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Change your life light your bike - My CBC interview on bicycle lights

Submitted by Roland on Wed, 2012-11-21 23:41


tl;dr: I ride with far too many bicycle lights: 4 front facing, 3 rear facing 5 side facing. To be seen, you only need 2 lights if you ride in the city of Vancouver, but if you want to see, you also need a helmet mounted light and if you want bike light overkill :-) you can add a fancy hub dynamo and spoke persistence of vision lights.

Yesterday I was interviewed by CBC's Margaret Gallagher about bicycle lighting. Here's a blog post with the missing details since my interview will probably be edited and quite short since it will be part of a piece with other people such as a police officer and somebody from MEC (to be aired tomorrow 22 November 2012 at 7:40a.m. on CBC Radio 1 88.1 FM in Vancouver)

If Lighting for bicycles had an Olympics, here's how it would be for those riding in the city of Vancouver

(assuming you bicycle on lit streets in the city of Vancouver and not in the forest or other unlit space; I know nothing about bicycling in Burnaby, Richmond and the rest of the suburbs; if your lights are blinking please don't point them in pedestrians' eyes!)

Bronze Medal

MEC quattro on front, plasma on back, $30 (These lights are purely to be seen; they won't help you see!)

Silver Medal

Bronze plus front, rear and side helmet mounted headlamp e.g. Light and Motion Visibility 360, $190 (this is great solution to see where your head is pointing)

Gold Medal

Bronze and silver plus a dynamo hub with front and rear lights available from The World Cycles, Kissing Crows Cyclery, Dream Cycle, Bikes for All,etc.
hub dynamo info: (Shimano makes them too but the Sturmey archer design dates back to 1936 in England! it was just made lighter and better when the Taiwanese company Sun Race bought Sturmey Archer in the 2000s). These hub dynamos unlike the awkward bottle dynamos you grew up don't rub on the wheel and are very efficient and have a "stand light" feature so they stay on for a few minutes after you stop! All powered by your bicycling so no batteries required and quite powerful with the latest LED lights like the ones from Lumotec and E3.

The best lights for hub dyamos are German:

This is what I have: (Lumotec IQ CYO front; and the matching rear light)
I dream of someday owing the even brighter ones from e3

But of course my setup has even more bicycle lights, in fact it's verging on overkill, but I am quite happy with the amount of light

  • In addition to the lights from the Gold Medal level, I also ride with lights on my spokes, so called persistence of vision lights. I ride with the Mini Monkey Light which displays 25 8 bit patterns including Space Invaders which I got from Kickstarter. But you can get them from good bike shops here in the city or directly from MonkeyLectric in Seattle
  • But wait there's more. I also ride with the 500 Lumen Front Light Urban 500 (the Urban 500 is no longer available but you can get the Urban 550 which emits 550 lumens)

In the future I will have turn signals and perhaps more!

My Quantified Bicycling Life

Submitted by Roland on Fri, 2011-04-01 08:02

dailymile bicycling stats feb-march 2011
I don't believe in the Quantified Self fad but I do believe in tracking how far I go bicycling. And the Cyclemeter iPhone App / Daily Mile social "workout" community does a great job as you can see in the screenshot above. I have turned off the CycleMeter feature which tells you if you are are "worse" or "better" than median or average because I don't believe in "racing" especially when commuting to work by bicycling; better to enjoy your bike ride rather than yak shaving about a few seconds here and there. Sure would be nice if there was a standard to share data among bicycling tracking apps so I could see all of my bicycling which is spread across Sports Tracker (700+ "workouts"), RunKeeper (176 "workouts") and now Cyclemeter (86 "workouts").

Next up in April or May: try the new iPhone or Android version of SportsTracker

Why I have stopped using ShoZu, Sports Tracker and the N82 and use N900 + PixelPipe + RunKeeper on iPhone 3G

Submitted by Roland on Wed, 2010-08-11 01:44

Until I get an N8, I have stopped using ShoZu and Nokia Sports Tracker am using the N900 + PixelPipe + RunKeeper on the iPhone 3G. Why?

  1. None of my friends use Nokia Sports Tracker (On Nokia Sports Tracker, I recorded over 700 activities (90% bicycling, the rest cross country skiing)  and many people use it but not one of my friends around the world uses it on a regular basis anymore)
  2. A fair amount of my friends and people in Vancouver use RunKeeper
  3. Up until today despite many attempts, Nokia has been unsuccessful in creating a popular social network which is what Nokia Sports Tracker and RunKeeper are. And although I love Nokia Sports Tracker and I'll try it on the N8 in the future, I doubt Sports Tracker now that it's spun off Nokia will be successful! Love to be proven wrong
  4. All in all the N900 camera is better than the N82 (except for the flash which I don't use)
  5. I don't have to carry my Bluetooth GPS, the N900 GPS is good enough
  6. PixelPipe is not nearly as great as ShoZu but it's good enough

