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SmartHalo Entering Apple Stores

Hi fellow cyclists,

We have a big announcement today: SmartHalo will be sold in Apple stores in North America.

What started out as an idea 3 years ago will now be sold in one of the most prestigious tech stores around the world. This is great for many reasons:

  • This is going to make the product even better. We are a feedback-driven company. As more and more cyclists get their hands on SmartHalo, we will gather more valuable insights on how we can continually improve the software and firmware that drives SmartHalo. We even received some precious tips from Apple on how to improve the experience.
  • This exposes SmartHalo to a whole new crowd. Lots of cyclists don’t know about SmartHalo yet. This will provide a new venue for those people to discover us as it will be sold in Apple stores and on Apple’s online store. In the end, if more people with more SmartHalo devices on their bikes can also convince more people to bike safer, we all win.
  • Apple has pretty high standards for the products it sells in its stores. Being considered as a device worthy of selling next to iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and Apple Watches is an honour we couldn’t be more proud of.

As we let that sink in, we want to take a moment to thank all of our Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers who have helped us turn our vision into a product thousands of people use to make their bike rides safer and more fun.

This adventure has led us to many new places since its modest beginnings. We have learned so much during this journey and have yet much to learn. Going from web sales to retail is a new milestone in SmartHalo’s history.

We’re happy to have you along for the ride.

Sincerely,

-The SmartHalo Team

This is it, we’re shipping!

SmartHalo is shipping!

SmartHalo’s wildly successful crowdfunding campaign is now ready for delivery. Units are coming out of the factory as we speak and today, we’re shipping the first units to our Kickstarter, Indiegogo and pre-order backers. As production ramps up, units will be shipped throughout the world (in over 72 countries, to be exact).

Fulfilling such a massive number of units means they will be produced in batches – and they are already filling up quickly. If you haven’t ordered yet and want to bike with a SmartHalo before winter now is just about the best time to do so.  

To celebrate our worldwide launch, here’s our new video!

Happy biking! 🙂

-The SmartHalo Team <3

Shipping Update

Hey cyclists!

Production is underway so we thought this would be a good time to give a quick update!

This pallet full of SmartHalo devices is heading your way!

When will I receive my device?

As you know, we started shipping some units around the world. Some lucky fellas already received their devices but there are still a lot remaining to ship so don’t worry if you haven’t received yours yet, it’s coming! 🙂

The ramp up has been progressive but starting this week, the output will be much higher: we’re talking 500 to a thousand units per week going forward. This leads us to every Kickstarter backer being fulfilled by the end of April to mid May at the absolute latest, and every pre-order and recent order on our website in May which is on par with what we had announced in the last update.

What we are currently working on

Right now, one of our main objectives is to improve the number of units produced per month to meet demand around the world.

In parallel, our software team is working on bringing many improvements to the mobile app to make the SmartHalo experience smoother. Here’s what we’re cooking up for the next app update:

  • Help cards per feature: we’re going to do a better job of showing how each feature works!
  • Having better support pages available in the app for those who need help
  • Better handling of roundabouts (especially important for our European friends!)

First user feedback

The first few backers who received their units had pretty cool comments about the product, here’s a few choice quotes:

 

Needless to say, we’re really thrilled to see units in the hands of backers out there! What started as an idea 3 years ago has finally materialized and we couldn’t be happier. We know you’re anxious to get your devices, it’s coming! You’ll receive your tracking number as soon as your unit leaves the warehouse.

It’s happening

Hey guys,

Since the plan was to start shipping before the end of the month, and that today is the 28th, we felt we owed you a quick update!

Here we go – bullet point style:

  • Production is underway, and we have 500 PCBs (electronic circuit boards) manufactured;
  • We are now integrating these boards to plastic cases, adding the lock mechanism and closing these cases;
  • The method is working as expected, now we’re focusing on ramping it up as quickly as possible;
  • We will imminently be receiving boxes of SmartHalo at the office, and these will be transferred right away to our fulfillment partner;
  • Quick reminder: the production is out of Montreal’s south shore, about 20km from our offices;
  • Production will scale up in the next few days and weeks, and bigger production batches will be launched;
  • The SmartHalo app will go live on both the App Store and the Google Play Store as soon as we ship our first devices;
  • You will receive a tracking number once your unit leaves.

