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No Bike Lane? No Problem. Bring LightLane

Bike lanes can improve the safety and the flow of traffic on streets where bicyclists and cars mingle.  However, usually due to cost, the availability of these lanes is hit or miss.  And even when they are available, poor implementation or lack of maintenance can sometimes make them unusable or down right dangerous.

The town just south of where I live, for example, has a “bike lane” that is no more than the outer white line of the parking lane.  No cyclist in their right mind would cruise down the street with their tire on that white line unless they are looking to eat an opened car door.  But, because it is there, motorists in the driving lanes expect bikes to stick to it, which creates an awkward and dangerous tussle for the space just to the left of it.

Throw nighttime into this equation, and maybe a poorly lit road, and it can get very sketchy.

That is the problem LightLane is hoping to help solve.  Originally created for a design competition, LightLane uses LED and Laser technologies to beam – yes, I just said “beam” – your own bike lane onto the street around you.

The problem isn’t just about visibility, as safety lights are effective at capturing the attention of a driver. However, these lights are typically constrained to the bike frame, which highlights only a fraction of the bike’s envelope. . . our system projects a crisply defined virtual bike lane onto pavement, using a laser, providing the driver with a familiar boundary to avoid. With a wider margin of safety, bikers will regain their confidence to ride at night, making the bike a more viable commuting alternative.

This is one of those things you have to see in action:

The geek inside me is just giddy when I watch that video. Your own portable, virtual bike lane!

It really does seem like this would increase the safety of bike commuters at night, but I’m also curious how motorists would react to it. We all know, or have seen, aggressive bikers who drift out into the driving lane and then act as if it is their sovereign territory – hopefully a solution like LightLane doesn’t embolden those types of cyclists, further straining the car/bike relationship on our streets.

LightLane is currently in development, for more information visit their website: http://www.lightlanebike.com

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