Vehicle: Bicycle: Safety
Active Stabilisers   (+4, -4)  [vote for, against]

Young children learn to ride bicycles with the aid of little supporting wheels mounted either side of the rear wheel; this allows them to get used to the bike without falling off every ten feet.

The idea is to install a couple of retractible stabilisers instead. When the bike is stationary, they extend fully. As it picks up speed, they slowly retract.

A pendulum device built into the stabilisers provides input to a simple processor which measures whether the bike is falling over (pendulum swings beyond a certain angle; this indicates that the resultant force produced by gravity and centripetal force is not acting through the tyre, i.e. the bike is leaning over, but not turning). When this is detected, the stabilisers are redeployed quickly to prevent a crash.

Admittedly, falling off a bike in the park rarely does long-term damage, and fear of falling off is a healthy fear which might prevent it occurring too often, but this would at least give kids a chance to learn the basics of two-wheeled balance safely.

The sensitivity of the system could potentially be adjustable so that new cyclists rode with the stabilisers very close to the ground, while more advanced youngsters had a higher ground clearance and could make sharper turns without the stabilisers touching down.
-- david_scothern, Nov 30 2006

Genius. +
-- jtp, Dec 01 2006

So its high tech training wheels? I don't think the cost of such a bike would be so great for the amount of time it is used.

Most kids grow out of thier bikes quite quickly and also learn to ride them within a week or so. To have all this extra stabilising equipment seems a bit wastefull.

The joy of the training wheel is that after a week of teaching a kid to ride, the bolt off.

Falling down is also not a bad thing, it teaches you to get back up and try again.
-- Chefboyrbored, Dec 01 2006

The point is that they bolt onto the bike in just the same way as current training wheels do, and come off just as easily.

[Chef] a week? A month or two, perhaps. Add to that the re-use by younger siblings and this would make itself worthwhile. As for complexity, the sensor (mechanical pendulum and limit switches perhaps?) and control logic is straightforward and only one actuator is needed per wheel.

As for falling off being a good thing, yes, a new cyclist needs to learn to fall off. But do they need to learn it quite so thoroughly?
-- david_scothern, Dec 01 2006

Great idea. I'd do it more like a system which was always there, and just prevented the bike's angle from 'getting out of hand'. LIke a tricycle which could lean. However, the cost is not important, as you could re-sell. Great idea. Also, on falling ... "it teaches you to get back up" ... quite a few people never get up and try again. "Once burned, twice shy".
-- nicholaswhitworth, Apr 16 2010

random, halfbakery