Sunday, April 27, 2008


Here's an entertaining idea from those wacky Dutch!


Dutch Cyclists Want Airbags on the Outside of Cars

Posted April 24, 2008 by nick
Found in: Automobiles, This and That

Did you know that 60 lives a year could be saved if they just stayed out of the way of those fast moving machines we like to call “cars?”

Well, that’s according to one Dutch study, and it’s not known if the study is only taking into account the region or world or city block, but the point being, people are getting run over.

Now Dutch cyclists are lobbying for automakers to put inflatable airbags on the hood of cars, or exterior airbags, to cut back the number of deaths and cut into the reported 1,500 bicycle/car related injuries every year. One company has already taken a step in the direction. Sweden’s Autoliv has begun to put inflatable bags on their cars that inflates from the bottom of the windscreen.

Now, you know that I'm all for increased safety for cyclists. And while collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles account for the bulk of fatalities, simple falls are responsible for far more injuries. So what could be done to reduce the risks from simple falls?

(Image from webBikeWorld)

This could easily be adapted to a bicycle and would probably mitigate the effects of a front-end collision. It would help if you dropped the front wheel into a sewer grate too. Some would object to the added weight but it probably wouldn't be more than a couple of pounds. But what of the rider himself? Funny you should ask.

(Images from webBikeWorld)

The jacket has a CO2 cartridge that inflates air chambers on impact, protecting the rider's neck and spine. Granted, it's not very fashionable as much as it's utilitarian, but I think we can rely on those nutty folks in, say, Copenhagen to re-interpret it in leather or faux fur, along with matching purses and stylish footwear. Maybe a little something for the ladies too.

Now, I know you're thinking that while personal safety is a priority, the prospect of being slowly broiled and marinated in your own juices inside a jacket like this during the typical Oklahoma summer probably isn't an especially pleasant thought. When daytime highs are around 100F (37.7C) wearing more than a single layer of clothing is almost unbearable. I rode home once when it was 115F (46.1C) and I would have gladly ridden naked except for the possibility of being cooked in the midday sun. (Yes, I know. That's an unpleasant mental image too!) When it's that hot, clothing is mainly about protection from the sun.

So, while I think that attaching air bags to the outside of cars, to the top tube of bicycles, and to the cyclists themselves is a good start, there are a few ideas that could provide even better safety enhancements for all road users.

At first, I wondered about the possibility of constructing motor vehicles from Nerf material or even Styrofoam. Both of them, however, put us right back in the clutches of the international oil companies, something to avoid if possible.

(Image of "The Homer" from CRMDevelopment)

....and then it hit me! Paper mache! Think of it!

(Image of art car at Burning Man from nmpproducts)

A thin layer of paper mache would crumple under impact like, well, paper. This would absorb and dissipate the energy and make crashes more survivable. Cars would weigh less and use less fuel. People would start reading newspapers again because they'd need the paper to patch their cars. It's so easy to fix that even a second-grader could do it, and in fact, we could put those children to more productive work rather than wasting their time and taxpayer's money on education. We just need to be rid of those pesky child labor laws. They'd probably work cheap too. Car theft would be a thing of the past as chop shops were put out of business by second grade body shops.

Even better, we could replace all that road furniture with paper mache. Guard rails, telephone poles, curbing - all could be made from paper. We'd realize the American dream of ending unemployment and we'd make America a better place.

I'm telling you, it's the wave of the future!



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