Smart design shines a light on cyclist safety

Smart design shines a light on cyclist safety

Industrial design alumnus Tim Ottaway has been named the James Dyson Award National Winner for his Project Flock bike light, designed to improve cyclist safety.

Drawing on the concept of 'biomotion', the Project Flock bike light illuminates the rider’s legs, making them more visible to other road users than conventional flashing bike lights.

Smart sensors also automatically adjust output from the high-powered LEDs, responding effortlessly to the environment so the rider is highly noticeable without startling or blinding other road users.

Ottaway said with more than 1,000 cyclists suffering life threatening injuries on Australian roads each year and the majority of fatalities involving a rear collision from a motor vehicle, he wanted to see how design could offer a solution.

“Safety is one of the biggest barriers for many people to taking up riding so if we want to move towards more sustainable modes of transportation this needs to be meaningfully addressed,” Ottaway said.

A recent graduate of RMIT’s Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours), Ottaway decided one way to improve cyclist safety was by making cyclists themselves more conspicuous.

"Why can't the first thing we see be a cyclist, not a flashing light?" he said.

Now his Project Flock bike light, which he launched as a start-up in May this year through RMIT Activator's LaunchHUB accelerator program, has been named the national winner of the prestigious James Dyson Award.

Run by the James Dyson Foundation, the annual design award is open to current and recent design engineering students to celebrate, encourage and inspire the next generation of design engineers.

On the judging panel this year was another RMIT alumnus and previous James Dyson Award winner, Ryan Tilley.

Tilley is the co-founder of Gecko Traxx, a portable and affordable manual wheelchair accessory which enables access to the beach and other off-road terrains.​

“As an avid cyclist, I’ve seen first-hand how serious road accidents can be, which is why Project Flock really stood out to me,” Tilley said.

“It’s a simple design that proves that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best solution.”

Bachelor of Industrial Design graduate Timothy Ottaway has been named the James Dyson Award National Winner for his Project Flock bike light.

Ottaway is hoping to launch Project Flock on a crowdfunding platform soon and said the significant increase in Australians taking up cycling during the COVID-19 made him eager to get the light in the hands of cyclists as soon as possible.

“The Project Flock bike light can’t solve all issues associated with cycling safety, but it’s a starting point,” he said.

As national winner of the James Dyson Award, Ottaway will receive AU$3,500 to go towards his project and progress to the international stage of the awards where a Top 20 will be selected by a panel of Dyson Engineers.


Story: Grace Taylor


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