Stop Traffic In This 7-Mode LED Running Jacket

[Miria] was tired of tangling with bicyclists on her nighttime runs. It was obvious to her to illuminate herself, but she thought it would be really cool if the lights responded to her heart rate. The short summary that tipped us off is over at NYC Resistor, and [Miria] gives the gory details on her blog. The LEDs operate in seven different light modes that increase in speed proportionate to her heart rate.

She started the build around an Arduino but found that the compatible heart rate sensors were mostly optical and gave inaccurate readings. Since she was already using a Garmin GPS watch and heart rate monitor band, she decided to hack into the conversation between the two. Garmin uses the ANT protocol for this. While [Miria] found the documentation to be an effective sleeping pill, she also found that SparkFun has an ANT transceiver breakout board. Unfortunately, it’s been discontinued.

[Miria] continued undeterred, using the SparkFun board for prototyping. Her final version uses a Teensy 2.0 and this ANT transceiver in place of the ill-fated SparkFun board. She found an Energizer power pack that plugs directly into the Teensy and can power both Adafruit weatherproof LED strips for about an hour. Look both ways, and check out her demo after the break.

35 thoughts on “Stop Traffic In This 7-Mode LED Running Jacket

  1. She wasn’t “tired of tangling with bicyclists”, she says she “would run at night and almost get hit by bicyclists.” Operative word being “almost”, and she doesn’t say how, where, or why. Why did the editors exaggerate her statement? (Answer: because they’re anti-cyclist, like a lot of non-cyclists.)

    So, let’s get the facts straight. Percentage-wise in NYC about 0.6% of pedestrian injuries INVOLVE (not “are caused by”) bicyclists. Want to guess what the other 99.4% is? Motor vehicle drivers (ie: people like you, dear reader.) In Australia, you’re more likely to die of tripping than you are from getting hit by a bicyclist – I’m not making that up. More Australians trip on their shoelaces or on pavement edges and die from hitting their heads, then do from getting hit by someone on a bicycle. On roads in NYC, those with bike lanes are SAFER for pedestrians.

    Shared use paths (bicycles and pedestrians) are most dangerous for the bicyclists, NOT the pedestrians, because the cyclist is several feet up and cannot catch themselves in a fall.

    I can’t wait to read all the hateful comments about “Lances” and slutshaming/bodyshaming comments about spandex, how cyclists think they’re “entitled” or are “bike nazis”, the ever popular oh-the-other-day-I-saw-a-cyclist-do-_______-so-they’re-all-reckless-assholes and of course “roads weren’t built for bikes” and then there’s the “cyclists don’t pay for the roads”

    1. I cycle all the time. In NYC, and elsewhere. I also am a member at NYC Resistor, where we have many cyclists. I would just like to say, there are PLENTY of terribly unsafe cyclists in the world, and NYC is no exception.

      More to the point, I’ve noticed that well lit cities tend to lead cyclists to avoid having proper lighting on their bikes because, they just don’t need it all that often. Which is pretty stupid. Because when you hit that one unlit patch in an otherwise well lit city, there’s a good chance that’s exactly where a pedestrian will be.

      Now, I’m all for laying down some smack on the anti-bike crowd from time to time, but let’s not pretend there aren’t unsafe cyclists in the world, and no damned way to make them accountable for that beyond hoping they end up more injure than you when they run into you.

    2. I don’t think there was any anti-cycling bias there. It sounds like the average internet headline: read and posted fairly quickly and likely to get some details wrong.

      I am going to say what I say to all cyclists and drivers when they say something like what you just said: neither camp is better than the other, both camps are filled with bad actors, jerks, and those who drive in unsafe and illegal ways. Neither side is right.

      I am a segway rider and I share the road with both cyclists and cars, and have a lot of time on the road to observe both camps (as well as the occasional other segway rider). From my anecdotal, but broad sample set (at least as it applies to Portland and its ‘burbs) I can say both sides behave in unsafe behavior.

