If you’ve ever wished you could have your own dedicated bike lane for the whole of your journey, check out the MyLane bike lighting system which comprises of a standard LED rear light with fixed, flash, and oscillating options plus two lasers that project a “cycle lane” onto the road.
Gimmick or serious safety device?
The idea is to make cyclists more visible at night and encourage motorists to give them a wide berth. More than 20 US states already have laws requiring drivers to give cyclists a margin of at least three feet when overtaking and this device suggests that it helps.
The MyLane tail light works by projecting two red laser beams onto the ground either side of the bike. You can tailor the width of your “lane” from roughly two to four feet depending on how you angle the unit and set the height. Like the fixed rear light, you can choose to have the laser beams flashing if you want.
The lasers have a strength of about the same as most laser pointers.
But do the lights really improve rider safety, or are they just bit of fun? Anticipating the winter nights ahead, I tried out a set at a cost of around CHF 30 which is cheap for a good rear light let alone the lasers.
The unit can be easily attached to your seat post (bracket supplied) and adjusting the height and angle allows a pair of well defined straight lines either side of the bike.
From the rider’s perspective the lasers give the impression of bright red “force field” around your bike but does that lead to a false sense of security. The following suggest this may be the case.
I had a colleague follow me down the road with the lasers switched on and he reported that he “didn’t really notice” the lines unless specifically looking for them. Next we tried the same experiment with the lights flashing. No change from the drivers perspective.
This view was echoed by Chris Juden, the senior technical officer at the national cycling charity CTC who reviewed a similar device, the X-Fire BikeLane, and said:
“The road will reflect only a small fraction of the light that falls on it. And it’ll reflect in all directions – but more back to source than other directions – so only a tiny fraction goes towards the driver. Then there’s the question of whether the driver is looking at the road surface anyway. Research on driver eye fixation confirms the obvious, that they give most of their attention to potential threats and signals, such as oncoming traffic, crossing traffic, traffic lights and road signs, most of which is offside or high above the road, and only some of which is to the left or down on its surface. So their eyes are mostly up and rightwards. The cyclist’s challenge is to grab the driver’s attention in the few glances he gives to the nearside. Can the driver even see the nearside road surface? Not very near he can’t. My bonnet blocks my view of that part of the road for some distance ahead. I think this is a mostly harmless gimmick. I’d rather have the extra light directed somewhere more obviously useful instead.”
Never mind, the rear light is, in itself, a good quality produce and can stay on the MTB for now. I probably won’t bother with the lasers as the one thing Chris Juden didn’t mention is they do make you look like a bit of a knob.