Picture the scene. You are a bus driver in London and you want to turn left. You glance around and it looks clear. As you start to make your turn you spot a flashing green light with a symbol of a cyclist on the ground. You look in your mirror and see the cyclist coming.
That’s the thinking behind a new bike light called Blaze, that has just been successfully funded for over £25,000 on Kickstarter. Is it worth the money? 416 backers seem to think so.
Rather than regurgitate the Kickstarter page for you, I wanted to take a look with my own eyes. I met with Emily and William in an area than must have the most hotels in London and got a first glance.
The buzz word “revolutionary” is thrown around a lot, particularly by Boris Johnson, but the Blaze really is revolutionary. There are hundreds of bike lights out there, yet, none of the engineers have thought about attaching a laser that projects a symbol of a cyclist. The closest thing is the laser lane rear bike light.
Of course the innovations don’t stop there. The Blaze can also sense when it is not attached to your bike and will turn the laser off. This is a useful safety feature.
For someone accustomed to riding with tiny bike lights, the Blaze looks rather large. However, this shouldn’t be an issue in most scenarios, and I’m sure most cyclists would prefer a larger bike light, if it meant better visibility.
The Blaze can be used as a standard bike light. A separate button activates the laser. You can also choose whether it should be flashing. This helps draw further attention.
The light currently lacks in USB charging capabilities. Fortunately, according to Emily, this was the most requested feature and will be included in the first 300 that are shipped out to Kickstarter funders.
Will the Blaze bike light actually keep you safe?
That’s the million dollar question.
The Blaze certainly greatly improves visibility. The laser is bright and vivid. It remains visible even as car headlights shine on the location the light is pointing. At a glance, it instantly draws your attention.
Buses have large windows providing good viewing angles. This is less so on a Heavy Goods Vehicle, where the position of the drivers cabin, results in huge blind spots. This is why over 50% of fatal incidents involve a cyclist not been seen by a HGV driver.
As a HGV driver glances, there’s a chance they’ll spot the light on the road ahead, as long as you have it pointing far enough in front. According to the Kickstarter page, the Blaze is best positioned so that it shines 5 metres ahead of your bike.
It still greatly depends on the attentiveness of the driver.
It’s also most useful during the winter, when we have less daylight hours. During the daytime, it becomes much harder to see the laser projection.
If you’d like to be one of the first people to get hold of a Blaze bike light, you can do so for the next 20 days on their Kickstarter page. In the next 6 to 12 months, it should also make its way in to bike shops.
Overall, the Blaze bike light is a welcome innovation and I’m excited to see it more widely used and tested.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.