John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
This world is hell.
A vast sea of glowing, swaying testicles: This could be the horrible future of your commute, if cycle lights known as “Bike Balls” ever catch on.
And there’s evidence they might. The dubious, $20 product has already doubled its Kickstarter goal and its Toronto-based makers are promising to ship by August. It’s a reminder of one of life’s eternal mysteries—why people think it’s the pinnacle of humor to have fake gonads fixed to their stuff.
The inspiration for “Bike Balls” is, presumably, “truck nuts,” which Wikipedia defines thus:
Truck nuts, also known as Truck nutz, truck balls, BumperNuts, BumperBalls, CargoNads, Drive-thru Danglers, Trucksticles, HitchNuggets, Highway Hangers, Balls-on-a-truck, or, as they are known in the United Kingdom, Bumper Bollocks, are plastic accessories for pickup trucks and other vehicles which resemble a pair of dangling testicles. Truck nuts are usually hung for humour or amusement. They are attached under the rear bumper of the vehicle so they are visible from behind.
Oddly enough, the creators of “Bike Balls” are hammering not the funny but the safety aspects. The ersatz testes have a bigger-lit surface area than standard LED accessories, they say. And drivers will be more inclined to notice them because they’re bouncing back and forth. And because, after all, they’re balls.
The cycling world still awaits the journal study supporting the safety stance. What is clearly in the lights’ favor is ease of use. A clip that attaches under the seat means quick installation and removal. And here’s the simple instructions for operation: “Gently squeeze the Balls to turn the light on and switch between the modes. Gently squeeze again to turn the Bike Balls off.”