Trek wants bikes to talk to cars

Trek and Tome display bike-to-vehicle communication ideas with Ford at CES

As a rider, being aware of cars is crucial. But what if cars could be made aware of your bike? This is the concept behind a new technology that Trek Bicycle and Tome Software are showing off at Ford's booth at the 2018 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.

Trek and Tome are working on an AI-based bicycle-to-vehicle communication system, or B2V. Part of the plan for B2V is to include Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology, which would let vehicles communicate with other vehicles — including bikes — as well as traffic infrastructure. 

C-V2X could be built into bike electronics, such as lights or computers, as well as a mobile phone app for cyclists.

Garmin has the Varia radar system that notifies riders of vehicles approaching from behind, and increases the intensity of the bike's rear light. Trek's proposed system would be similar — but with the driver behind being notified of the presence of cyclists. This would require both the vehicle and the bike to use the technology, of course.

Trek and Tome announced their plan last September, and have been doing research and development with the goal of reducing the number of cyclists killed and injured on the road.

"The future for us is to focus development on active safety measures"

“Ford has been supportive of our mission to make cycling safer since day one, and we all understand how important it is that B2V technology is open and shared," Tome founder and CEO Jake Sigal said in a press release.

Meanwhile, Trek has been working on cyclist visibility for some time with electronics and apparel. 

“The future for us is moving from a more passive approach to cycling safety and focusing our development on active safety measures,” Trek Electronics Product Manager Scott Kasin said. “We want to ensure that while cyclists have the tools and knowledge to do what they can to create a safer experience, they will now have the enhanced ability to communicate their presence directly to vehicles.” 

The hope is that Trek could build electronics that alert drivers to their presence in potentially dangerous roadway areas. Trek says that while the software technology would initially be built into Trek and Bontrager products, it could also be licensed to cycling and automotive companies. 

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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