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Kickstarted front light now available

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.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

38 comments

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ChairRDRF [357 posts] 3 years ago
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So - how exactly is this supposed to work? (Sorry, it's a bit difficult to view the images so I may be missing something).

Drivers are supposedly looking at the surface of the tarmac - rather than looking out for cyclists etc. - and then see an image which most cyclists won't project, and then look back to where they were supposed to be looking, and, er....

Maybe it's just me.

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rich22222 [166 posts] 3 years ago
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People say we should have separate cycle paths, but we haven’t got the space in the UK.

Sorry, but I'm out.

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oldstrath [787 posts] 3 years ago
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"People say we should have separate cycle paths, but we haven’t got the space in the UK"

Not like those fortunate people in the Netherlands or Switzerland with their vast open spaces and low population density.

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movingtarget [144 posts] 3 years ago
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What exactly did you like/dislike about it out of curiosity?

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qwerky [183 posts] 3 years ago
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I backed the project on Kickstarter and have one of the lights in my posession. Not great I'm afraid.

http://humancyclist.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/blaze-bike-light-is-here-but-...

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movingtarget [144 posts] 3 years ago
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qwerky wrote:

I backed the project on Kickstarter and have one of the lights in my posession. Not great I'm afraid.

Sorry for the double post (stranger that it posted mine before yours even though I was referencing your post??). To clarify what did you think of the light on pavement visibility? Sounds like the mount was a fail. Was it visible to motorists in a practical way while it was functioning?

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Nick T [1074 posts] 3 years ago
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Err, Sam and Holly are brother and sister, so the daughter-in-law bit needs editing.

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willdeath [33 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

Furthermore... by the time someone see this projections a meter or two in front of a moving bike ... it's too late to react.

This is one of ideas that was not really thought out I think.

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Malaconotus [104 posts] 3 years ago
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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.)

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Cyclist [295 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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Critchio [227 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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arfa [851 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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jmaccelari [252 posts] 3 years ago
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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...

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Dunlin [13 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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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?

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Leodis [424 posts] 3 years ago
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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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MikeOnABike [104 posts] 3 years ago
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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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Nat Jas Moe [162 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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80sMatchbox [37 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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ped [273 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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jasecd [449 posts] 3 years ago
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Dunlin - do you know the name of these strobes on eBay?

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DavidC [157 posts] 3 years ago
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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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DavidC [157 posts] 3 years ago
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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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andyp [1495 posts] 3 years ago
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safety wings...could be useful if they were longer. 40cm of room? no thank you.

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Jack Osbourne snr [673 posts] 3 years ago
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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?

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IanW1968 [326 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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Username [210 posts] 3 years ago
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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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philtregear [121 posts] 3 years ago
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pointless, possibly dangerous as it may encourage a false ense of security.

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jollygoodvelo [1652 posts] 3 years ago
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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...

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userfriendly [610 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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