About six months ago a family friend went on an early morning mountain ride. At around 6:30am she crashed her bike and was knocked unconscious. She was not found until two hours later. Still unconscious, she was rushed to the hospital with serious head trauma. She survived, but has been on the long road of recovery since then, and still hasn’t been able to return to her full time job. I am happy the consequences were not worse and just want this to serve as reminder to have fun but take precautions to protect yourself and your future.
Cycling with friends has its obvious social benefits, but let’s not forget about the safety advantages of riding in groups. If something happens to you, there is someone there to get help or assist you back to the trailhead. Unfortunately there are those days when your friends aren’t available to ride, or perhaps you are a lone-wolf cyclist who enjoys solitude. In these situations there is always the possibility of a crash that leaves you stranded, unable to get help. Some people are willing to take the risk, and some would argue that it wouldn’t be an adventure if you were within cell phone range. However, there are some purchasable and/or free products available today that add an extra level of safety beyond helmets and body armor to keep you riding for years to come. Perhaps if my friend had one of these products, someone would have found her earlier and the consequences would have been less extreme. Let’s take a look at a few different products available today.
The first two products we recommend come from the Oklahoma-based company ICEdot. The first, ICEdot Wrist Band, provides emergency information to first responders so they can better help you. Each ICEdot Wrist Band comes with a unique alphanumeric code printed onto the band. After purchasing the product, register your code on their website, entering your emergency contact information along with allergies and medications.
In the event of a crash, first responders can text the international number listed on the ICEdot Wrist Band with your unique code. They will immediately get a text back with your information. If first responders choose to notify your emergency contacts, ICEdot will text your preprogrammed list. Stickers with the same unique code accompany each wristband. These stickers can be placed on your helmet or bike to assure that emergency responders see one at least one of the ICEdot codes.
The next ICEdot product is similar with one very significant advantage; the ICEdot Crash Sensor detects impacts and automatically notifies emergency contacts of your location using your phone’s built in GPS. The sensor mounts to your helmet and links to your phone using the ICEdot iPhone or Android app. The following video best explains its features and benefits.
If you already have one of Garmin’s newer devices with cell phone connectivity, you have the ability to enable live tracking features. After inviting friends and family using Garmin Connect software, an email is sent to allow sharing of your ride data. Your friends and family can click the link to view your current location and current speed, which is relayed from your Garmin device, through your phone, to the web-based viewer. Although the software doesn’t include any emergency notification features, it can be used to track you if your friends already know you are riding and you have sent them a unique link for that ride. It is a more manual process than some of the other options and is not intended for emergency use, however it is a way to relay your GPS coordinates to a friend or family member.
Perhaps one of the most appealing options, due to its price tag, is a free app made by RoadID. This iPhone and Android app includes many emergency notification features. I am thoroughly impressed with the functionality considering the price tag. If you have a smartphone, there is really no reason you shouldn’t have this app installed.
After installing the app, creating a user profile is easy and quick. The main screen allows you setup a handful of features and options, disabling those you don’t want.
eCrumb tracking allows you to share your ride data with family and friends. You can choose an activity duration and quick message about what you are doing that will display when they are notified.
In my opinion, the coolest feature of the RoadID app is the ability to turn on stationary alerts. When activated, the app will detect lack of movement and start a 60 second countdown with an audible alarm. If the alarm isn’t disabled within 60 seconds, your emergency contacts will be notified of your lack of movement with your current location. I could see this being a problem for those that frequently take breaks on their rides, but if your phone is easily accessible, it isn’t hard to disable the alert during non-emergency situations.
The RoadID app also allows you to customize a lock screen picture with a custom message and list of emergency contacts. Once you finish customizing the screen, it saves a picture to your camera roll, which can be set as the lock screen background. When first responders arrive and turn on your phone, they will be greeted with RoadID emergency info and a list of people to call.
Ideally, everyone would have an ICEdot Crash Sensor, automatically notifying others of your location on impact. The ICEdot is endorsed by the American Ambulance Association and is a partnered with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. If the Crash Sensor isn’t on your list of priorities, I urge you to get the RoadID app or at the very least let people know where you are going when you ride.
An easy precaution to take; create a contact in your phone called I.C.E., standing for “In Case of Emergency.” Most paramedics and first responders know to check phones for this contact which can be populated with information about you and emergency contact information. Have fun and ride safe and when you can’t keep the rubber side down, please make sure to have a plan in place to get help quickly.
Rubber Side Down is a weekly column dedicated to the fledgling cyclist in all of us. Art’s Cyclery Web Content Editor, Brett Murphy is not a professional cyclist, and doesn’t try to masquerade as one either, but he does love to ride bikes. Whether you are clipping in for the first time or counting down the days until your first race, read on, learn from his mistakes, and keep the rubber side down.