What is it? The iLumaware Shield is a taillight that also serves as an amplifier for the radar signals that are sent out from newer cars equipped with accident avoidance systems. The idea is that even if the driver isn't paying close attention, then at least the car itself will recognize the cyclist and take whatever precautions the accident avoidance system is supposed to take. As it is, a bicycle is practically invisible to accident avoidance radar, but the iLumaware page says that the device increases the signal bouncing back to the radar system, making the bicycle seem "larger" than it is, and increasing the likelihood that it will be detected. The taillight isn't overly large, or too terrifically cumbersome-looking - though it does suffer a bit from the "dork factor."
Is it a bad idea? I don't think so. As a routine bicycle commuter who spends many mornings riding in the dark before sunrise, I am very conscious of the need to be visible. And the problem of distracted driving keeps getting worse. When a cell phone addled driver is trying to read or send a text, all the reflective clothing and taillights in the world don't make a difference in a cyclist being seen, so one could argue that any device that counters the problem might be worth trying.
It does have certain flaws, however. First and foremost, it only helps amplify a cyclist's signal when being approached from behind. Certainly, being hit-from-behind is a major fear of many road-going cyclists, and while I can't definitively prove it, I believe that the threat of that type of collision is growing (again, I blame the spread of so-called smart phones in the hands of dumb humans). There are some statistics on the iLumaware Kickstarter ad that claim there were 35,000 collisions between cars and cyclists in the U.S. in 2015, and that the majority were hit from behind. I don't know where they got those figures, but they don't seem to be supported by the most recent study I've seen on the subject: the Every Bicyclists Counts study from 2014, by the League of American Bicyclists. Still - a legitimate concern, but not the only one. There are lot's of other types of car-bike collisions that are very common but would not be helped by the device - such as right-hooks, left-hooks, broadsides, and more. Also, it only works if a driver happens to be in a car that has the accident-avoidance radar system -- a growing number, perhaps, but still a fairly small percentage.
|What makes it so effective at reducing injuries is that if anyone|
were required to wear it, they'd probably never ride a bike again.
But then, that's probably the point.
Pardon the momentary diversion - but these both came to mind and seemed relevant:
I don't want to come down too hard on the radar-enhancer. Like I said, it's an interesting idea. I just wish like hell it weren't necessary.