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CU Students Invent Device To Make Cyclists More Visible

BOULDER, Colo., (CBS4) – A group of three engineering students and one business student at the University of Colorado Boulder are using their specialized skills to improve bike safety. According to Colorado Department of Transportation numbers, nine cyclists have died on Colorado roads this year, including a woman hit by a car near Bayaud Avenue and S. Marion Street in July.

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The students believe one solution is illuminating cyclists differently while they're on the road. Alex Mulvaney, who graduated from CU in the spring, tells CBS4 he came up with the idea two years ago.

"Every day on the bike path someone would pass me, but they would have the brightest light imaginable," Mulvaney said. "It would blind me every single day. I'd be like, 'wow, I know you need to be seen but that's too bright.'"

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Mulvaney's idea was to turn the bike light around. Along with fellow engineering student, Kathy Vega, they made a prototype using a friend's 3D printer.

"This is the light that illuminates the rider coming up the rear with the special shield so it doesn't reduce your night visibility at all," he said while demoing the light in the CU-Boulder Engineering Center.

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Two years later, the students call their device the ShineOn Dual Beam. It attaches the bike's handlebars and had an adjustable front light and, more importantly, a colored light facing back at the cyclist.

"Our own tests show that you can see someone 250 times more visible using our light and you can actually see a cyclist from ten times farther away," Mulvaney said.

This week, the group launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $27,500. The money would allow them to get the molds and equipment to mass produce the Dual Beam.

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(credit: ShineOn Dual Beam)

Vega said it's all about safety.

"This isn't a new problem, right? Cycling safety has been an issue for years, and we recognized it two years ago," she said. "With the increased tragedies recently, I think it's encouraged us even more to really recognize the need to make changes for cyclists."

Eventually, the group wants a similar light for the rider's back so the entire body is illuminated. After that, ShineOn is interested in finding a corporate partner.

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"Just allowing us to get these to more people and making more cyclists safer and encouraging more transportation," Vega said.

The students said this wouldn't be possible without a stipend from Catalyze, CU's startup accelerator.

The light will eventually retail for around $110.

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