      HOWEVER, I can also say that cyclists are less like to look behind them, signal, and wear proper lighting. Also cyclists are far far more likely to ride illegally on the sidewalks…

      Maybe it is different where you are, but not here, or in San Francisco (where I go regularly), or so many other places.

      Stop blaming sides, and start blaming the individuals regardless of what side they are on…

  2. One thing I’m having trouble figuring out is why runners/joggers wear black at night? Here in Colorado they do, while tending to run in the street or bike path (with sidewalks available). Some have recently started running with blinkers on their backs, or a head mounted light, which increases their visibility by way over a mile (in my humble opinion). I’ve actually pulled over to thank them for wearing lights at night, as nothing pisses me off more than almost hitting someone/something…

    Not trying to start anything, but I’m _honestly_ wondering why runners wear black at night?

    1. I can’t speak for anyone else, but there people I know who run regularly say wear black because 1) a shocking amount of running gear is in black, and 2) the brighter colors don’t look good on them (non complementary colors).

  3. Love the jacket, this ought to be marketed. I would feel so terrible if I ran over a jogger, but even when I am trying to watch out for them I cannot see them at night in all black, the brighter the better.

  4. I’m remembering a classic Saturday Night Live Halloween Skit featuring the costume entitled “Invisible Pedestrian”, which of course was nothing but a bunch of black clothing. (Much like the “Johnny Human Torch” costume containing oily rags and a lighter, but I digress)
    I still chuckle at that after I calm down after veering away from said invisible pedestrian.
    Lighting is a great idea.

  5. Although being visible is nice, blinding everybody in the process is not. The human eye has a small contrast range. We can see pretty well in the dark until somebody lights a candle; then we’re suddenly almost blind. That bicyclist that now is not hitting you just ran into a wall, a tree or a curb.

  6. I expected to come and read a bunch of ‘omg gurl!’ Posts, instead got a bunch of anti/pro cyclist rants. Well done, you have surprised me again :p

    In any case really neat build. All too often you can’t see pedestrians at night apart from the occasional reflective strip on some shoes. The more visible you are the better, no matter if you are running with bikes or cars.

  7. The street and adjoining public property is not a disco. If you’re flashing you had better be an emergency responder. These ever brighter LED’s are great. Just don’t flash, dazzle, or blind anyone else.
    I see clearly how this can cause real emergency responders to freak out!
    Not much different than loading your car full of red and blue flashing lights and going for a cruse, or a store with flashing lights aimed into traffic to garner attention.
    Do bicycles have turn signals? They do have handlebars and hand brakes so how do you signal?

    1. Cars have lights that are far brighter than an LED strip will every be. So why are those OK and this not? Blinking lights are common for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Nor can I find a single law (in Oregon at least) that bans colored blinking lights. There are laws about masquerading as an emergency vehicle, but that doesn’t apply here at all.

      Indeed TriMet (the local mass transit system here) used give out flashing blue lights so that passengers can flag busses at night.

      Bicycles do not have turn signals, the driver must use hand signals to indicate turns; though there are aftermarket mods to add them.

      I, personally, think you are thinking there is a problem when none exists…

    1. Because this is more fun?

      In all seriousness I am sure many people do just choose reflective clothing, but we aren’t going to hear about them on HaD because it isn’t a hack in any way. [Miria] had the skills to do something fun AND make her more visible; so she did.

      1. Sure. It was just that at least here in Finland the usage of reflective vest has increased quite considerably among runners, cyclists and motor cyclists so I thought I could point out this choice for those who want to get the benefit of being visible while not having a chance to make one.

        1. Well sure, and as I said they are popular here in the US too, but that would never show up on HaD, because it isn’t a hack. Also, reflective vests are frankly unaesthetic, but led strips solves two problems that way.

          And forgive me for misunderstanding what you were trying to say. Putting it in the form of a question implies challenge to the validity of what [Miria] did; as opposed to something like “Here is Finland people commonly wear reflective vests, so that is an option as well”

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