From smart lights to wearable airbags, the best cycling tech to keep you safe

In an ideal world, cycling would be far a more common method of everday urban and suburban commuting than cars. However, for a few reasons – access to safe cycle routes, safety issues on the roads, or maybe just the fact that the weather in

is miserable a good portion of the year – commuters haven’t turned to two wheels in the sort of numbers many would have hoped.

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Help may be at hand in the form of a growing number of gadgets and tech features to keep cyclists safe. Tech has found its way into most past times, and cycling is no exception. And while some of it is “nice to have” rather than “must have”, there are a few things that could help make your bike journeys a bit safer.

Lights

Probably one of the most important things you can invest in as a cyclist, good lights can mean the difference between you being seen in bad light, and, well, not. You can still buy regular lights, but technology has made it all a bit smarter, allowing you to control the brightness according to the road conditions, building in crash alerts and even warning you when your bike moves but you aren’t with it.

Belfast company See.Sense has been making its smart bike lights for a couple of years, backed by a successful crowdfunding campaign or two. The company has a couple of products to offer including its Icon lights.

They may look like a normal set of lights, but See.Sense’s Ace  is much more than a few blinkers attached to your bike. It’s much smarter than that, using information from your surroundings to gauge when you are most at risk, making your lights shine brighter or faster to make sure you can be seen. It’s all thanks to a bit of artificial intelligence.

Blinkers gives cyclists a very obvious way of signalling their intention to turn

Blinkers gives cyclists a very obvious way of signalling their intention to turn

Another option is Blinkers (
www.blinkers.bike

), which as the name suggests gives cyclists a very obvious way of signalling their intention to turn, a rear light that gets visibly redder when you brake, and a laser light that projects a half circle on the ground to indicate where the cyclist is and how much space they need.

It’s all controlled through a remote that attaches to your handlebars, and works on the idea that the more visible you are, the less likely you are to hear the excuse “I didn’t notice you” when you end up in a one-on-one with a car.

They charge through a USB and you get about 20 hours out of a single charge – enough for a few bike trips at any rate. They’re not as compact as other bike lights, which may be an issue if you like to remove them and take them with you to guard against theft, but it’s a small price to pay.

Navigation

There are plenty of devices out there that will help you find your way when you are out and about on the roads. It really depends on what you want: an all singing, all dancing device that measures everything from your speed and elevation to exactly where you are at any given time, or something that will just point you in the right direction.

Beeline’s follow-the-arrow interface removes the unneeded distractions of Google Maps

Beeline’s follow-the-arrow interface navigates you without the unneeded distractions of Google Maps

If simplicity is what you are after, then Beeline (
beeline.co

) is a good bet. It has a simple follow-the-arrow interface and was designed with cyclists in mind. It links up with a smartphone app so you can set your destination, and then you simply have to attach it to your handlebars before you head off. It ticks a couple of boxes: a sharp backlit display, a clean interface that shows the smart compass, battery life, a speedometer and a clock, and it will take a bit of abuse in the elements. Battery life is about 30 hours, and it charges over USB, so if you ever get stuck you can simply strap a power pack somewhere to your bike and keep on going.Garmin
offers something a little more complex. The navigation expert has a range of devices for cyclists – not counting their smartwatches and activity trackers that will help monitor your actual exercise sessions – that cover everything from the simpler, smaller devices to the full on cycling computers that do everything except massage your legs after a major bike ride.

Garmin Edge tracks your progress but also allows you to find new routes through Garmin Cycle Map

Garmin Edge tracks your progress but also allows you to find new routes through Garmin Cycle Map

A good middle of the road option for touring cyclists is the

Edge Explore

, which will track your progress but also allow you to find new routes through Garmin Cycle Map, which will show you what other paths other cyclists like, and give you turn-by-turn navigation. It can also link up with your smartphone for extra features such as automatic incident detection, which sends your location to an emergency contact if you have a collision, or with other safety devices such as radar and smart bike lights. If you are a bit more invested in your cycling, the Edge 520 or 1030 might be more suitable, or move away from Garmin altogether and invest in a

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt 
Safety Cyclists are more vulnerable than most other road users, so protective gear of some sort is probably in most cyclists’ kit.

