Bransons back Blaze laser-projection bike safety light

Kickstarted front light now available

by John Stevenson   February 14, 2014  

Blaze laserlight

The Blaze Laserlight, which gives advanced warning of the approach of a bike by projecting a bike symbol on the road ahead, has landed a £300,000 cash injection from venture capital firm Index Venture and Sam and Holly Branson, the son and daughter-in-law of Virgin empire billionaire Richard Branson.

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, and the investment, Blaze is today taking orders for the innovative light, and designer Emily Brooke is planning a whole series of urban cycling products to follow on.

Brooke came up with the idea while studying product design at Brighton University.

“Three years ago I’d never been on a bike before,” Brooke told the Evening Standard’s Oscar Williams-Grut. “I decided to cycle the length of the UK for charity during my studies. I realised the countryside was great but the city was a nightmare.

“In my final year we had to design a product from start to finish and I gave myself the theme of urban cycling. I spent six months working with a driving psychologist, the bus company and a lot of other cyclists – one stat stood out, the fact that 79 per cent of cyclists hit are travelling straight ahead and the vehicle turns into them.”

She hit on the idea of a light that projected a bike symbol on the road several metres ahead of the bike.

Brooke told Elizabeth Anderson of Management Today: “Having a laser projection that serves as early warning could transform bicycle safety.”

Over a year of development, numerous prototypes and a crash course in starting and running a business later, Blaze is taking orders for the Laserlight, at a cost of £125.

For that you get the aluminium-bodied Laserlight itself, which is a 300-lumen front light as well as projecting a bike symbol on the road; a USB cable that charges the light via an Apple-style magnetic socket; and a steel mounting bracket with shims to fit handlebars from 22mm to 32mm.

With big-money backing, Brooke is already planning to branch out, with a focus on urban cycling and safety.

“We want to make Blaze a global urban cycling brand,” she said. “We’ve already got six other products we’re looking at, such as bike locks and helmets.

 

“Over half a million journeys are made in London every day but personal safety is still by far the biggest barrier to participation.

"We are very conscious that making cycling safer requires equal parts infrastructure investment, political will and a change in the attitude of a lot of road users, regardless of the number of wheels, but we very much hope that our light would make a difference.".”

Commenting on the deal, Holly and Sam Branson, daughter and son of entrepreneur Richard Branson, said: “We invest in entrepreneurial activities to help make a difference in the world and Blaze are a brand using exciting technology to make the experience of urban cycling better.”

38 user comments

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I also backed this through Kickstarter but didn't get as far as trying the light because the bracket obviously wasn't up to the job and the light was loose in it. There's been an update to say new brackets are on their way.

(Also very disappointed about the "People say we should have separate cycle paths, but we haven’t got the space in the UK." comment and will be complaining to Emily about it.)

posted by Malaconotus [39 posts]
14th February 2014 - 19:27

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willdeath wrote:
OK, I drive and I cycle and I walk - in London.

I don't look at the floor I look from waste high upwards so this would not help. As a driver a bright flashing LED light is what I see in a busy environment day or night.

That's because your a cyclist, you are looking out for us! Logically, smokers/texters/music changing/outright mongs etc etc will normally be looking at the floor..... So just maybe, it might work on the less vigilant mongs? However for me it would be a belt and braces accessory.

However how these people who develop these lights think they can compete against an ebay special I don't know? Full blast... The mongs will always see you.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

― George Carlin

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posted by Cyclist [144 posts]
14th February 2014 - 20:08

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Im not paying that kind of money for something I think motorists will think, 'oh thats a pretty green light of a cyclist' and while they ponder it and before they realise where its coming from the bike rider is on top of them. It also look like its manufacturing cost is around a tenner.

I paid 65 quid for a Cateye Nanoshot Plus, which is pretty much my miserly, tight-fisted limit for a front lamp. On full power (600 lumens) even pointed down to the road I get flashed by motorists all the time and its great though on unlit cycle tracks, its like taking my artificial daylight with me.

On normal power + strobe I still occasionally get flashed by motorists and its more than adequate to ride at 22mph at night on lit roads, but still spot potholes in enough time to avoid them at that speed.

