PETER LIEVENS, MANAGING DIRECTOR WOWOW REFLECTIVE WEAR
"If we can save one life, our mission has succeeded"
It was rather a coincidence that in 2004 Peter Lievens, after having sold his first company, ended up in the safety business. Among cyclists, safety was all but an issue at that time. This rapidly changed, partly under the impulse of Wowow…
After the tragic accident with Kazakh cyclist Andrej Kivilev in 2003, wearing a helmet became compulsory during cycling races.
But as for the rest, life just carried on as it was. And yet, Peter felt that there was a need for products that would help vulnerable road users in traffic. “As a passionate cyclist, I regularly encountered situations in which a collision could only just be avoided. Time and again, motorists told me the same: ‘Sorry, I hadn’t seen you!’ This made me think.”
Still, Peter almost seemed to be the only person interested in the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. “That’s why in the first few years I mainly tried to create a basis in the automotive sector and in schools to further develop Wowow from there.”
Luckily, much has changed in the last decade. “Raising public awareness and changing established attitudes is a very slow process. Because today the importance of safety and visibility is being emphasised, following generations will grow up with these ideas. Therefore, I am convinced that in a couple of years’ time, everyone will take to the streets in a visible manner.
With Wowow, we try to make safety ‘trendy’ through the use of colours and motives. But also the cut is definitely important”, says Peter. The Bag Covers are the best evidence of Wowow as a trendsetter. “You should check in the morning or evening during rush hour how many bicycle commuters are wearing such fluorescent and reflective cover over their backpack.”
It doesn’t bother Peter that meanwhile other brands are selling similar products. “This means that also our competitors consider Wowow to be the reference in terms of visible clothing and accessories. As long as they aren’t making an exact copy of our products, this is fine with me.
At the end of the day, the products are meant to save lives.”
Saving lives, that is also Wowow’s ultimate purpose. “If only one life can be saved thanks to our products, we will have accomplished the mission of our company.”
It is in this context that Wowow targets cyclotourists with its RaceViz product line. “This group of amateur cyclists continues to grow, which inevitably also increases the risk of accidents. If you consider how many of such fatal accidents bring it to the headlines, you know that we still have quite a bit of work cut out for us.
So it should be no surprise that Wowow tries to establish a close connection with the end user. “In this way, we can communicate directly with cyclotourists, our most vulnerable target group.
We not only want to improve their visibility but also want to raise awareness about this issue. In this way, we hope to give cyclists the place in traffic that they deserve, with mutual respect for other road users”, concludes Peter. “I know from own experience that car drivers show more respect to cyclists when they make sure they are properly visible.”