We all need a hero in our life, even if it isn’t Spiderman or the Hulk from Marvel. Does cycling need a Helmet Hero?
The HornIT appears to mount with a cateye type bracket, at first this was worrying as they are notoriously poor. At a second look it appears to use a slightly different tightening mechanism which is an improvement. It tightens via a hex key which appears to be very solid and the rubber grip of the strap allows the bracket to hold well even on polished metal.
It runs off 2 AAA batteries and I’m told that this will last around a year for some users. The horn was still effective after 6 months if used to power 6 x 1 second bursts every day. The battery compartment is underneath the device and is accessible by a Philips screw.
One of the most attractive features of the HornIT is the separate trigger switch, this allows flexible mounting of the product whilst still allowing the user to trigger the device whilst their hand is in control of the brakes. This is a very important factor, such a device should not impede your ability to come to a safe and controlled stop if required, a warning device will not always be heard or prevent someone from doing something you don’t want them to do.
I have noticed that it is possible to catch the trigger cable with your hand and pull it out without knowledge, it is also a little bit tricky to put the trigger back in whilst moving.
The switch it’s self is made from a stretchy rubber that allows it to be mounted to any part of the handle bars, I had no issues stretching it around the hoods on my road bikes.
There are two modes on the HornIT, one rated at 140db which uses a dual tone which can sound a little bit like a bird tweeting. To me this is more of an annoying sound and not one that would instantly grab my attention as something dangerous is coming my way (as a typical horn sound would). The second mode is 130db and is just a single tone. Much more to my liking, the sound is still loud and I feel still suffers the same issue of not sounding like a normal horn. You can switch between modes by pressing a button on the back of the device. Two downsides I see to this, you can’t change the mode from the trigger, so to change mode you must move you hand back to the device. There is also no way to tell which mode you are in without sounding the device. This can be annoying if you want to use the two different modes for different reasons, as it is easy to forget which mode you are in.
The clear rival to the HornIT is the AirZound, a product which is already very popular with cyclists after an audible warning device to other road users. The HornIT has many advantages over the AirZound, such as being small, compact, running on batteries, and a remote trigger. Where as the only advantage the AirZound has is a more true horn sound. I found I was pumping up my AirZound several times a week when I used one, and I have to say the ease of use, the fact that it is small, runs on batteries, is about the size of a light and has a remote trigger, the HornIT has to be the winner out of the two.
As a note, it is a good idea to read the instructions on this and do as it says. I.E. Don’t use this indoors, it really is very loud and does make you deaf!
I would like to start of by saying thank you to the usual suspects, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n, Danny of Cyclists in the City and of course the London Cycling Campaign for organising another great protest ride, which despite the forecasted weather, had plenty of cyclists attending. And whilst there where a few niggles with the police and how the pack was being split up, thank you to them for helping marshal the event and keeping everyone safe.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to cycle this event due to a knee injury, instead I was walking on foot with my camera in hand taking photos. A few of those photos can be seen on flickr. The turnout was certainly huge, I’ve heard numerous numbers thrown around, and as a bystander, I can certainly say it was above 1,000 cyclists. Watching the cyclists coming over westminster bridge was just amazing, the line went on for ages!
This was of course on the eve of the parliamentary debate about cycling safety. The Times campaign has certainly set an impressive chain of events into motion as we see the House of Commons almost empty yesterday afternoon. This is an achievement that no other cycling campaign has managed in recent years.
So are things looking positive? Well a great turn out from cyclists and a good turn out by MP’s is certainly a positive, our trusty Prime Minister David (not a cyclist) Cameron may have just thrown a few bad eggs. Promising a pitiful amount of money for building new cycle routes across the country (less in fact than what was spent on the current Cycle Superhighways, and we know how good they are). It is of course a start.
At the end of Wednesdays ride, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n announced a new date to keep clear in our diaries, Saturday the 28th of April, for another mass ride, where hopefully even more cyclists will turn out for our biggest gathering to date.
A riders view of the ride. Thanks to Arasllopp for this
The magic paint lines obviously don’t keep other, much harder and faster vehicles from straying into them, and the consequences of them doing so can be huge. As the cyclist in the above video found out, being in the position designated to us on the road doesn’t equal safety and being hit by a bus that was driving in it was not a pleasurable experience!
The campaign raises similar points to other campaigns, touching on topics such as trixie mirrors, issues with large vehicles, re-design of junctions and speed limits. The difference so far is that it has been coming from a huge newspaper and not from a cycling lobby.
But are we missing something?
The one thing missing is a way to change road user attitude. I see the Times mention training of drivers and cyclists and to include a cycling specific section in the driving test. Whilst yes this would be a good measure, it doesn’t solve the millions of drivers we already have on our roads who are ‘bad’ drivers.
So what can we do? Essentially we need better policing on the roads. At present people are allowed to get away with bad driving if nobody in authority is watching and if no collision occurs. Because they aren’t brought up on it, this leads to bad driving become a habit and essentially normal driving.
As Croydon Council recently put on a sign around the corner from me. ‘Speeding is bad driving’. They put this on a road which is well-known for speeding road users. It’s nice and wide, with a pedestrian footpath on only one side which is also separated from the main carriage way by traffic islands and another small roadway. So people feel like it is OK to speed. In my +10 years of using this road, as a cyclist, driver and passenger, I’ve not once seen a police vehicle on it that was going after speeding drivers.
Usually, unless there is a fatal or serious road collision due to a speeding vehicle, local authorities will not put in speed cameras, and even if they do, they are of the type which are static, highly visible and only slow drivers down for a few meters. Only a few years ago hundreds if not thousands of speed cameras were turned off around the country because they cost too much to run.
Adding brand new cycling facilities is all well and good but they are useless if they aren’t enforced by the police or if all road users aren’t educated about them. We can see an example of poor implementation, enforcement and education by looking at advanced stop lines. A large proportion of ASL’s have vehicles in them which shouldn’t, which just makes the whole reason for them pointless.
It took years to make drink driving unacceptable, fines and points is not enough to deter people from doing something. Driving bans are much more effective. Driving whilst on the phone is just as dangerous as driving whilst over the drink drive limit, yet the penalties are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum which makes driving on the phone appear to be less dangerous and more socially acceptable, which it shouldn’t be.
We obviously need to change certain things to make the road network safer for all road users but I think a big aspect we are missing in current campaigning is increased enforcement of road users, continued education throughout driving ‘career’ and changing the underlying attitude that British road users have.