Many people are afraid of riding their bicycles on busy roads full of motorized vehicles, and it’s easy to understand why. Not only are bikes slower and offer less protection than cars, but they can also be more difficult for drivers to notice. A device invented by a British design student, however, could help level the playing field a little. It’s called BLAZE, and it alerts drivers to the presence of a cyclist by projecting a laser image onto the road in front of the bicycle.
“Eighty per cent of cycle accidents occur when bicycles travel straight ahead and a vehicle maneuvers into them,” said Emily Brooke, a final-year Product Design student at the University of Brighton. “The most common contributory factor is ‘failed to look properly’ on the part of a vehicle driver. The evidence shows the bike simply is not seen on city streets.”
She designed BLAZE in order to get those cyclists seen. The device mounts on the handlebars of a bicycle (or a motorcycle or scooter), from where it shoots a bright green sharrow (shared lane) symbol onto the road, several feet ahead of the cyclist. That symbol is visible even in daylight, and can be made to flash on and off.
The idea is that motorists, even if they don’t see the actual cyclist riding in their blind spot, will notice the image on the road and realize that a cyclist is behind/beside them.