Ironically, it looks quite scary, this type of sawn-through handlebar on a bicycle. But this steering aid, which is being developed by Biomechatronics (3ME), is intended to make cycling safer. And it works too, says bicycle researcher Dr Arend Schwab. ‘Normally a bicycle becomes stable when it is moving at 15 km/hour or faster. With this steering aid, the bicycle becomes stable at just 3 km/hour.’
Schwab developed the steering aid in response to accident statistics showing that the number of bicycle accidents has increased, particularly among the elderly in accidents involving no other moving traffic. Schwab believes that stability plays a role in this kind of accident.
The steering aid, which consists of a sensor, a small processor and a servomotor, takes over the job of steering at low speeds and steers in the direction in which the user is likely to fall. It takes some getting used to, but that is the case with any new bicycle, says Schwab.
The prototype may look a little rough around the edges, but eventually it will be possible to incorporate the entire system into the front of the frame, the bicycle researcher reassures us.