Koowho, a Japanese bike shop and the company behind Alcoho-Lock, responded to the anti-drunk-biking laws in Japan by creating a system that lets friends and family members know when you’re about to take a tipsy ride. Riders have to blow into the lock to get it to open; if the rider is too sloshed, the lock will send a message to the preassigned contact that has the app installed.
That’s right: The lock will still open even if the rider is over the limit. The lock relies on the drinker’s hopefully-more-sober friend or loved one to convince the them to take a cab or walk the bike home, with”the power of love.” Huey Lewis spread that news back in 1986. It may be a harder sell to someone so drunk they’d fail a breathalyzer.
Koowho’s website reminds possible buyers that the amounts of alcohol the lock is designed to detect are just reference points, and don’t ensure safety. And there may be a few more caveats in everyday use.
First, someone has to spend as much as $320 on the lock (at least the Android-only app is free). If you’re a drinker, spending that amount means admitting you have a problem.
Alcoho-Lock’s effectiveness also depends a lot on the commitment of the drinker, even if someone who tends to drink and ride is given the lock for free. Since the lock’s prohibitively small size would keep it from being used on anything much larger than the tire and frame, the rider will likely need to have another lock on them, which means they can elect not to carry the Alcoho-Lock at all.
In a bind, it will would also be easy to enough to fool the lock by getting someone else to blow into it, be it a nearby friend or another partier that doesn’t mind putting their lips on or near something that is rubbing on a bike frame. On the bright side, Alcoho-Lock will encourage riders to keep their bikes clean – no one wants to put their lips on road dirt.
The price, the inherent responsibility required, and branding that says “I am an alcoholic,” may make buyers think twice. But if there’s a possibility Alcoho-Lock can save you some road rash or keep your head intact (wear your helmets, people), it may be worth the money. If you don’t tend to ride drunk and you need something that actually secures your bike, try the TiGR, the full titanium lock that costs $300 in its largest iteration.
Non-automobile DUI regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Alcoho-Lock should do very well in places where more people commute by bike like the Netherlands, Denmark (in fact, almost all countries in north-western Europe), Japan, and China.
The breathalyzer bike lock is available now for preorder on Koowho’s website.
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