There are exciting times ahead in the world of innovative technology for city cycling. In October 2015 we started selling the Blaze Laserlight, a brilliantly innovative front cycle light which projects a green cycle symbol six metres in front of the rider, substantially increasing your ‘footprint’ (and therefore visibility) on the road. We have been pretty excited by this innovation and it seems that you guys have been too - since we added the Laserlight to our range of city cycle lights they’ve been selling like the proverbial hot cakes, with customers from the UK, US, Japan, Germany and France all choosing to try out Blaze’s innovative approach to increasing visibility for riders.
Now the excitement has ramped up another level, especially if you happen to be a) a big transport planning geek like me or b) a bit of a Star Wars fan (fear not, this blog contains no plot spoilers for The Force Awakens!). After trialling the Laserlight on a sample of London’s hire bikes this autumn, scheme sponsor Santander, operator Serco, and Transport for London (the government organisation responsible for most aspects of London’s transport system) have decided to fit all 11,500 Santander Cycles with the Laserlight. This decision follows positive results from these user trials and from independent research on the effectiveness of the Laserlight. The use of the Laserlight on the cycle hire bikes is expected to improve safety for users and to make people feel more confident using the scheme in the dark.
To celebrate the news of the roll out of the light to all Santander Cycles, a new Star Wars themed Santander Cycles-Blaze Laserlight film has been made. The film features the ambassadors of the Santander brand, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Rory McIlroy and Jenson Button dressed as Storm Troopers and riding Laserlight-fitted Santander Cycles. JJ Abrams even had a hand in the making of the film, requesting some tweaks to it before it was launched. The use of the Star Wars brand and backing in such a way as this is unprecedented and much credit is due to Disney and Lucas Studios for approving the film (apparently because of the strength of the safety innovation).
Before the Laserlight was trialled on the London cycle hire bikes, independent research into its effectiveness was carried out. This found that the Laserlight provides superior visibility over existing LED front lights, which backs up the anecdotal evidence which Blaze already had on the effectiveness of the light. Compared with the standard cycle hire front LED light, the Laserlight substantially increased the visibility of the rider to drivers of a range of vehicles, including buses and HGVs. Blaze’s article on the research can be read here and the official press release can be read here.
Update October 2016: 4,000 of the London Cycle Hire scheme bikes have been fitted with the Blaze Laserlight so far, and over the next nine months all 11,500 Santander Cycle hire bikes will have the Laserlight fitted to them - if you're in London town any time soon, look out for the Laserlight's green bike symbol being projected by Santander Cycles riders - chances are you won't be able to miss it as more and more of the Blaze Laserlights are fitted to the bikes!