AMSTERDAM: The Netherlands has launched its first-ever “intelligent bicycle”, fitted with an array of electronic devices to help bring down the high accident rate among elderly cyclists in the bicycle-mad country.
A commercial-available smart bicycle is expected to be on the market in the next two years and should sell for between 1,700 Euros ($1,800) to 3,200 Euros per bicycle.
Developed for the government by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), the intelligent bicycle prototype runs on electricity, and sports forward-looking radar mounted below the handlebars and a camera in the rear mudguard.
The forward and rearward detection devices on the test bike are linked through an onboard computer with a vibrating warning system installed in the bicycle’s saddle and handlebars to alert cyclists to impending danger.
The saddle vibrates when other cyclists approach from behind, while the handlebars do the same when obstacles appear ahead.
Accidents often happen when cyclists look behind them or get a fright when they are passed at high speed, said Maurice Kwakkernaat, one of TNO’s research scientists involved in the project.
Kwakkernaat said the devices would be useful for cyclists propelled along by the bicycle’s electrical motor, which can reach a top speed of 25 kilometres per hour (16 mph).
More and more elderly people are using a bicycle, not only for short distances, but also for longer distances, Dutch Environment and Infrastructure Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen told AFP.
She said that his type of bicycle is truly needed in the Netherlands because it will help us down bring the number of elderly people who are injured every year and allow them to continue enjoy cycling.
Last year, 184 cyclists died in the country, of which 124, or 67% were older than 65, according to the Centrals Statistics Office (CBS). The year before, 200 cyclists died, the overwhelming majority of victims also being elderly.
The current prototype weighs a hefty 25 kilogrammes (55 pounds) but researchers are working on making the on-board systems of the smart bike smaller.