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    A bicycle commute through Louisville may not inspire thoughts of pleasant wind chimes or an orchestral masterpiece. But that’s what you’ll hear when you filter that bike ride through the giant imagination of artist and avid cyclist Todd C. Smith. From spring (hopefully Memorial Day weekend) through November, 80 cyclists will outfit their bikes with special equipment that will, in real time, interpret their cycling experiences as sounds streamed live through speakers on the Big Four Bridge.

    Partially funded by the city’s Move Louisville initiative, which focuses on improving and reimagining the public transportation system and walkways, Smith’s Bike Sense Project will use sensors that can determine air quality, barometric pressure and temperature, as well as the route being taken. The equipment fits into a contraption that resembles a plastic water bottle. Coding Smith has devised will reinterpret data into chords and notes. “If it gets really hot, it will affect the note sound,” Smith says. “People will be able to interpret those sounds, like if the air quality is bad. I like to think of it as a digital wind chime.”

    The city will study the final results, to identify popular routes and where riders get into trouble. Smith has installed an “emergency button” for riders. “If they’re ever in a close call — not even an accident, but if they feel like they almost got hit by a car or a bus — they can hit that,” he says. When that happens, the music on the Big Four will reflect panic. “I’m thinking like an orchestral hit,” Smith says. “Much more robust.”

    This originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine as the Why Louisville? bit. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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