by Matt Langridge, PCI #869
Thames Valley Police (UK)
I am really lucky in my work. Not only do I get paid to ride a bike most days, I occasionally get invited to attend events in my capacity as a bike cop. The 2007 Cycle Show took place 11-14 October, in a new venue, Earls Court, London.
Once again, Emergency Services Cycle Patrol was well represented, with exhibition space being provided. I volunteered to help on Saturday 14th. I was very impressed by the scale of the show. There were exhibitors from a wide range of bike, clothing and accessory manufacturers alongside service providers, travel companies and organisations with a cycling background or an interest in promoting cycling. My wife, being the shrewd individual she is, had kidnapped my credit cards again so that I couldn’t break the bank whilst dribbling over the shiny new stuff. Very shiny, very new and oh so very tempting!
Our exhibit space had doubled in size from previous years. The show was run on the Saturday by Sergeant Dave Prashner from City of London Police. It was good to see him again after meeting him during the run up to the Emergency Services Cycle Patrol Seminar earlier in the year. We had safety and security information to distribute as well as examples of good quality bike locks to show. There were also several police and ambulance bikes for the public to look at and play with. A friend of mine came to the show with his 13-year-old son, Jonathan. At the Tour de France, I had promised him that if there was a test track at the show, he could put my gear on and ride my patrol bike round the track. Well, there was a track and he did ride. It looks like he enjoyed it!
Many public safety professionals stopped by the exhibit for advice and ideas. IPMBA was promoted with gusto along with the fledgling UK organisation, Tom Lynch’s brainchild, Public Safety Cycling.
What caught my eye this year? Well, I won’t go into the bikes that were on display as there were so many that I NEED to own, that there wouldn’t be enough paper in the world to put into print my desires.
Ultimate Sports Equipment (USE) were displaying the latest Exposure Light range. My favourite is the ‘Joystick’, a small LED light unit about the size of a couple of shotgun cartridges, maybe a bit fatter. This uses either a handlebar mount or, my choice, a helmet mount. I have last year’s version on my patrol helmet. It is great for riding as it illuminates where you are looking (through the bend/hazard, not just in front of the bike) so it really works well in addition to a handlebar light. I also use it when searching, switching it on and having two hands free for patting down, etc. It’s great for doing paperwork (tickets, search forms, etc.) at night, as you can swivel the mount to point at your pad. I find it has a good safety feature; if a suspect is getting ‘in your face’, switching the light on and directing it at their eyes disorientates them and gives you two hands to fend them off if necessary. I think bike medics would benefit from it as well, being able to light up their casualties whilst working on them. This year’s edition has claimed run times of three hours on max output, ten hours on ‘Ride’, 24 hours on ‘Low’ and days on ‘flash.’ It also has a socket to plug in a back-up battery pack. It is a bit pricey at £165 but it is definitely a top quality light. See www.exposurelights.com.
Another interesting light, at the opposite end of the scale, is the Frog light from Knog. This is a single LED light in a small housing. It is powered by two flat cell batteries, similar to those used in car key fobs. The housing is a silicone rubber unit with integral band and hook which you can strap to just about anything as it works like an O ring. On their display they had them all over a bike frame and wheel hubs. I have a white one that I have affixed to my helmet. At night the LED, which projects to the front, makes the whole housing glow, increasing your conspicuity. I have seen written debates in the UK about lights and, many feel that in the urban environment, bike mounted lighting, no matter how bright, can get lost in the background. Raising a flashing LED above all this may increase your chances of being seen. So far, I have noticed an apparent reduction in the number of vehicles seeing me at the last moment at junctions. This is anecdotal evidence as opposed to scientific, but it works for me. Knog offers other lights as well as some really funky bags. The Knog catalogue can be downloaded at www.knog.com.au.
Exelite produce a range of products employing EL Lamp technology. EL Lamps are flexible, flat, cold illumination sources using LEC (Light Emitting Capacitor). What this results in is belts, vests, etc., with wide strips of what look like reflective material which illuminates. The EL lamps are powered by rechargeable batteries. Check them out at www.exelitesafety.com.
Pedalites are flat MTB type pedals with a dynamo built in to the axel. This dynamo produces sufficient energy to illuminate LED’s built into the outside of the pedal, giving 360° light. As a flashing light that moves with the pedal, it draws attention to the presence of a bike on the road. The pedals currently come with red and amber LED’s incorporated, but Mike Surgett from City of London Police is working with the team to try and incorporate blue LED’s which could be activated with a quick back pedal! See www.pedalite.com.
Pragmasis Security Products is a small family business set up by a pair of motorcycling and cycling nuts. They have developed and produce a range of security products to help safeguard your pride and joy. The first product that I became aware of was their Torc Ground Anchor. This is a folding, rotating ground shackle which provides an anchor to which you secure your motorcycle, cycle, or trailer. You stipulate the type of surface in which the Anchor is to be installed, for instance, concrete, brick, or inside a van/truck, and Pragmasis supply the correct resin/fittings for the installation.
The next product was the Shed Shackle . This is a kit designed for installation in wooden sheds. The design of the shackle means that any potential thief will have to dismantle your shed to steal your pride and joy. It utilises coach bolt type fixings which cannot be grasped with pliers/screwdrivers/wrenches, etc., accompanied by shear nuts. These are nuts with the threaded section in a cone. The nut head shears off when the correct torque is reached, leaving a small cone that again, cannot be gripped by tools. All materials used in the manufacture of the equipment are hardened. Pragmasis also supply a range of high strength chains and locks. Visit www.torcanchors.com for more information.
Rainlegs are a product I have written about before. They are waterproof leggings that cover the front of the thigh and knee. When I first found them, they were only available in grey. Black could be produced but with a large minimum order. It would appear that enough interest was expressed in colours other than grey that they now produce black as a standard option (as well as a denim look style!). I still use mine on a regular basis and they do make a difference in my ability to stay dry whilst riding. Check out www.rainlegs.co.uk.
So, once again, I had a great time at the show, met loads of people, saw loads of great stuff and didn’t spend a fortune. I look forward to the 2008 edition of the show and hope to once again get an invitation! Life is great!
Matt, IPMBA’s UK correspondent, is a devotee of all things bicycle-related. It is unknown how many Shed Shackles his collection of “pride and joy” requires. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2008 IPMBA. This article appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of IPMBA News.