Insult to Injury: Volvo’s LifePaint Mar 30, 2015

Products and videos like this are always bitter sweet. How about drivers just pay attention on the road, rather than try to make cyclists look like Tron rejects to catch their attention. Although I will say the paint itself looks interesting…

  • The name is hard to swallow. It seems to imply that without this product, I’m asking for trouble. It isn’t very flattering either.
    Stuff like this seems like it might turn people off to cycling. So much prep work just to ride a bike. Spray paint all over my clothes and the bike chain? gross

  • I’m wondering if this kind of paint can be integrated into factory paint jobs on frames without having to re-apply. With enough support, maybe this could become like having head lights standard on cars.

    • that would look a lot nicer

    • I’m wondering why Audi chooses to blame the victim.

      • Obviously that’s the deeper problem.

        “we’re at a scary cultural crossroads on the whole car/bike thing… the social and legal culture of the American road, not to mention the road itself, hasn’t caught up. Laws in most states do give bicycles full access to the road, but very few roads are designed to accommodate bicycles, and the speed and mass differentials — bikes sometimes slow traffic, only cyclists have much to fear from a crash — make sharing the road difficult to absorb at an emotional level.”

      • Jed

        Are they blaming the victim? Are they really, John? Take a look at their safety history. They, by far, boast the safest cars out there for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike. I like that they’re even acknowledging that cyclists have a right to the road (compared to American car manufacturers). I WOULD agree with you if this was the first piece of safety equipment they developed, but it is not.

        If Hold-Fast adds some reflective bits of their straps, you consider it “slick” and “creative;” but this reflective product (assuming because it’s coming from a car company) is victim blaming?

        • No need to take personal stabs at me for having an opinion about a large corporation that makes cars. I personally don’t care about their “safety history”, because it doesn’t affect me as a cyclist. It affects other drivers. Sure, I have a car and I drive, but that’s not what this is about.
          Volvo is saying cyclists should cover themselves *with a chemical* to be more visible when in turn, it’s the driver’s responsibility to be more careful. You don’t see that as putting responsibility on the victim of hit and runs?

          If a cyclist hits a car because they’re not paying attention, they get injured, yet if a car hits a cyclist because they’re not paying attention, the cyclist is injured. That’s transference of blame / responsibilty.

          I’d love to have a spray like this for roaches so I can see them better before I swat at them in my kitchen.

          • Michael Biornstad

            Each party has responsibility. We all take a role in ensuring the safety of the other and ourselves. Just because semi-trucks create greater risk than a honda hatchback doesn’t mean that the honda can go without lights or turn-signals.

            We are the most vulnerable mode of transportation occupying the road, but that doesn’t mean that we are free of responsibility. You may be right to frown at the neon-chemical-bath proposal, but that doesn’t mean we play no role at all in securing our own safety.

          • For sure. I always ride with strong, bright lights and obey traffic laws. That’s enough for me.

    • JScriv

      The clear coat is the biggest challenge in getting reflective material onto and actually functional on a frame or wheel.

  • Alex Bourassa-Young

    Why the Volvo hate?
    Anyone who thinks Volvo is blaming cyclists and pedestrians is not familiar with Volvo’s safety engineering and brand principles.

    Their cars are chocked with features to protect cyclists and pedestrians (cyclist and pedestrian radar, door blind spot warning, automatic cyclist and pedestrian braking, etc).
    Besides that this video is championing the plight of the cyclist with respect to cars.

    • I don’t hate Volvo, I just think this project is riddled with misinformation and blame.

    • Michael Biornstad

      The thought of dousing myself and my bike in opalescent paint is not appealing or seemingly a perfect solution. But I do admire companies looking at the bike world and asking, “Where do we fit in here? What can we bring to this market?”

      Perhaps if Volvo takes a different angle from glow-bombing one’s possessions, this product might find an application in the commuter market.

      I disagree with the blame-angle, John. The reality is that bikers get hit by cars because of poor infrastructure and a a lack of visibility. I think Volvo is looking to reduce the number of accidents, not change city’s bike transportation infrastructure. Both endeavors have their place, but neither actively blame cyclists. I think it’s wishful thinking to expect drivers to simply pay more attention. There are 16 year-olds behind the wheel after all! It’s a pretty incompetent bunch on the whole, so while increasing driver awareness is important, my opinion is that we need to be the active party and temper our expectations of drivers.

      Change infrastructure, write bike-friendly legislation, and make ourselves visible.

      (“Tron rejects” was a good line)

  • Matt

    I want a lifepaint flame paint job

  • ap

    i didn’t understand any blame being placed on the cyclists in any part of the video. I’d buy this product to augment my bike lights.

