When will bikes, Harleys join the connected world?

Article By : Junko Yoshida

People who ride bicycles and motorcycles are often left out of discussions about the connected vehicle ecosystem.

One of the hottest topics today in the automotive industry is the connected vehicle.

Under the heading of “connectivity,” the discussion covers vehicle-to-vehicle communication, in-vehicle smartphone apps to E112 (eCall in all new cars are mandated in Europe from April 2018), remote diagnostics, and over-the-air software updates.

And the experts argue over DSRC vs. Cellular-V2X.

We ponder the dangers–once viewed as preposterous–of cars getting infected by ransomware or rogue terrorists (or hackers just for fun) remotely taking control of our cars.

“Saving people’s lives” is the operative tagline among the marketing types in the auto industry promoting V2V, ADAS and highly automated driving technologies.

However, often left out of discussions about the connected vehicle ecosystem are people who ride bicycles and motorcycles.

I don’t think this neglect is intentional. It tends to reflect a general lack of awareness toward motorcyclists and bicyclists in the United States. So, where are we today? Will bikes and Harleys communicate at all with cars and trucks in an increasingly connected world?

According to an National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, roughly 5,000 motorcyclists die on the road every year in the United States. The latest data shows that fatalities among pedalcyclists jumped by 12.2% in 2015 compared to a year before, while motorcyclists’ fatalities also increased by 8.3%.

NHTSA bike deaths 01(cr)
Figure 1: Fatalities among pedalcyclists jumped by 12.2% in 2015. (Source: NHTSA)

In the last decade, the proportion of motorcyclist fatalities increased from 11% in 2006 to 14% in 2015.

NHTSA bike deaths 02 (cr)
Figure 2: Changes in fatality composition over the last decade. (Source: NHTSA)

So, what can we do about saving their lives?

Next: Cloud-based tech alerts drivers of approaching bikes

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