A mounted laser that projects bike lane lines onto the street at night joins the ranks of lit-up safety gear for cyclists. The question is: Does it actually work?
The XFire bike lane safety light was created by a Los Angeles based company with the goal of helping bike commuters stay safe. The patent-pending light costs about $40, contains five bright red LEDs, and projects two visible red laser lines on either side of the bike. It reminded me a little of the BLAZE device, which projects a bright green shared lane symbol on the road ahead of a cyclist.
British blogger Trevor Ward recently took the XFire tail-light for a spin and described his experiences in the Guardian online. Although a dog walker was impressed by the lasers, a neighbor who followed Ward in her car said she didn't really notice the lines and didn't feel the need to give him more room.
You might be wondering why I try the XFire out myself. The truth is I've already got some bright (and expensive) flashing bike lights, and they've made me realize that lights can only do so much.
Many Colorado drivers don't care that my bike is lit front and back, or that I'm in a bike lane with reflective painted lines, or even that the crosswalk just automatically lit up to signal that they should stop for me. There have been a bunch close calls, and I was carefully following the rules.
Better city planning could make more of a difference. Recently several main streets in my Denver neighborhood, which hasn't historically been the most bike-friendly area, were painted with shared lane symbols. Two bike shops have also opened up. Lasers are fun, but I'm looking forward to the day when drivers expect to see bikers everywhere.