There is a debate about bike helmets. On one hand, there is the recent findings from Australian researchers that say wearing one will reduce the likelihood of a serious head injury by up to 70 per cent. On the other, there is research that claims wearing a helmet makes you more likely to indulge in risky moves, and puts people off cycling.

You may not agree with laws making the wearing of cycling helmets compulsory, but

Lumos


gives you an additional reason to wear one: it has lights built in to make you visible to passing motorists. There are 48 LEDs – 38 in the back, 10 bright white in the front – and there is a wireless remote that you can use to activate your turn signals. A test feature also uses the accelerometer to detect when you are slowing down, triggering a warning signal on the helmet.

If you are adamant about cycling helmets not preventing head injuries, maybe this device will get a bit more support; the
Hovding

is essentially a wearable airbag that will detect falls and immediately inflate, protecting the cyclist’s neck and head with an air cushion. It claims to be the world’s safest bike helmet, estimating it is eight times safer than a regular helmet.

It’s not cheap at €299 for the initial Hovding, and €135 for a replacement if you have an accident. But it’s a small price to pay to protect against a potentially life-changing head injury.

There are other ways to improve your safety. Using your morning commute to catch up on podcasts or zoning out with music is something you can take for granted in a car, but as a cyclist, it’s not recommended. You need to be able to hear approaching traffic or have your attention on potential road hazards, and bone conduction headphones can be a solution. No, it’s not an elaborate form of torture – or maybe it is, depending on your taste in music – it’s a form of technology that allows you to hear sound through vibrating the bones in your face. That means you can hear music, but still have your ears free. The headphones sit over your ears touching your cheekbones (in this particular case), so you can listen to music but still be aware of your surroundings.

GoPro Hero 7 provides great video

GoPro Hero 7 provides great video

If anything does happen though, it can help to have the evidence to hand. More and more cyclists are wearing body- or bike-mounted cameras on the streets of Irish cities.

GoPro has a series of cameras that are weatherproof and reasonably robust, and the

Hero 7 silver or black

, while an investment, gives some great video. There are other options too, with

Sony
Panasonic
and
TomTom
also offering action cameras.

The Deeper Lock Pro+ has motion sensors that trigger an alarm when the lock is tampered with, and GPS to track the thief should they actually make off with the bike

The Deeper Lock Pro+ has motion sensors that trigger an alarm when the lock is tampered with, and GPS to track the thief should they actually make off with the bike

Finally, securing the bike itself is an important thing. You don’t need a smart lock as such, but the

Deeper Lock Pro+


, currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, has motion sensors that trigger an alarm when the lock is tampered with, and GPS to track the thief should they actually make off with the bike.

If you want something a little more subtle, the

Sherlock Bike


is a GPS unit that hides inside your bike frame and connects to an app so you can track it. The idea is that thieves won’t realise it’s there until it’s too late. You have to pay a monthly fee after the first two years, but it’s only €3 to keep the GPS connected.

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.irishtimes.com

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Italy’s Alta Badia is the cycling trip that every foodie needs to try

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Unless you’re keen skier, chances are you might not have heard of Alta Badia.

Nestled in the heart of the Dolomite UNESCO World Heritage Site, this popular South ­Tyrolean resort in northern Italy is best known as being a venue for the FIS Ski World Cup for more than 30 years.

But head here in the summer months and you will be stunned by the incredible natural beauty of its breathtaking mountain landscapes and lush valleys, all waiting to be explored by bike or on foot.

Criss-crossed by miles of traffic-free trails, the region has earned Alta Badia the reputation of being one of the world’s best destinations for cycling holidays, whether your steed is a road, mountain bike or e-bike.

In fact, the region is home to the world’s highest e-bike sharing scheme.

 

Pinarello bikes are available at six docking stations over 6,600ft above sea level and each bike has three power settings designed to kick in when you need a boost.

This means even the least confident of cyclists will find riding a bike an uplifting experience.

And it’s free to take your bike by cable car or ski lift up to the mountain tops so you can cycle over the mountain ranges and enjoy the glorious views (two hours’ rental from €22/adults, €15 children aged 14-18).

