Design Engineering
Showcase

Blink

Course
Design Engineering MEng
Supervisor
Dr Mazdak Ghajari
Theme
Modern Motion

Every year, thousands of cyclists are involved in accidents with other road vehicles, sometimes resulting in serious or even fatal injuries. Blink is a modular indicator system, which took inspiration from motorbike indicators. It enables riders to supplement their hand signals and continue to inform other road traffic of their intended direction of travel after they have returned their hands to the handle bars. Blink also enables riders to keep their hands by their brakes for longer and greatly improves the cyclists’ viability during the evening and night.

 — Blink

The project was inspired by witnessing and hearing about friends at university who had unfortunately been involved in cycling accidents around London. After some initial research I discovered that 20% of current 4th year students in Design Engineering at Imperial had been involved in a cycling accident with either a car, bus, lorry or van over the past 18 months.

As a keen cyclist myself I wanted to see if there was an easy way to reduce the probability of a cycling accident occurring on public roads. There are numerous products available to consumers that profess to help increase a cyclists’ visibility, chief among which are reflective jackets and bike lights. Reflective jackets are rarely used by the majority of cyclists for various reasons. For example, in the majority of weather conditions they make the cyclist hot and sweaty, not ideal if you are going to meet friends, work or to university. Conversely, bike lights are smaller, easier to put away once at one’s destination and don’t impact on the rider’s body temperature, and the cyclist’s personal style. These reasons contribute to why over 80% of cyclists interviewed used bike lights and only 6% used a form of reflective clothing.

 — Blink

As the project developed, it became apparent that hand signalling as a cyclist has many drawbacks. The most obvious of which is that when signalling with an arm the rider loses 50% of their braking ability, and their control over their bicycle is also impeded. To counteract this, it was observed that the vast majority of cyclists will signal with their arm for a few seconds on the initial approach to the junction before returning both arms to the handlebars before braking and negotiating said junction. This leaves most road users unaware of the cyclist’s intended direction of travel during the most crucial stage of their navigation of the junction, and means that very few road users, primarily only the vehicle behind the cyclist, know which way the bike will be turning.

As a motorcyclist, I am used to indicating at junctions on my motorbike, and noticed an opportunity to take inspiration from a system known to reduce motorbike accidents, and to implement it on bicycles. The goal of the prototype was to create a robust and functional device that could be easily produced and tested with the limited tools available during the COVID-19 UK lockdown. Two fully functioning devices were developed over the course of a week before testing was carried out. In total, 17 individuals tested the devices, some only for an hour, but others for up to 5 days.

 — Blink

The indicator system is comprised of 5 parts. The left and right wireless control buttons, the main light housing, the battery compartment and the seat post bracket as seen in the image below. The light housing magnetically attaches to the battery compartment, which is locked in place by the seat post bracket. This enables an easy and efficient way of attaching and removing the “valuable” part of the system.

 — Blink

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