Bicycles

Student-designed bicycle device designed to save lives

Student-designed bicycle devic...
BLAZE is a protype device that alerts drivers to the presence of a cyclist, by a projecting a laser image onto the road in front of the bicycle(Photo: University of Brighton)
BLAZE is a protype device that alerts drivers to the presence of a cyclist, by a projecting a laser image onto the road in front of the bicycle
(Photo: University of Brighton)
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BLAZE is a protype device that alerts drivers to the presence of a cyclist, by a projecting a laser image onto the road in front of the bicycle(Photo: University of Brighton)
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BLAZE is a protype device that alerts drivers to the presence of a cyclist, by a projecting a laser image onto the road in front of the bicycle
(Photo: University of Brighton)

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.

Brooke consulted with road safety experts, Brighton & Hove City Council, the Brighton & Hove Bus Company and driving psychologists when designing BLAZE. The resulting invention has won her a paid-for course at Babson College in Massachusetts, where she will continue to develop the product. She has also been shortlisted for an Enterprise Award, for innovation.

"With BLAZE, you see the bike before the cyclist and I believe this could really make a difference in the key scenarios threatening cyclists' lives on the roads," she stated.

Emily's idea is reminiscent of LightLane, a bicycle-mounted prototype device that uses lasers to project a virtual bicycle lane beside and behind the user's bike. Instead of warning drivers that a cyclist is beside them, however, it's intended more to get drivers to give cyclists enough room on the road.

Source: Bicycle Design

22 comments
Michael Mantion
I love riding bikes, I hate that bikes have to share the road, I don\'t think this will help much it might even be more distracting until people get use to it. I would have to think in real life that laser image would be blurry. if even noticeable.
Doug MacLeod
Aside from making more and better cycle lanes, the problem with cycling on roads is not a technical one, it is a legal one and the Netherlands has it sorted.
Dutch drivers speed, change lanes at will, hang on your back bumper like leeches, don\'t let you out a junctions and are quite happy to jump out for a bit of road rage and fisticuffs if you cut them up in a car.
What makes them such lambs when it comes to bicycles in the Dutch legal presumption that the cyclist is always in the right. Knowing that if you bash your car into someone who is unicycling naked the wrong way up a one way street at midnight with no lights it will still be your fault because you are in a car makes you a very watchful driver indeed.
It sounds weird, but in practice it works. Modern vehicles are like armoured cars built for racing, whilst cyclists really are unprotected. No car or truck driver is going to get hurt squashing someone on a bike. What the Dutch law does is even things up a bit.
Evan Webb Stuart
If they don\'t see a biker, what\'s going to make them see a projected image of a biker signal on the ground. There a lot of things going on. I\'m sure a flashing light on the ground is not going to make that much of a difference for a very drunk, distracted, or sleepy driver.
James Donohue
I tried to build my own, having seen something like this before (online). But it only projects a red dot. Maybe I need some kind of lens or prism to project lines? Anyway, I managed to pry a red laser element out of a $3.00 toy spinning top. This toy top had a centrifugal switch built in so the laser would not light unless the top was spinning, and even then, it was project downward, so it could not accidentally blind anyone. Interesting way of building in a safeguard. Anyway, I removed the laser LED, and mounted it in a candy mint tin, and wired up a battery holder and a mini SPST switch. It uses three AAA batteries. The main drawback is that it gets hot after about five minutes, and begins to get dimmer. The device is mounted on my bike\'s left rear pannier and projects a red dot about fifteen feet behind my bike. I think the device is more needed *behind* the bike, since I already have adequate headlights.
Wombat56
Looks like it needs high powered green lasers which would make it illegal in Australia, due to some idiots using lasers to try to blind aircraft pilots.
Pity, it looks like a neat idea.
David Wong
Yes, the idea is good but not practical. The laser and the laser image will distract other road users.
Stein Varjord
I\'ve never seen this in use, of course, so I can\'t say much about how visible it would be. If it\'s a quite sharp and bright image, this might have some effect, but not a significant one. The trouble is the psychology of driving a car. The driver is separated from the surroundings inside a comfortable safety cage listening to the music of choice, while landscapes pass by quickly, seeming frozen while the only apparently mobile objects are the continuous stream of other cars, all behaving predictably and sorting themselves out. This does not promote an alert attitude. All you have to do, mostly, is make sure you stick to your lane. Driving is mostly a very easy chore that demands little effort and no talent at all.
Enter bicycles. They move quite quickly, as quickly as cars in urban areas. BUT they lack the visual volume and the two bright lights far apart in each corner. The car driver has been lulled into the habit of only worrying about such configurations: Big volumes with lights in each corner, conveniently making it easier to judge distance. Bicycles (and partly motorbikes) do not compute in the head of the driver. They are in effect actually invisible to a large number of car drivers. This is NOT an exaggeration. Lots of years and very many kilometres on bikes and in cars have proven this to me, from both sides.
There are some possible ways to remedy the consequences of this lack of attention. - Completely separate bike traffic from car traffic. - Make bikes way more visible. - Make car drivers more attentive. - Build bikes with indestructible cages. Not all of those possibilities are realistic or effective enough. I think bike visibility can have an important effect, but maybe it should be by vividly coloured flags above the bike or so. Higher up than the general traffic. I don\'t know. A bit of light on the tarmac, well, maybe? The point that is actually the right one though is that car drivers generally are not attentive enough, by far. Valid towards more than bikes too.
I think what Doug says above here about the car ALWAYS getting the blame, iif it hits a bicycle (or a pedestrian) no matter how and where it happened, would raise the level of attention significantly! It would remove some of the \"safe feeling\" in a car. The driver might fear pedestrians or bicyclists might want to fake accidents to make money out of it. Well, maybe some will, if they\'re stupid enough, but that will make the inattentive majority of car drivers wake up! Good. Go for it!
mommus
This isn\'t a new idea by any means, and the only person who will see the projected image in traffic will be the cyclist.
Bob Tackett
Just put a green flasher on top of your helmet.
flechd
In my view & experience as a motorist monitoring just about every corner around my cockpit whilst in motion & usually in Cruise control mode, I am of the view and opinion that cyclists of today\'s age & era, that tries to dabble between vehicles in congested highways and narrow lanes, should be better highlighted!!!
By this, I mean more illumination on the person and/or the cycle he/she is peddling or scootering on.
These days, in some countries where 24/24 lighting is a default requirement, the VERY bright but costing much less in power outage is applied through LED lighting mounted inside vehicle headlamps.
I may spot that green beam but would not say that for an illiterate and or ignorant, careless or inconsiderate driver that pretends to feel he/she is the only road user on any road conditions. Thus, a considerable / adequate string of low consumption LED lightning mounted on a cycle, scooter and bike would be a strong noticeably distraction albeit through the side mirrors or rear inside mirror.
If most do notice the flashing lights creeping up from behind by a Police or ambulance... to then cruise aside to let them through, it would work from this same basic principle.