Pick up e-bikes from the docking station in La Villa, then head up the Piz La Villa cable car for fabulous views of the La Marmolada – the tallest mountain in the Dolomites with its stunning glacier.

Everywhere you find bike shops offering rentals or servicing while lots of the hotels class themselves as ‘bike-friendly’.

What’s more, exploring on two wheels couldn’t be any easier, with a variety of events running across the summer including guided tours and special biking circuits with different difficulties designed for both families and more experienced riders.

But whatever you choose to do, you’re sure to work up an appetite and that was when I discovered food is hugely ­important here in the South Tyrol.

This year, two new Michelin stars were awarded to restaurants in Alta Badia, meaning the 15 sq mile valley now boasts an impressive total of six.

Norbert Niederkofler, chef of the restaurant St Hubertus at Hotel Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano – a town in the valleys known for its fine eateries – earned a third star to join just eight other restaurants in Italy with a trio of the prestigious gongs.

 

The summer season is when the tourist board hosts a menu of culinary events both up in the mountains and down in the valley towns.

This year also saw the new ­Sommelier in the Mountain Hut event – a chance for wine lovers to taste the region’s best wines with a sommelier 6,600ft above sea level (€18pp), along with cooking lessons conducted by the area’s best chefs (€15pp).

But the highlight has to be the Dining Under the Stars experience – a seven-course gourmet feast in the centre of Badia, at the foot of the church of San Leonardo. Priced at €73pp with wines, coffee and liqueurs, it’s well worth it.

Alongside its exceptional cuisine, the South Tyrol is also a historically rich area, thanks to its unique melding of Austrian, Italian and Ladin culture.

The local Ladin people distinguish themselves from their neighbours through their language and cultural appreciation of the landscape, farming and craft work.

A visit to the Santa Croce Sanctuary reveals a historic piece of Ladin architecture.

Starting in San Leonardo in Badia you can hike a nature trail that leads you to the foot of the La Crusc Pilgrimage Church, sitting at the base of the Mt Sasso di Santa Croce, 6,750ft above sea level.

There are also chair lifts that take you to the 600-year-old church with panoramic views over Alta Badia, and the valley towns of Cortina, Val Pusteria and Val Gardena.

And at the centre of this charming area is Corvara, the cradle of tourism in Alta Badia, buzzing with restaurants, bars, patisseries, tea rooms and chocolate shops.

It’s well placed for exploring the nearby towns of La Villa, San Cassiano and Badia and has seven chair lifts and gondolas to take you to the mountains.

Whether you follow the mountain trails on foot or by bike, you will come across mountain huts offering ­traditional food and drink – these are perfect refuelling stops.

Try ‘turtres’ (fried pastries filled with spinach), ‘panicia’ (barley soup), ‘bales da ciocie’ (bacon dumplings) or ‘Kaiserschmarrn’ (shredded pancake and jam).

For a refreshing and lightly alcoholic treat order a ‘Hugo’ (prosecco, sparkling spring water and elderflower cordial).

Some even offer accommodation if you’re tempted to stay the night and wake up to a sunrise like no other.

 

The Gardenacia Hut, which can only be reached by hiking from the top of the Gardenacia Chair Lift from La Villa, has comfortable rooms and a sauna with panoramic views of the Dolomites and the surrounding meadows (B&B from €44pp per night. Shower coins €3. Bag transfer service available for €20. gardenacia.it).

I was more than happy with my base, the family-run four-star Hotel Col Alto in Corvara, and its top-notch spa which has a pool and steam rooms.

As I eased my tired muscles at the end of an exhilarating day of cycling, I was already planning to change my next summer holiday from the beach to something 6,000ft or so higher.

BOOK THE HOLIDAY

Inghams offer a seven-night stay on half-board at the 4* Hotel Col Alto in Corvara, Alta Badia, Italy, from £866pp based on two sharing next summer. Includes flights from Gatwick, Heathrow, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Manchester or Edinburgh and transfers.

Book via tour operator

Inghams

or call 01483 791116.

For tourist information visit the

Alta Badia tourist board website

or the

Italian tourist board website

.

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.mirror.co.uk

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