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Can You Make Drivers Pay Attention to Cyclists?

Can You Make Drivers Pay Attention to Cyclists?

A cyclist rides next to cars along Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. Photo: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images At the far end of a parking…

Thursday, Oct 20

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A cyclist rides next to cars along Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. Photo: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At the far end of a parking lot in Oceanside, California, the fog off the Pacific still thick in the afternoon air, I stood gripping the handlebars of a fancy road bike and waited for my cue. About 50 yards away, a cluster of automotive designers, software engineers, bike manufacturers, and journalists looked on, eating energy bars, drinking bottled water, and nonchalantly watching me as I prepared to cheat death. My instructions were simple: ride directly into the path of an oncoming car, a black SUV I could see approaching to my right. As I pedaled to meet it, an alert similar to the one a phone displays to announce a text appeared on the little computer mounted to my handlebars. This was my notice that a vehicle, ostensibly one that would hit me, was approaching. In the SUV, the driver received a similar alert; a pleasant-sounding chime rang out as a bright-yellow bike icon flashed on the instrument panel with an arrow signaling the direction I was heading in. All of this happened in a matter of seconds — my noticing the driver, the driver noticing me. With the car now a few yards away, I cringed slightly and kept pedaling as the driver stopped. I had survived. Experiment over. After I finished my trial, I was swarmed with questions from the gallery of observers: Could I see the notification when […]

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