On more than one occasion, Jonathan Lansey has come pretty close to getting clipped by a car that either didn’t see him, or hear him yell out, while riding his bike in the Boston-area.
Since conventional bells and fog horns have little effect on a driver’s attention when cyclists try to give advanced warning, Lansey, a mechanical and aerospace engineer, decided it was time to think like a four-wheeled vehicle and create a car horn for his bike commute.
“I have experience yelling to drivers, but it’s just not quite as effective,” said Lansey. “There is a delay when the driver is processing the sound. When you honk a car horn, though, they react immediately.”
Since whistles and sirens aren’t allowed because they create confusion, Lansey developed the “Loud Bicycle” car horn, which mimics a vehicle’s noise.
The “Loud Bicycle” works by attaching it to the frame of a bike and then “honking” for up to thirty seconds to warn drivers.
The device lets out the same pitch and sound as a car’s horn and reaches 112 decibels.
“I think this has a pretty far reaching effect. When you honk a horn, everyone pays attention,” said Lansey, adding he thinks it will make an impact on drivers’ perspectives.
Lansey is trying to raise money for his project through Kickstarter.com, a crowd-funding site, to get the “Loud Bicycle” horn out to more riders and improve street safety.
Already, hundreds of “backers” have showed support for the design idea and Lansey still has 33 days to reach his $50,000 goal.
“We are up to 112 backers, and almost $9,000 and we started last Thursday night,” he said of the instant interest in the product.
A former Boston University student, Lansey said he is familiar with the stretch of road where two BU students were recently killed in bike-related accidents in the last month.
While Boston officials contemplate ways to make the Hub’s overall bike infrastructure a safer place for cyclists, Lansey hopes his horn approach will serve as a somewhat immediate fix on some roads.
According to his project’s website:
Drivers react to car horns before they even know where the sound is coming from. A driver that gets beeped at while backing out of a driveway for example, will immediately brake. These kinds of reflexive reactions are perfect to keep cyclists safe. Some motorists don’t realize that their driving habits can be dangerous for cyclists. Drivers will learn to be more aware of cyclists after a Loud Bicycle horn is honked at them.
During his own bike-experiences, Lansey has had to use the horn as a means to inform drivers that they are about to cut him off.
Once during a trek through town, an SUV was making a left hand-turn in front of Lansey as he approached the vehicle.
“My hand reached for the handle bar and I honked and they stopped. I’m almost positive I would have been in an accident otherwise,” he said.
Lansey has been utilizing the prototype of his design for the last nine-months, and so far, it has been “amazingly reliable.”
“At first I thought it would be a cool idea and worth trying, but when I started using it, it was clear it was so effective,” he said. “The battery can last several months, which is a huge improvement over similar devices.”
Below is a video of the proposed project: