence of bicyclists on the road.”
The study defines a connected bicycle as one “equipped with devices, which enable wireless communication between internal and external entities, supporting vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-everything communications.” Some autos have had the equipment since the 1990s but only in the last decade did they start to be attached to bicycles. Some involve apps to help cyclists get where they're going. A few use sensors or other technology to tell cyclists everything from their heart rate to tire pressure. Some can even warn cyclists of approaching vehicles, using, for instance, radar attached to taillights. Others can use light as turn signals, which allows cyclists to keep both hands on the handlebars.
Some devices can even detect a crash and ask the rider if he wishes to have an emergency alert sent – if it gets no response, it will automatically send one. Possibilities appear endless.
But demand will have to come. “If bicycling is not considered a competitive transportation option within communities, it is unlikely that the mode share will increase. Governments are often looked upon to address this challenge; however, private actors such as bicycle manufacturers and technology companies also play an integral role” in developing and promoting the technologies for bicyclists.
Note: The report doesn't mention bicycling advocates, who certainly could spur demand.
See the report at https://trid.trb.org/view/1662694