If I cannot be seen with that and rear red strobe light then I am not going to be seen. Can't see this helping. And the bus driver in the article's image appears to me to be looking in his mirror not on the ground, but that might be a moot point as I dont think he even ahs line of sight to the cycle light on the road. Bad choice for a pic to show what the device can do in my opinion. Its just too expensive and riders still need a front light in my opinion as well.

posted by Critchio [106 posts]
14th February 2014 - 20:17

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well I backed the start up too and got a light for less than £65.
I backed it as I thought it would be good to back a British start up and I wish them well with their venture.
I have used it now for nearly a week in some pretty vile conditions and would observe that the light is fine but the laser image is scarcely visible at anything other than slow speeds due to road vibration (poor surfaces).
It does have some use in getting the attention of the zombie pedestrians who normally step out in front of you.
It's nicely finished but not the finished article.
I have even had a cyclist in front of me complain that it is distracting....
in terms of bang for buck, you can't beat the cree light but that is nowhere near as neat a design.

posted by arfa [473 posts]
14th February 2014 - 20:33

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I cycled past some guy with one of these the other morning (while still dark) and it was absolutely useless. I could just see the symbol when I was next to it. A £20 light is more visible. I shudder to think of anyone trusting their safety to one of these...

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

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posted by jmaccelari [150 posts]
14th February 2014 - 20:44

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I was leaving Herne Hill velodrome last night in my car and it's hard to see down the road due to a) the parked cars and b) the curve in the road. A cyclisI rode was riding up with one of these and we saw the light well in advance through the other car windows due to the green glow which was unusual. The cycle symbol on the road was about 3m ahead of her, which wouldn't give much reaction time if that's what you saw first. I guess if you overtook one, you'd perhaps not pull in until beyond the light, but powerfull strobe lights that reflect back from way down the road would be more effective.

I bought some of these strobes as people only see you if they look your way. Now they see all sorts of traffic furniture reflecting upto 50m away and turn to see the source. Then they see me.

I've not had anyone pull out, step out, cut me up, or turn left across me in the 4 months I've had them commuting 11 miles into London. I have had traffic make space in lanes well ahead when riding past them.

I've also had police compliment them and the effect they have. Motorcyclists have wanted to know where they could get them (eBay special).

But her projections were very visible and it all helps.

posted by Dunlin [11 posts]
14th February 2014 - 20:47

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Can we have a kickstarter project for a laser projected "leave this much room" zone to my right? And whenever a driver intrudes, the laser turns into a lightsabre and cuts off that part of the car that went inside?

Work harder. Buy a tank.

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posted by userfriendly [273 posts]
14th February 2014 - 21:10

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Gotta beat segregated cycle lanes aka glass alley/dog shit avenues which are packed full of 2-5mph hiviz clowns.

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posted by Leodis [187 posts]
14th February 2014 - 21:20

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Why has the cyclist in the photograph stopped at the side of the bus and not carried on into the bike box?

Also there is no way that the bus driver can see that green bike projection on the road from his position.

Finally, what driver of any motorised transport drives along looking down at the road?

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posted by MikeOnABike [26 posts]
14th February 2014 - 22:02

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I've seen a couple of these on the road and found it the most distracting thing ever. I couldn't make out what it was at first or where it was coming from due to the vibration moving the image about. Then said owner cycled through a red light, is it me or is there something wrong.

[URL=http://veloviewer.com/athlete/3303236/][/URL

posted by Nat Jas Moe [29 posts]
14th February 2014 - 22:44

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My brother did the Kickstarter thing...and was going to give it to me for Xmas. But before he told me this, I told him about my reservations of its effectiveness. He kept it for himself..

A light designed by a non-cyclist....hmmm.

posted by 80sMatchbox [12 posts]
14th February 2014 - 23:13

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Good on them for getting it funded and to market, but I really don't like the scaremongering-like, random stat quoting marketing BS.

It's just an[other] expensive light. As important as lights are, that's really all it is.

posted by ped [165 posts]
14th February 2014 - 23:21

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Dunlin - do you know the name of these strobes on eBay?

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [143 posts]
14th February 2014 - 23:55

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'Can we have a kickstarter project for a laser projected "leave this much room" zone to my right?'

For years there has been more than one version of this available. Try a Google image search for "cycling laser light".

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posted by DavidC [38 posts]
15th February 2014 - 4:10

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High-tech solutions are fun and exciting but safety wings are effective (and very nerdy).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_safety_wing

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posted by DavidC [38 posts]
15th February 2014 - 4:20

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safety wings...could be useful if they were longer. 40cm of room? no thank you.

posted by andyp [850 posts]
15th February 2014 - 9:58

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How about a bar end mounted laser with a bit more oomph?

Say... Enough to bubble a tyre or take the paint off a nearside door at 1 metre?

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

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posted by Jack Osbourne snr [304 posts]
15th February 2014 - 10:15

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Most of the dangerous actions I see are purposeful , this will just give that sorted person advance notice of a target.

posted by IanW1968 [151 posts]
15th February 2014 - 10:18

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I would worry about it being green.

