For cyclists, the most dangerous place on the road is just behind a vehicle going in the same direction. When a car or truck makes a right turn, a cyclist is not far enough back to be seen in the rear-view mirror, and not far enough in front to be spotted from the windshield. The cyclist is invisible, unless drivers take a conscious look over their shoulders.
It’s this problem that the Blaze light tries to solve. By projecting a green image of a bike a few feet in front of its wheel, the light effectively elongates a bike’s presence on the road, telling people it’s arriving before it gets there. It’s an elegant answer to the perennial blind spot issue.
“Having a bigger footprint on the road helps you be seen in time,” says Emily Brooke, a young British designer who first developed the concept at college in 2011.
Blaze is actually two lights in one. It includes a conventional white light and a green laser projection unit. See more in the video here:
Aside from drivers turning in front of cyclists, Brooke points to two other dangerous scenarios the Blaze corrects. One is when cars pull out of side streets onto larger roads. Research shows that drivers tend to look in the middle of the lane, but not along the curb where cyclists are, she says. The other involves pedestrians who listen for cars, but don’t bother looking for cyclists. A green light in front of their toes means they’re less likely to step out and cause an accident.
Brooke says drivers also tend to give Blaze-users more space on the road. “One thing we’ve heard from early users is that motorists are taking longer to cut back in after overtaking,” she says. “They’ll wait until they’ve gone past the green symbol before going back to the lane.”
$200 is a lot of money for a bike light, no question. But it could be a small price to pay for a safety innovation.