According to internal surveys, 41% of singletracks members generally go mountain biking alone. Admittedly hitting the trail solo isn’t the safest idea but sometimes it just happens due to scheduling conflicts, weather, etc. For those times that you do find yourself in an army of one, check out the My911 crash reporting app for Android, Blackberry, and (coming soon) iPhone.
The idea is simple: fire up the app when you hit the trail and My911 uses smartphone sensors to detect impact and speed to determine if the user has crashed. Once the app thinks an emergency has occurred it sounds a siren to let the user know it’s about to call 911. Assuming it’s a real emergency and you haven’t turned the app off yet, an emergency call is placed giving your GPS coordinates to emergency responders. The app allows you to adjust sensitivity to react to anything from minor spills to major catastrophes and you can program in up to 5 emergency contacts to notify in case of an accident.
Although there aren’t a lot of technical details available about the app, we assume the app takes into consideration both sudden deceleration and velocity (i.e. coming to a complete stop and staying stopped) to to avoid false alarms after landing monster jumps or punishing rock gardens. Since we haven’t tested the app ourselves we’re also curious about how the app affects battery life. Most GPS-enabled apps we’ve used can drain a battery in a matter of hours, even when running in the background. A dead phone isn’t all that useful in an emergency (nor is one without a signal so consider that as well).
Of course another way to stay safe when biking alone is to let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return. And it’s always a good idea to ride well within your limits when you’re solo – besides, no one will be there to see if you clean that rutted, rooty downhill section anyway.
Whether you decide to go high tech or low tech, just remember to take extra precautions when riding alone. Now what this app needs is a way to take pics of your injuries to show your buddies when you get back!