Visibility is a dangerous problem for cyclists, but Citi Bike is aiming to make its fleet a little safer by projecting an image of a bike about 20 feet ahead of its rider. The hope is that drivers, pedestrians, and even other bikers get a heads up that a bike is coming their way–and riders gain visibility on dark streets.
In a pilot program, Citi Bike will affix 250 of its bright blue bikes with Laserlights, an accessory produced by the bike light company Blaze. The company hopes that the gadget will entice safety-wary riders to its program.
“By incorporating Blaze’s lights into the bike, we aim to keep New Yorkers on foot, behind the wheel and riding a Citi Bike safer and to improve the rider experience overall so that people of all backgrounds are inspired to try New York City’s popular bike share program,” Jay Walder–president and CEO of Motivate, operators of the Citi Bike program–said in a release. “Bike share is an extremely safe way to get around, and we are proud to work with Blaze to welcome every rider to Citi Bike while helping our city get ever closer to our Vision Zero goals.”
Vision Zero is New York’s ambitious goal to reduce traffic-related fatalities through better street design and awareness campaigns. While it’s seen some success in reducing traffic fatalities overall, it’s a “two steps forward, one step back” process. A recently released report of 2016 data showed that while fewer people–which includes drivers, bikers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians–died in traffic crashes, more pedestrians and cyclists died than in 2015.
Citi Bike’s mass adoption of this new strategy–projecting a bike image ahead of the actual bike–could turn this visual device into a sort of lingua franca for safety awareness. One person using the Laserlight won’t carry as much weight has hundreds but hopefully, over time and with repeated use, drivers and pedestrians will respond to the image just as they respond (or should respond) to stop signs or crosswalks.