This article was published in 2015, in Newsletter 122.
In this newsletter we have already learned about sharrows. While it would be impossible to paint sharrows along every road, the Blaze Laserlight has come close to a solution. This new invention uses a laser to project a green bicycle symbol metres in front of the bicycle for the entirety of the journey. I was interested to know if the light would improve my cycling experience so I asked Blaze for a sample to review.
Entrepreneur Emily Brooke and her product and business have won numerous awards and accolades and it is easy to see why. The light stands out as a piece of excellent design even beyond the laser technology. It is reminiscent of Apple products. Sleek yet sturdy and slightly futuristic, with the user experience well considered. Blaze are also strong supporters of the Near Miss study (www.nearmiss.bike).
Installation and use
Installing the light on my bike was easy. The light came with the Allen key to attach the fixing to the bike easily and securely. It was much more secure and subtle than other lights I have used. I absolutely love the way the light attaches to the bike. It is so simple to do, even in low light and with gloved hands. Simply hold the lever like a trigger and put into place. An additional safety feature is that the laser cannot switch on unless it is properly in place on the bike.
Once in place it switches on easily with push buttons which, again, are easy to operate with gloved hands, something I have found difficult with other lights. I used the light in a number of heavy downpours and it was completely unaffected.
The light and the Laserlight
There is a normal white LED light with both flashing and brightness settings (100 or 300 lumens). The light can be operated separately from the laser. The laser can also be operated on the still or flashing settings. It projects a green bicycle icon about 5 metres in front of the bike.
The projection is only visible in low-light environments. I also found its visibility was reduced when there was a lot of ambient light from street lights and cars – especially after rain when the road surface was reflective.
Does the laser change the behaviour of other road users?
The most obvious change in behaviour was that of pedestrians. Pedestrians frequently noticed the lights and paid more attention before stepping out onto the road. It was also helpful for pedestrians to have a visual sign that I was behind them, particularly for people with headphones on who would not hear the bell. In general, it was hard to know if drivers noticed the light: I seemed to experience the same amount of bad driver behaviour. The light was very useful on the crowded Romsey and Petersfield streets. It helped to increase my visibility to parallel-parked cars and at junctions where the projection forewarned drivers that I was approaching from a right angle.
Do I recommend the Blaze Laserlight?
I certainly think that the light offers benefits above and beyond a standard light. It is a high quality, easy to use and attractive accessory for the bike. It is, however, expensive. The light retails at £125, a price which may be unattainable for many. If you have the money to spare then it certainly makes an excellent quality light; however, I am unsure how much it can help to change dangerous and inattentive driver behaviour.
The Near Miss study will continue this year between 19 October and 1 November. You can find out more or sign up to participate at www.nearmiss.bike.
Roxanne De Beaux