TOM GREENWOOD

Paint allows bikers to be beacons in the night

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Spring is taking its sweet asphalt time warming up, but that doesn't mean much to bicycle and motorcycle riders who have been itching to get back in the saddle.

With the return of two-wheelers to area roads, it's up to both riders and motorists to raise their level of safety awareness, and I think it's fair to say that goes double for night riding when visibility, but not speed limits, are greatly reduced.

To that end, the folks at Volvo have come up with a partial solution that could prevent crashes between cars and bikers. The Swedish carmaker has teamed up with Albedo 100, a company that produces reflective paint.

Together, they created LifePaint, a spray paint that can be applied to clothing, backpacks, bikes and motorcycles that is invisible during the day but is super reflective when hit by headlights at night.

I've seen a video of bikes/riders sprayed with LifePaint and they beam like a beacon when bathed in headlights. The paint can be applied to all parts of the bike plus clothing, backpacks, shoes and helmets.

(Interestingly enough, Albedo 100 markets a reflective spray for cats, dogs, horses, etc., that can be applied to the animal's fur. It's called Reflective Spray: Horse and Pets, and can be ordered online. A 4.6-ounce can runs about $19.)

There are a couple of downsides to the product: because the spray is water-based, it doesn't last forever. The paint will eventually wear off bikes and wash off clothing that is laundered.

(Volvo is reportedly work toward making a longer-lasting spray.)

It's also true that many bikers have started wearing reflective vests while they ride, but what if they forgot and left the safety clothing at home?

A can of LifePaint in the backpack would conceivably take care of that problem, if only temporarily.

The second is that the spray isn't commercially available yet, but when Volvo offered 2,000 free cans to bicycle shops in London, the entire supply was snapped up by riders in a matter of hours.

Based on the success of the giveaway, Volvo is leaning toward offering LifePaint on a global scale.

There have also been some naysayers who think Volvo produced the reflective paint only as a publicity stunt and that the solution lies in educating both bikers and drivers to reduce crashes.

Additional education certainly can help, but lighting up like a carnival can't hurt either.

tgreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023

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