London startup Blaze hit an important milestone today as it announced its Laserlight will be integrated into 11,500 Boris bikes across the English capital.
Blaze’s Laserlight is designed to improve rider safety by projecting a green laser image five to six metres in front of the cyclist, thereby making them more visible to drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists.
The company — which graduated from the Entrepreneur First company building programme and is backed by US heavyweight investor Index Ventures — said the partnership with sponsor Santander and operator Transport for London will allow it to “take things to the next level”.
An “integrated version” of the Blaze Laserlight will be fitted to the Santander bikes, which can be hired from docking stations across London from as little as £2.
Independent research from the the Transport Research Laboratory showed a Laserlight decreases the blind spot around a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) by over 25%. HGVs have been involved in several cyclist fatalities on London roads, with drivers of such vehicles often saying they can’t see cyclists.
But at £125, the Blaze Laserlight is considerably more expensive than your average bike light and it’s not clear how many units have been sold by the company to date.
According to technology news website Alphr Santander is paying £768,000 of the £860,000 needed to fit the lights across the entire Boris bike fleet, with TfL making up the remainder.
Cofounded by Emily Brooke and Philip Ellis in 2012, Blaze wrote on its blog today: “We are thrilled to share with you our biggest news of the year.
“For us, this is a really important day. Although we have been shipping the consumer version of the Laserlight for nearly two years, and now to 52 countries from our site, integrating the technology into the entire fleet of Santander Cycles immediately takes things to the next level and will make thousands of cyclists more visible and safer on our roads.”
To mark the announcement, Blaze and Santander produced a Star Wars-themed YouTube video featuring Olympic medal winner Jessica Ennis and Formula 1 racing driver Jenson Button. The duo, representing the Light Side and the Dark Side, encounter each other in the street before setting off on their Santander cycles, equipped with the Blaze Laserlight, to watch the new Star Wars movie. When they arrive at the cinema they buy their tickets from professional golfer Rory McIlroy.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “It’s fantastic that our Santander Cycles will be able to bring light to the dark side of the street with these nifty Blaze Laserlights.
“We’re always looking to develop new and innovative ways to help people cycle around the capital more safely and these green lights will help all our cycle hire users to stay seen at night. I’m delighted that through this great partnership, we’re able to help improve safety and support the enterprise of another brilliant London startup.”
The implementation, expected to take place early next year, comes after a successful Laserlight trial on 250 Santander cycles in September.
“We have received positive feedback throughout the trial and are confident that the new addition will encourage more cyclists, new or experienced, to use the bikes for commuting or leisure,” said James Mead, TfL’s general manager of Santander Cycles.