Our mission is to promote the bicycle as a practical and equal member of the roadway by providing riders with a bicycle light which makes you more visible and identifiable as a cyclist, while also being a novel/cool/beautiful addition to your bike. However, we have always had a bigger goal than just making a great bicycle light, but I don’t think we ever really put out there our bigger thinking behind this project.
Our greater goal is to get more people to ride bikes as a practical means of transportation. A study done in New Orleans found that when the city built more bike lanes, more people started riding. This may sound obvious but I think it’s an important idea. The whole, “if you build it they will come” concept - when you provide riders with the infrastructure that supports riding more safely, suddenly more people decide to ride bikes. The motivation behind our project parallels this idea. By providing riders with a bicycle light more effective than using solely front and rear lights (you should still use your front and rear lights in addition to our wheel lights), perhaps we can encourage more people to bike and commute.
Something we didn’t really anticipate which I find fascinating is the reactions we get to the lights when we ride around Pittsburgh. People constantly will yell or point, and drivers have even pulled up and thanked us because we were more visible. But the most interesting thing is that more often than not people will yell “nice bike” instead of “nice lights”. This may seem like a technicality but I think it’s important. The single largest issue with cycling in the US, in my opinion, is the attitude that non bikers have towards cyclists. There is this underlying hatred, or at the very least annoyance people have towards bike commuters. This attitude influences public policy, the lack of biking infrastructure, road rage incidents, and general war between the bike and non-bike camps. Ignorant and single minded people such as Dorothy Rabinowitz fuel this war and only set back society.
The ultimate accomplishment for us would be if these glowing wheels could perhaps help drivers, pedestrians and non-bikers to see bikes in a more positive light. When you see these wheel lights on the road, the novelty of it makes you stop and think for a split second about a bike in a positive way, or at the very least, not in a negative way. When most drivers or pedestrians notice or think about bikes it is because they have just witnessed a biker run a stop sign, ride against a one way street, speed down a sidewalk or cut somebody off. Our hope is that these lights can literally help people see bikes, to avoid hitting them with cars, doors, or fists, but also to help people see bikes as an equal and technologically contemporary member of the roadway.