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Car company hopes bulk data will improve bicyclist safety

Car company hopes bulk data will improve bicyclist safety

With so many automakers facing scandals over safety defects, bad press seems to be the norm for this industry (just look at our post from last week about the Takata air bag recall). Even in good times, most companies are content to simply design and release new vehicles that are slight improvements over what's already on the market.

For these reasons and more, a new project recently announced by Ford is getting some attention. Rather than focusing on cars, Ford has decided to focus on bicycles. And rather than seeking to reinvent or improve upon current bikes, the automaker says it wants its "Info Cycle" project to collect data that could ultimately make the streets safer for bicyclists and drivers alike.

Pedestrian and bicycle accidents are a major problem here in California and across much of the nation. Urban infrastructure was designed around automobile traffic, so the safety of non-motorized travelers has always been, at best, an afterthought. Thankfully, that mindset is changing, albeit slowly.

Ford's Info Cycle project is being piloted in California and will likely be scaled up over time. According to news sources, Ford is equipping certain bicycles with a sensor kit to collect data as bicyclists ride. The information gathered includes things like speed and location, but also things like the temperature, pedal speed, the amount of ambient light and altitude. The software behind the sensors is open-source, which means that the data could be analyzed and used by any number of groups in any number of ways.

The specific data applications aren't yet clear, but some have suggested that the data could be used to improve street design, plan bicycle lanes and even to determine where accidents are most likely to occur. In this data-driven age, technology could be used to improve travel on a vehicle that is decidedly low-tech.

Even before Ford's new project was announced, many avid bicyclists have already been incorporating digital technology into their rides. Bicycle- and helmet-mounted video cameras can preserve valuable evidence if the rider is ever hit by a car or truck - especially if the driver flees the scene.

If you've been involved in a serious bicycle or pedestrian accident, please don't wait too long to take action. You can better understand your rights and legal options by speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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