John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The high-security device also monitors speed, routes, and calories burnt.
San Francisco recently rolled out a bunch of "bait bikes," innocent-looking cycles with hidden transmitters that lead cops to a thief's doorstep.
The French startup Connected Cycle aims to put that crime-fighting power in the hands of consumers. It's made a new, high-security cycle pedal that alerts owners when a bike is moved and broadcasts its location for ass-kicking purposes. (Just kidding, with the heat some of these bad dudes are packing it's best to call the police.)
The smart accessory, appearing at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, shows nice potential. It apparently generates its own power and enjoys its own Internet link, though the details of these features are scarce on the company's website. It also installs in a couple minutes and has a special keyed locking mechanism, so urban scavengers can't pluck it off for quick drug-scoring cash.
But those things alone aren't enough for today's do-everything gadgets. So the pedal also charts riders' speed and route, the inclines of hills they hump, and the estimated calories they burn. These details are sublimated into the cloud, and available for perusal via an app.
The device's makers are billing it as a tracker for stolen property and, for space cases or lushes, a way to remember where you put your bike. It sounds like a handy thing to have in crime-ridden cities—and perhaps one more pricey regret when the entire cycle is swiped, chopped up, and disseminated far and wide for parts.