Vancouver company creates unique safety lights for wheelchairs

Click to play video: 'Tetragear: New wheelchair safety product' Tetragear: New wheelchair safety product
WATCH: A Vancouver company is hoping its new invention, the Tetra light wheelchair, will make the lives of people safer. As Aaron McArthur reports, it’s hoping a kick-starter program will get it off the ground – May 13, 2016

For Eric Molendyk, crossing the street can mean putting his life in the hands of drivers.

After getting hit by a car eight years ago and becoming , he decided he needed find a way to be safer, and launched TetraGear.

“I can officially say I’ve given my blood to this project,” he says.

Now on the verge of production, TetraGear has expanded to four employees and has turned to Kickstarter to raise the needed capital.

(You can donate here)

The led lights are designed for the disabled, but are being marketed to the broader able-bodied public, including people on scooters and bikes. Everything has been engineered in-house, and mostly manufactured here in Vancouver.

“We’re the first light that’s visible from 360 degrees. So we have full visibility from all around, and it’s flexible, it’s dynamic, it’s multi-use, so it can go any device, but it’s also robust,” says Radu Postole of TetraGear.

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There are about 60 prototype lights right now being tested. Tetra Gear says what sets them apart is their durability and ease of use – even the battery is designed for people with extremely limited mobility.

For four-time Paralympic medalist Richard Peter, the lights have become an everyday part of his rides.

“It’s always a challenge. Everybody in a chair or with any form of disability, it’s just to be seen. And especially in Vancouver, with the different weather.”

The visibility makes them easily distinguishable from hundreds of meters away. But one of the keys to this project though was to make the lights cool.

“A lot of mobility users will tell you their wheelchair or scooter is an extension of them. So that was a big thing for our users. They want it to be safe, for sure, but they didn’t want something that would make them look more disabled,” says Molendyk.

TetraGear hopes to have their lights broadly available sometime this fall.

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