All that to say that we are a few days off schedule, but really wanted to communicate to you that things are moving!

Our goal is to have completed the fulfillment of all of our Kickstarter rewards and pre-sale orders by mid-April. As soon as we have exact details on the production volume that will follow the first batch, we’ll update you on the schedule.

We’re right there guys – it’s happening!

The Bicycle: A Tool for the Emancipation of Women

Although today in the West it seems natural for us to see women riding bicycles down the street, this hasn’t always been the case. Our ancestors fought for the right to ride. In 1896, American feminist activist Susan B. Anthony wrote that “[the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world.” But what did she mean by that? Here’s a short history lesson!

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A Symbol of Independence

The ”velocipede” appeared on the European market in the 1860s. Women from upper-class backgrounds were the first to take advantage of this new invention. It was considered a symbol of elegance and modernity because it was very expensive at the time.

By climbing onto a velocipede, women gained independence. For the first time, they had access to a method of individual transport that allowed them to distance themselves from the authority of their husband or father. Of course, this development in the emancipation of women was viewed unfavorably by certain men. They found this activity to be immoral for the women of the time.

Velocipede for Ladies by Pickering and Davis, New York.

Velocipede for Ladies by Pickering and Davis, New York.

 

 Cycling, Bad for Your Health?

Doctors began to publish “scientific” theories to prevent women from cycling. The velocipede was blamed for all ills. Dubbed the “sterility machine”, it was also accused of causing ulcers, hemorrhages, illnesses and inflammation in the “weaker sex”. Men also feared that the velocipede would distract women from their conjugal duties, as it was thought that mounting it led to sexual pleasure!

Despite public opinion, women were determined not to abandon this revolutionary practice. The scientific theories were quickly refuted.

Goodbye Corsets and Petticoats!

During the 1880s-1890s, the velocipede, which up until then had been used almost exclusively by the rich, was replaced by the modern bicycle. The new invention’s democratic price made it accessible to all social classes, and rates of cycling rapidly increased.

But women’s clothing of the day was not adapted for cycling. Women wore tight corsets, and their long dresses easily got caught in the wheels. To pedal more comfortably, female cyclists traded in these cumbersome garments for baggy pants called “bloomers”. At first, this new fashion was considered rather daring! Thanks to the bicycle, the female dress code evolved, and wearing pants caught on among women.

The bicycle clearly changed fashion, especially for women around 1895.

The bicycle clearly changed fashion, especially for women

 

A Still-Relevant Symbol of the Emancipation of Women

In certain countries, cycling is still forbidden for women, and the right to ride remains an everyday battle. In Cairo, female cyclists are accused of riding in an “indecent posture”, and are exposed to sexual harassment. In Iran, a woman on a bicycle is still synonymous with debauchery. In Saudi Arabia, women only gained the right to ride bicycles in 2013, and they are still required to be accompanied by a man.

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At the end of the 19th century, the invention of the bicycle allowed European and American women to fight prejudice, discover new horizons, leave their homes and enjoy more liberty. The fight for the right to ride continues in the modern-day Middle East. Numerous initiatives have been created to support women in their struggle. My Stealthy Freedom encourages Iranian women to post pictures of themselves on bicycles on their Facebook and Instagram pages (see below), Women’s World Wide Web raises funds to support female cycling in Afghanistan, and Go Bike organizes bike rides around the Egyptian capital. The bicycle’s role in the emancipation of women is not yet over!

An overview of innovative bike solutions in cities

Part of the problem with biking in big cities like Montreal is that these metropolises have usually been built with cars, rather than bikes, in mind. But there are several solutions that can be implemented to ensure that these two modes of transportation can live together in harmony, thereby avoiding frustration and accidents.

