A few years ago when Australian Ida Owbridge was living in Sweden with her husband, she couldn’t help but notice everyone – truly everyone – got around with reflectors. Whether they were on bikes, bags, pets or prams, Scandinavians liked to light up when darkness would fall.
She asked her Swedish husband about the apparent obsession and he laughed it off, saying that they were every bit as widespread back Down Under. But they weren’t at all.
A victim of a terrible head-on car collision that left her in hospital with major injuries, Ida knew what it was like to be involved in an accident. Safety was of personal paramount importance to Ida, but these reflectors got her thinking… Maybe she could do something to help Aussies be as safe as possible as well?
She didn’t muck around.
In no time Ida had scheduled factory visits and meetings with highly reputable Scandinavian reflector manufacturers. She set out to absorb everything about reflectors and began to understand the level of quality control and testing that is an intrinsic and typical part of production in Scandinavia.
Ida learnt that reflectors are tested every two hours for reflector clarity and depth of visibility (up to 400m for some), water resistance, heat resistance, impact resistance and more… Further, the European Union adhered to a Safety Standard code for all reflectors. Ida needed no further reassurance that Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark were home to the world’s premium reflector manufacturers.
She was determined to see Australians benefit, and so Australian Safety Reflectors was launched.
There are three reflective products within the stable:
1/ Slapwraps – ideal for cyclists to slap around their wrist or ankle. These bands have been designed to be highly visible from any angle. When used on the ankle by commuters, they serve the added purpose of keeping pants away from the chain.
2/ Hard reflectors – available in a range of great shapes and colours, these are made from a hard prism and designed to hang from bags, handles, pet collars etc.
3/ Soft reflectors – available in an equally fun range of shapes and colours, these reflectors come in a soft, light plastic material and can also be hung from bags, handles, pet collars etc.
The plastic used is Phthalate free, meaning it doesn’t contain hazardous chemicals and is therefore safe to be around the kids.
A lot of Ida’s business currently caters to government organisations and corporate clients such as TAC in Victoria who are every bit as passionate about keeping road users as safe as possible. To that end Ida worked with TAC to produce bespoke ‘tennis ball’ style reflectors that were used to promote safety campaigns during this year’s Australian Open.
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But Ida and her team don’t just look after big businesses creating bespoke and branded reflectors. On the contrary – she loves to help light up the individual road user.
“I just want Aussies to be seen, and I want them feeling confident that they’re using an extremely high quality reflector that will be strongly visible from a significant distance. There are too many accidents on our roads and I want our products to help minimise this.”
According to Ida, one of the great things about the soft and hard reflectors is the fact they move.
“It’s the notion of something moving that is likely to catch a motorist’s eye as much as it is the reflective quality. So having reflectors dangle off say your back pack whilst you’re riding, is a great way to help catch the attention of road users around you.”
As the days get shorter and darker we riders need no convincing – it’s all about staying as visible as possible.