    • I interpret this video as shifting responsibility from drivers, the biggest, fastest vehicles on the road, to making the smallest, most mobile vehicles cover themselves in a chemical to be “safer”. Seems weighted on the driver’s side, which makes sense because Volvo makes cars, not bikes.

      I’d rather see them fund bike lanes in cities than hand out cans of Raid.

      • ap

        I see how you connect those dots, I just don’t myself. Thanks for the share regardless.

        • It’s definitely a stretch (my opinion that is) but I just want to ride my bike with a solid (non blinking) head lamp and rear light and have that be enough like it always has been. For me, a low to the ground, powerful rear light makes more sense than a chemical.

    • Richard Ellis

      It ends with tagline ‘the best way to survive a crash is not to crash’ – which implies that the cyclist is to blame for crashing in the first place. Could have shifted the emphasis onto the driver by a passive verb – ‘the best way to survive a crash is to reduce your risk of being hit’.

      • Well put.

      • ap

        “cycle safety is not all about bicycles. it’s about cars, it’s about pedestrians, it’s about sharing the road with other users” encapsulates the feeling of the video to me more. I mean I see how you can easily spin that tagline in the way you interpreted, but I didn’t. Oh well. Your opinion =/ my opinion = fine. Take my opinion with a grain of salt anyway, I’m no bicycle safety expert; I got berated by a taxi driver (in manhattan) a few days ago and after he stopped yelling he told me it was because I was “f’ing invisible!” I had forgotten to turn on my headlight and rear blinky. I yelled back, but he was right.

        Oh I did have a volvo station wagon in college and loved it dearly so maybe I’m just partial.

  • Ryan

    No matter how you look at it, there is still one simple fact, bikes are hard to see at night, especially on rural roads without streetlights. Dusk is probably the time where this is an amazing invention. At dusk drivers have their headlights on, this makes their vision adjusted to the bright lights of their headlights. A cyclist might not need a bright headlight to navigate as their eyes can adjust to the dark enough for them to see their way. A car approaching the cyclist might need to be very close before they can actually see the cyclist and respond accordingly. If this paint was used the frame would light up enough allow the drivers light adjusted eyes see the cyclist.

    I live in a rural area where lots of people run after work. In the colder months it is dark when I drive home from work. I am always stunned at how hard it can be to see a jogger who has no reflective gear and how easily it is to see one who is wearing reflective gear.

  • Drew Leigh

    And yet, I don’t think it will actually change anything. Will widespread adoption of this product result in a meaningful decrease in the statistics? Personally, I’m skeptical.

  • Thomas David Slater

    i can see this spray being popular with taggers!

  • chaznw

    Seems like a pretty benign way to get a little more visibility. I ride a recumbent trike and visibility is very important to me. I have excellent head/tail lights but from the side I am not very visible at night. This might help. Then again there is always Bozo sensing radar and stupid seeking missles.

  • Felix

    Products like this have been around for years and they don’t work very well… This is just rebranded for PR purposes.

    I see loads of people wearing safety vests and putting lots of reflective stuff on their bikes in the last couple of years. This changes little to nothing. People still ride their bikes like idiots and other people still drive their cars like idiots. Visibilty is not the real problem. Of course after an accident everyone says “Oh, i didn’t see you there!” hence i understand the assumption. But lacking the ability to handle a vehicle (of whatever sort) and not being aware of your surroundings is the bigger deal here. People can’t see you because they don’t look in the first place! That’s not because your are not glowing enough…
    And as long as you are not in the center of someone’s headlights those reflective materials won’t get you anything. The translucent spheres embedded in those matrials only effectively reflect in the exact direction where the light came from. So they won’t prevent the most common accidents like dooring, getting run over by turning cars not seeing you in the bike lane, crossing traffic etc… If riding into oncoming traffic on the other hand, this might be just the thing for you.
    Of course better visibilty can help in certain situations but portraiying the act of dousing you and your bike in spray paint every couple of days to be a lesser threat to traffic in such a glorifying way is just offensive to me.

    “Our 2020 Vision: By 2020 no person will be killed, or seriously injured, by a new volvo.” … because we made them cover themselves in paint. Using Glue and Aerosols. Give me a break, marketing guy.

  • kermitonwheels

    I think the big issue with cycle safety, as some point out, is that drivers aren’t looking. But I think this goes a bit deeper and there are issues with drivers having inattentional blindness i.e. the brain is busy focusing on one specific thing and so all the other issues are just phased out (you’re seeing but the brain isn’t registering everything). In part I think this is because drivers are conditioned (trained/taught/practice) to look for other motor vehicles. Setting aside just complete inattention which is a big issue itself, we need to change the language used and approach in driver training to be more cyclist and pedestrian aware, to look for road users or some other term which is inclusive. Reflective paint isn’t the answer.

  • RecoveryPatience

    This stuff can’t be good for the environment.