By Erin Podolak
June 15, 2011
Bike lanes, while useful, also carry their fair share of danger when motorists simply aren’t aware that a cyclist is in their vicinity. But, a new laser-based signaling system to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists may solve the problem by projecting a bright green bike symbol onto the pavement ahead of a cyclist.
BLAZE is a small, battery operated device that can be attached to the handlebars of bicycles, motorcycles or scooters. It projects a bright green laser image onto the road ahead to alert other motorists that there is someone in the bike lane. The image can be made to flash to increase visibility and can even be used in sunny daylight conditions.
The device was created by Emily Brooke, a final-year design student at the University of Brighton in England. Brooke worked to develop the system with road safety experts, the Brighton & Hove City Council, the Brighton & Hove Bus Company and driving psychologists.
According to Brooke, 80% of accidents in the bike lane occur when cyclists are traveling straight ahead, and another vehicle moves into the bike lane without noticing the cyclist. Bicycles can be difficult to spot on busy city streets, which is made all the more difficult by blind spots, where a bicycle becomes invisible to a nearby driver. BLAZE allows motorists to see the symbol before the bicycle, which could prove useful in identifying when the bike lane is occupied.
The invention recently won Brooke a place at Babson College in the US as a part of their entrepreneurship program where she will continue developing the product.