My partner and I are creating this bicycle safety system. Our teacher rides a recumbent cycle to work every day, and after he was involved in a serious accident that hospitalized him for several days, we decided to improve the system he used before. We wanted to improve the flag and bike in several ways, first by improving color, reflectivity, and motion, and then incorporating solar-powered lights.
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Step 1: Movement Progress
One of the components of our project was causing motion of the bike flag in order to better draw the eye, so we conducted several experiments to maximize movement in the wind. Our results indicated that the spiral pattern pictured here, which we created by sticking a sheet of duct tape to some painters' sheeting and cutting a spiral.
Step 2: Color Progress
To improve the general visibility of the flag we're building, we wanted to make the flag the most eye-catching color possible. We conducted a peripheral vision experiment to determine which color (of our list of red, yellow, orange, white, and green) is the most identifiable at the extremest angles from straight ahead. We had our subject sit at a table, looking straight forward, while we slowly moved a colored card in a circle centered on the subject's head, staring from directly to the left and right. This way we could tell which color was the most obvious from the farthest distance to the side. Our surprising results showed red as the winner- so we used red for our newest prototype.
Step 3: Reflectivity Progress
We haven't started work on reflectivity yet, but we have some ideas. We wanted to implemet some wide-angle solid-state retroreflectors (regular bike reflectors) to help night visibilty, and some chromed surfaces to increase daytime attention. We added tin foil to the back of one of our spinning prototypes earlier this year, and it seems to work fairly well in testing.
Step 4: Solar Light System Ideas
Ultimately, we plan to add a full solar power system to our teacher's bike. We want to start with a 5-watt solar panel, which, when in sunlight, directly charges an external battery pack. This battery pack has two USB outputs, one of which will be a phone or GPS charging cable, and the other will power an Arduino, which will have the lights wired through it.