There’s an increasing number of accidents involving cyclists happening in the worlds major cities, including New York and London. As schemes like the ‘Boris bike’ continue to gain global momentum, there’s an increasing need to make our roads safer for cyclists. Step forward technology, or more specifically, the Blaze Laserlight.
Similar technology has been discussed around surfing, with the aim of protecting surfers from shark attacks. However, with the Blaze, the aim is to take a more preventative and proactive approach to road safety, as opposed to focussing on better safety equipment if an accident happens. So this gadget delivers a warning signal 16-20 feet ahead of the cyclist. This approach aims to ‘communicate, not illuminate’, and thus warns other road users (cars, pedestrians and other cyclists) to the upcoming bike rider.
Studies show that cyclists are most at danger when they’re being overtaken by other vehicles. The percetage of RTA’s that happen this type of situation is said to be as high as 79 percent. Cyclists are hindered by being the slowest road users, and where cars and other motor propelled vehicles have the power needed to escape dangerous situations cyclists don’t. Also, unlike other vehicles, cyclists aren’t armed with rear-view mirrors, and thus have considerable 180 degree blind-spots.
The other danger faced by cyclists, is the general difficulty in spotting them in urban environments. Where cars and busses are noisy as they approach, bikes are silent. So road crossers who rely more heavily on sound verses sight are a constant cause of cyclist-pedestrian crashes. As a side-point, its been noted that there are considerably more crashes involving the quieter electric cars and pedestrians, for the same reasons.
So how does the Blaze Laserlight actually help? Its modality involves firing a green laser image of a cyclist 15-20 feet in front of the rider, providing an additional warning to other road users. This gives the rider two forms – their physical form and the laser – to double their chances of being spotted by other road users. Its a remarkably simple and scalable approach to saving cyclists lives, especially in the dangerous dusk conditions.
The Laserlight Blaze could be the biggest cycling safety device for 2014. It also includes a super-bright white LED light alongside the laser. Its built with the British roads in mind too, being fully waterproof. The device might become ‘smart’ in years to come too, being chargeable via USB. It wouldn’t surprise if this got iterated into a cycling computer, with route analysis and other safety information being fed back whilst it charges.
The Laserlight will launch in March, costing £125 or $200. It began on Kickstarter, where it was heavily backed and drew a lot of psoitive press as a hot cycling safety gadget for 2014. You can pre-order it from the Blaze website now.