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Citi Bike's New Safety Feature: Bike-Shaped Laser Projections

Gleaming icons appear on the pavement well ahead of cyclists, giving them enhanced safety in blind spots.

Blaze

New York might still have a problem with motorists blocking bike lanes, but Citi Bike users now have a flashy new tool at their disposal to help carve out their own space on the road.

The bike-share program is installing Blaze Laserlights on 250 Citi Bikes, giving cyclists a new safety feature by projecting green bicycle symbols on the pavement 20 feet ahead. With luck, these little laser shows will announce cyclists’ presence to drivers and pedestrians well ahead of time, especially when they’re emerging from blind spots like corners, alleys, and the sides of vehicles.

The Blaze pilot program will begin this winter, following an experiment with the same lights in London. Here’s more from Citi Bike:

Extensive research on the Laserlight on London’s bike-share fleet revealed that a cyclist with a Laserlight at night is even more visible than a cyclist in daytime.

The vast majority of London bus drivers surveyed said the light made it easier to notice and react to cyclists at night, while 75% of cyclists felt more confident cycling with a Laserlight.

The initiative also aims to grow ridership among women, whom studies have shown are more likely to ride in safer traffic environments with features like protected bike lanes and one-way streets. Results in London indicated that this outcome is likely.

For folks who’d rather pedal without lasers, you can turn that function off and just use the devices as white, 300-lumen LEDs. Here’s hoping Citi Bike finds a way to really secure the lights into the frames, as the 109-component gadgets retail for about $150 apiece.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.