John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
The "Loud Bicycle" prototype can blast careless drivers with a 30-second trumpet that's as loud as a rock concert.
I can think of few things that would make a hothead driver go from zero to Frothing Nuclear Rage than a cyclist blowing a loud horn at him for 30 seconds straight, the maximum duration of the "Loud Bicycle" prototype.
But if used sparingly, this strident horn could help prevent a few unnecessary injuries and deaths. That the angle that the device's inventors, Jonathan and Andrew Lansey, are playing up in their Kickstarter campaign to get "Loud Bicycle" off the ground.
Jonathan, a research engineer who commutes to Boston, was inspired to build "Loud Bicycle" after a friend got drilled by a car. She made it out of the hospital in one piece, but Jonathan began to think the crash wouldn't have happened if she just could've announced her presence in a trumpeting way. He couldn't find the equivalent of a car horn for a bicycle on the market, so he went to the worktable and banged out this acoustic assault weapon – unofficial motto, "I let cars share the road."
Bicycling in traffic "can be frightening, and sometimes dangerous," Jonathan explains in a promo video (see below). "Drivers often feel like bikes come flying out of nowhere.... The fear of cars, a helpless feeling, it actually stops a lot of people from biking in their cities." The "Loud Bicycle" is meant to give cyclists an edge in hazardous streets by both stopping drivers on a dime and teaching them (as per the device's website) that "their driving habits can be dangerous for cyclists."
What's this hulked-up horn sound like? Much like the beeeep! of a compact car, with both high and low notes at a decibel level equivalent to a loud rock concert. Bikers can activate the 1.4-pound device by pressing a button on the handlebars, which is connected with a wire to "Loud Bicycle" mounted on the lower frame.
The Lanseys are hoping to raise $43,000 to fund their project by January. While it in fact is not the only car-sounding bike horn out there – one U.K. company sells an even-louder "Hornet," and another vends a honker that a satisfied customer says works "marvelously on stationary groups of chatting ladies with leashed dogs blocking the entire path" – it could possibly find a place in America, where bicycling fatalities are on the rise.