As some residents likely know, I'm a gadget geek. And, as I'm sure has escaped no one's attention, I get around almost exclusively by bike. It's a real pleasure, then, to have recently been asked by Safer Roads Ottawa's Rob Wilkinson to take part in a one-month trial of a new helmet, the Lumos.
It's a brand new helmet that incorporates - get this - turn signals, in addition to built in front and rear lights.
The City has purchased 12 of these, and they've asked some cycling councillors, by-law officers, paramedics, City staff and Citizens for Safe Cycling to try them out for a month. The City has multiple staff who ride bikes as part of their job, and those staff are on the road a lot, and often in the evening. The trial is to see whether these helmets will help make those staff safer.
The helmets have to go back at the end of November, and Rob will be seeking feedback on how they work under different conditions, how easy they are to use, how they charge and any other feedback. They'll be cleaned and likely used as raffle prizes in future SRO events.
I've already worn it for a few rides, including during the day, at dusk, and at night. It took me about 15 minutes to pair the helmet up with the remote, and to affix the signal buttons and remote to my bike. Since then, I've had no issues with turning the helmet on and using it.
Probably one of the lamest confessions you'll hear from a City Councillor is that I pride myself as a driver on my signalling technique. It's important to me to signal every turn, and to use my signals in a way that convey useful information to other drivers and cyclists rather than just being a cursory flash. So far, in just one day, I've already found myself using the signals on the helmet as an extension of that. Geeky as it looks, I've enjoyed having that control over my signals on my handlebars, quickly turned on without removing my hands from their normal position, and then leaving them on for a length of time to be useful to other road users. I still use hand signals (and my other LED lights), but the helmet signals have added to my confidence that people know what I'm intending to do.
At the end of November, I'll post my impressions. The temperature is starting to drop, and I'm curious how it works as we get closer to winter - and maybe even snow?
I'm very supportive of our staff trying these kinds of things. It's always good to see our City staff on bikes to do their jobs. If we can make that safer with the addition of some technology, great!