Cars and Bicycles Living in Harmony: Yes, it is Possible!

According to Copenhagenize, an urban planning consultancy, the top five global cities for biking are Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Strasbourg and Eindhoven. These cities feature such amenities as bike lanes which are not shared with vehicles or pedestrians, roads with speed and vehicle limits, and plans which give equal importance to cars and bicycles. In Copenhagen, one such plan has revealed itself to be undoubtedly effective and quite simple: organize the streets so that the most efficient way to get from Point A to Point B is via the bike/pedestrian pathways, and make the route for cars a real pain. The result? More people now choose biking or walking to get around the city.

Photo credit: Copenhagenize

Photo credit: Copenhagenize

Although Montreal has fallen from 13th to 20th place in the Copenhagenize rankings, the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood seems nevertheless to have been inspired by Danish planning. The borough has created many one-way streets, obliging cars to stick to the larger thoroughfares when passing through, and has also created several protected bike lanes, such as the one on Laurier Street. In Montreal and elsewhere in the province, several improvements have been made in the past few years to allow bicycles to circulate more freely, as evidenced in this Vélo Québec survey.

Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, New York and Seattle have earned the title of most “bicycle-friendly” cities in the United States. This is based on the improvements city governments have made for cyclists in 2016, the population of each city vs. the number of bicycles per head, the presence of amenities such as bike lanes and reserved paths, and the number of kilometers dedicated to bicycles throughout the city.

Innovative Bike Solutions

Several cities have come up with simple (and often cost-effective) solutions to encourage two-wheeled travel. This is the case, once again, with Copenhagen, the champion of “bike-friendly” cities. In the Danish capital, you will find metal ramps on certain roads so that cyclists can put their feet on them between traffic signals. Messages are written on these rest stops, such as “Hello cyclists! Put your foot up here, and rest your legs. Thank you for biking in the city.” This small, simple gesture shows cyclists that the city values them, and makes them smile!

Cyclists in Copenhagen

Biking in Copenhagen, where 45% of residents use bikes to move around. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons user Heb

In 2014, the Netherlands inaugurated the first solar-powered bike path in the world. Composed of solar panels laid out along a 70-meter stretch, which will soon be expanded 100 meters more, the solar-powered path produces enough energy to power three houses. The country plans to install more solar panels on bike paths in the future. Combined with electric cars, bicycles and traffic lights, this will eventually move Dutch cities entirely towards green energy use.

In 1993, the city of Trondheim, Norway introduced the “Trampe”, a cable on the ground that allows cyclists to climb steep hills effortlessly. Updated in 2013 and renamed the “Cyclocable”, this amenity had been used more than 200,000 times, and is now used every 12 seconds daily by Norwegian cyclists.

In Japan, it is still very difficult to find a place to park your bike when switching to another mode of transport. Kasai Station in Tokyo has found an innovative solution: an underground parking system for bicycles! All you have to do is bring your bicycle to an “Eco-cycle” station. The system “swallows up” your bicycle and takes it to an underground parking spot for you. When you swipe your personal Eco-cycle card, your bike will be returned to you at the end of your trip within 20 seconds.

Although cities still have work to do when it comes to making sure that bicycles have as many safe spaces as cars, cyclists are nevertheless becoming more and more present throughout the year. This is true even in Northern cities with harsh, snowy winters. That’s why in 2017 Montreal will welcome the Winter Cycling Congress, an opportunity to rethink city planning in sub-zero temperatures. The city plans to develop more “white paths” —cycling paths (or parts of paths) that will remain clear and car-free all year long.

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While we’re still waiting for every city on the planet to be 100% bicycle-friendly, everyone, both cyclists and motorists, should do their part to respect everyone’s space. That’s the message of this viral video, which humorously explains the perils of urban cycling in New York. Its point will surely apply to many other cities around the world.

 

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