I could just imagine the motorist in court: "your honour, I saw a green light and I proceeded across the junction".

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posted by Username [49 posts]
15th February 2014 - 13:07

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pointless, possibly dangerous as it may encourage a false ense of security.

posted by philtregear [72 posts]
15th February 2014 - 20:31

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With the possible exception of the pedestrian about to walk out in front of the bike - every single example of the light 'alerting a fellow road user' would have been covered by a decent bright normal light and proper (for which read safe) road positioning.

I'm sorry, I love that there's a steady stream of innovative ideas around bike-borne technology and I hope that the designer continues to come up with more ideas, but this isn't worth the money.

If it was two lasers mounted at either end of the bars so that they converged in mid-air 50m ahead of the bike, then we might be talking...

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [800 posts]
15th February 2014 - 21:57

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DavidC wrote:

userfriendly wrote:

Can we have a kickstarter project for a laser projected "leave this much room" zone to my right? And whenever a driver intrudes, the laser turns into a lightsabre and cuts off that part of the car that went inside?

For years there has been more than one version of this available. Try a Google image search for "cycling laser light".

Sadly none of them have the important 'lightsabre' bit of functionality.

On a more serious note, none of them are wide enough - the projected "lane" extends barely half a metre to each side.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

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posted by userfriendly [273 posts]
15th February 2014 - 22:54

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andyp wrote:
safety wings...could be useful if they were longer. 40cm of room? no thank you.

It's not 40 cm of room — it's an extra 40 cm of room. I think that is quite useful.

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posted by DavidC [38 posts]
16th February 2014 - 6:39

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userfriendly wrote:
On a more serious note, none of them are wide enough - the projected "lane" extends barely half a metre to each side.

I agree the projected lane is not very wide with these devices. Anyway I find it doubtful that any projected lane would have the same visibility or psychological effect on drivers (making them pass wider) as an ugly, old safety wing — which also has the benefit of working day or night.

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posted by DavidC [38 posts]
16th February 2014 - 6:44

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'It's not 40 cm of room — it's an extra 40 cm of room. I think that is quite useful'

Extra...from where? The seatstay? It'd be more useful from the widest part of the bike, and it still wouldn't be wide enough.

Making your bike ever so slightly wider isn't going to stop idiot drivers not giving you enough room.

* interestingly, there's a woman who commutes on my route most days who has a safety wing. It doesn't reach as far into the traffic lane as her arse does. That's how useful they are.

posted by andyp [850 posts]
16th February 2014 - 9:51

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Jack Osbourne snr wrote:
How about a bar end mounted laser with a bit more oomph?

Say... Enough to bubble a tyre or take the paint off a nearside door at 1 metre?

A bidon of brake fluid will do that for you. Just remember not to take a chug of it Devil

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posted by giff77 [1045 posts]
16th February 2014 - 10:25

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Saw a demo of this light at the London Bike Show and was quite interested until my mind started freewheeling.

All I could see as this green cycle danced about was a cat chasing a spotlight.

I'm very sorry! I think it's very clever and invented and promoted for the right reasons, but, I can't see it fulfilling it's brief. Imagine a junction in rush-hour with twenty or so of these lights. Cyclists have difficulty positioning normal lights so they don't dazzle drivers. Think of the new excuse - "I was momentarily blinded by his laser officer!"

posted by levermonkey [356 posts]
16th February 2014 - 23:04

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andyp wrote:
Making your bike ever so slightly wider isn't going to stop idiot drivers not giving you enough room.

But it can and often does. Being idiots, their minds are easily tricked. Safety wings are not intended to be a brick wall that will stop a car — they are a visual trick which alters many drivers' passing behaviour.

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posted by DavidC [38 posts]
17th February 2014 - 6:48

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Is it just me, or from some angles does this look like a big green cock and balls? Just saying like...

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posted by carlosjenno [37 posts]
17th February 2014 - 9:14

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Saw these at the bike show. I don't think much of this to be honest, especially when you look at their website, which shows the cyclist using the light who has stopped way before the Advance Stopping Lane, in a bus-stop box and with the bus driver seemingly unable to see the lazer light on the ground - https://www.blaze.cc/product/lights/laserlight. It's also very expensive for what it is and apparently the fixing bracket isn't very robust.

Surely a better design would be a similar lazer light mounted to the nearside of these big vehicles (buses or lorries), which beams a light on the road, to show cyclists where their blindspot is? I just can't imagine a driver looking in their rear view mirror and seeing an image of a green cyclist on the road surface, especially given that some are not seeing cyclists with high powered conventional lights as it stands

posted by only1redders [11 posts]
20th February 2014 - 13:38

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