Navigating yourself from A to B by bicycle can be testing when you're travelling on busy city streets where map checks aren't practical and all the roads look the same. That's certainly something the country girl who spent over an hour trying to travel less than 10 miles on her first week at Total Women's Cycling [yours truly] doesn't need to be told.
Some of us just arrive at the office apologising for being late and damning all the one way streets and buses - but city cyclist Sasha Afanasieva decided to invent a solution.
Afanasieva created a simple navigation system which would display left/right directions to cyclists via LED lights on a bicycle bell interface. The bell is linked to the user's SmartPhone, which can be safely stowed in a pocket or elsewhere whilst a supporting app calculates the route.
Not only that, when hazards are noted by the cyclist, they can ring the bell which will send a report to the mobile app. This information will be used for future journeys and will also be shared with cycling infrastructure planners to help them develop better urban landscapes.
The winner of the IBM and Tech.London Smart City Challenge 2015 and part of the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre Harwell, Blubel has grabbed the attention of city planners and the design world and has been supported in launching its Kickstarter page.
Afanasieva is looking for £30,000 and has already collected close to £5,000 in pledges, with a basic bell and mounts costing £50.
Speaking about the product, the designer said: “I came up with the idea for Blubel as a result of my own cycling experiences in London. Initially I wanted to get fit, so I started commuting by bike and it became my favourite part of the day; it beats public transport whatever the weather! But there were also times I found it incredibly stressful – losing my bearings, getting lost or ending up on really busy roundabouts with no easy way to check the route.
"I was also amazed at how collaborative the cycling community in London is; sharing tips and information on forums and communities, and even helping strangers on the road. This got me thinking about how fantastic it would be to have a navigation device that pooled this knowledge to find the safest routes for cyclists of all levels.
"Cycling transforms our cities and has the capacity to reduce pollution and make people fitter and happier. I believe that the key to unlocking this potential is through making cycling easy and stress-free for everyone. Blubel aims to do just that!"
You can check out the various product options, or just find out more, here.