What's wrong with RunKeeper

  1. On the iPhone 3G, it doesn't multi-task so if I get an alert or phone call, the tracking stops. Hopefully fixed on iPhone 4
  2. There's no way to lock the touch screen so it's easy to inadvertently stop RunKeeper while you are bicycling. Of course this wasn't an issue with N82 which is an old school candybar phone without touch screen

PixelPipe observations

  1. No connectivity re-transmission unlike Shozu. So as I blogged before, if you lose connectivity in the middle of PixelPipe uploading  your photos you have to manually figure out which photos were uploaded and upload only the missing ones. This is very painful for a crazy :-) person like me who uploads dozens of photos ; not so painful for the normal person who only uploads 1 or 2 photos per day
  2. No automatic tagging on a per account basis. In ShoZu you can set it up to tag differently based on which flickr account you upload to
  3. No multiple accounts unlike ShoZu
  4. No way to upload friends only or family only i.e. no way to use flickr permissions like ShoZu does only public or private. A pain if you again are a crazy :-) person like me and use flickr permissions  like "friends only" or "family only" which I gather less than 1% of flickr users do
  5. No way to select multiple photos unlike ShoZu. This is a Maemo limitation I guess since there is no system UI gesture to select multiple photos or files. You have to laboriously select one photo at a time until all are selected.

Nokia Bicycle Cradle is a nifty tool for taking bicycle wheel POV photos and videos

Submitted by Roland on Mon, 2008-11-24 00:38

Thanks to fellow Nokia Open Lab 2008 participant, Glenn Letham, for the Nokia Bicycle Cradle. Got it on Wed, mounted it on the bike yesterday and have done lots of photos and a few videos (one is embedded below). It seems the Nokia Bicycle Cradle was designed for GPS tracking, specifically for Nokia Sports Tracker and viNes but with a bit of jury rigging it's a fun tool for taking videos and photos from the handlebars of your bicycle (albeit with a not too useful view of your wheel and the road; it would be superb if we could tilt it really high or if the cradle was re-designed for on the bicycle video and photo taking). Apparently this handy cradle is NOT generally available. C'mon Nokia make this cool accessory available to all please! (And if anybody knows a similar thing for the iPhone please let me know!)

N96 World Tour will come to Vancouver where it was designed (fingers crossed!)

Submitted by Roland on Wed, 2008-10-22 03:10

GorillaPod+DT-22+N95+Bike=fun - IMG_5948

Steve Rocks (literally since he's a bass player! And figuratively since he's an articulate and very cool person!) ! Met him in Finland at Nokia Open Lab 2008. I applied to the program so, "Global Omnipresent Delivery Services" (GODS hat tip to Neal Stephenson) and Nokia willing, the N96 will make its way to Vancouver (apparently the N96 was designed/integrated in Vancouver) for me to take it on a bicycle and have my devious (ha ha !) ways

QUOTE [From N96 World Tour starts here! — Steve Lawson: Bass 2.0 — the soundtrack to the day you wish you’d had]

A few weeks back I was contacted about a project involving the Nokia N96 - the idea was to send one round the world, getting various people to use it, upload video and photos, add apps to the phone itself, leave stuff on it, basically put it through its paces and tell a story… It’s a great fun idea, and I’m the first one to get it! So I’ve got a brand new lovely N96 to play with for a week or so.


Streaming Video Vancouver June 2008 Critical Mass

Submitted by Roland on Mon, 2008-07-07 03:02

I rode in the June 2008 Vancouver Critical Mass bike ride (check out my Mobile Muse Channel with pictures, videos and text as well as my partial Nokia Sports Tracker map of the route as well as flickr pictures which I can't get into the Mobile Muse Channel since there's no RSS feed) and streamed video live using Qik from my Nokia N95, like I did for the Vancouver Car Free Festival. Only this time I didn't use WiMax just Edge

Some observations and comments:

  1. The ride is quite the phenomenon. As a 3-5 days a week bicycle commuter; it was quite liberating to "take over" the streets and cycle with impunity (if you were in the middle, not so in the back) and be a 1st class citizen (for once!) on the road rather than feeling the need to maintain a constant vigil for cars not seeing you and running you over. Is this a form of civil disobedience or are we just Critical Massh*les? To be honest, I fluctuate between both.
  2. Lots of people taking digital photographs and using their cellphones and taking video but nobody doing this live. Imagine 5 years from now when everything is live!
  3. My Io Gear power unit Nokia N Series power connector is flakey! Aaaargh, too late to return it too.
  4. The N95 really isn't designed for streaming video live over a cellphone network from a bicycle. The S60 interface is designed to be used with one hand while standing still and the phone itself is not designed to be mounted on a bicycle. I would love for Nokia to build a mobile cellphone streaming device but realistically making my own with something like the Bug from Bug Labs (hopefully I'll get mine soon) will (eventually) be the way to go

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