Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Product idea: Light up your own bike lane with “LightLane”

Posted by on January 16th, 2009 at 9:44 am

[Via Dustbowl]

Design duo Alex Tee and Evan Gant from Massachusetts based product design firm Altitude Inc., are making waves around the web for their new “LightLane” concept.

Here’s how they describe it:

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.

Gant and Tee say standard bike lights only light up a “fraction of the bike’s envelope”.

According to bike planner Denver Igarta at the Portland Bureau of Transportation, there are 3,949 miles of streets in Portland, but only 173.8 miles of them are painted with bike lanes. He estimates it costs PBOT around $2,500 per mile just to do the paint striping.

No word yet on the actual viability of LightLanes as a product you’ll see in bike shops soon (it’s just a design concept, like that Nike “Hindsight” idea we reported on back in October), but it’s a very intriguing idea. I’d buy one.

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  • Wuss912 January 16, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Seems like a cool idea now only if they can make it work and still be cheap and flexable enough….

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  • anita January 16, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Yeah, light lane!

    Gothamist presents it as a solution to our Brooklyn bike lane issues and we love the idea ourselves…

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  • Jim Labbe January 16, 2009 at 9:52 am

    This looks very cool. Is the bike lane width adjustable? I’d like a wide one, perhaps with a funky bike lane character so my virtual bike lane feels and looks like Portland.

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  • velocipede January 16, 2009 at 10:06 am

    This is an awesome idea!

    But … as Jim Labbe points out (#3), it isn’t wide enough to indicate to motorists what constitutes a safe pass. Make it wider, and I’ll definitely buy one!

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  • K'Tesh January 16, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I’m with #3 and #4.

    I’ll take three please.
    (in green)

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  • Anonymous January 16, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Yes. Needs to be wider.

    My Sci-Fi mind thinks it should come with an internal combustion disabling devise that activates when the lazer plane is broken. Ha!

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  • Matthew Denton January 16, 2009 at 10:32 am

    It is a great concept. The problem of bringing these to production, (okay: of me buying one,) involve dirt/water proofing, battery life, and theft prevention/mounting. And unfortunately, those actually tend to be bigger issues than the initial design itself…

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  • Bent Bloke January 16, 2009 at 10:50 am

    This is so cool! It would need to be bright enough so that car headlights wouldn’t overwhelm it. And it would be extra cool if the “bike-lane-guy” could be animated … make it look like he’s pedaling! What fun!

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  • Schrauf January 16, 2009 at 10:54 am

    I assume there will be an add-on that increases the laser energy, and immediately incinerates any vehicle that invades the cyclist’s bubble?

    Oh wait, the necessary battery would be so large it would need to be towed in a trailer…

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  • toddistic January 16, 2009 at 11:40 am

    “With a wider margin of safety, bikers will regain their confidence to ride at night, making the bike a more viable commuting alternative.”

    Because when Susan the Drunk is DUI’ng a little red light will make a huge difference!

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  • Travis Wittwer January 16, 2009 at 11:55 am

    It is good to know that people are out there being clever, thinking, and using action to create a better place. I know, tall expectations for a bike-lane light, but every change leads to something.

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  • Quentin January 16, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    That is so cool. I would definitely buy one. I agree that the projected lane is too narrow. Perhaps the designers would consider a flashing/expanding semi-circle around the cyclist or some other combination of flashing/moving light to encourage drivers to keep a safe distance.

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  • #1BA January 16, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    There is no chance it’ll work. The problem is not creating a space, its making it visible to the drivers. Lasers are no where near bright enough to be seen in the dark when the entire scene is swamped by car headlights. Reflectors are by far the brightest thing, because they are returning a huge amount of light coming directly from those headlights. Nice idea, but bike lanes work at night because they reflect back to the source.

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  • Jeff January 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I do think it’s funny and clever, but I guess I see it as more of a visual joke than a serious design concept. It doesn’t seem like it would be any more legal than putting flashing blue and red lights on top of your car, or painting your own “No Parking” indicators on the curb outside your house. And there’s an implied subtext than anywhere a cyclist is riding should be a bike lane, which clearly isn’t true even when riding legally (when you’re steering left to make a turn, and the projected bike lane diagonally bisects the intersection, for instance). Funny idea, but not really a valid or even particularly positive product idea, in my opinion.

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  • glenzedrine January 16, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I agree with #13. I highly doubt this would be visible in the cars’ headlights.

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  • Chris January 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I still like the idea of focusing on side visibility since the reflectors need a fairly direct angle from headlights and most front and rear blinkies have a narrow viewing angle and small presence. This would be great along with the illuminated bike lane which would be fun when riding the bike boulevards at night. http://flexyourrex.com/store/page45.html

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  • John Lascurettes January 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm


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  • Zaphod January 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I roll with something kind of like this but farrrrrrr cooler. Check out this link

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  • Refunk January 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Ahem. I call BS on this.

    Please remember that this is a design studio, folks. They’ve got some very cool stuff on their site, no doubt. This, however, looks purely like a conceptual presentation – not a working prototype, unless magic is somehow involved.

    Check the illustration (larger version of what Jonathan used in the article) on the designers’ blog http://dustbowl.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/lightlane_copyright.jpg and see those rays of lovely red laser light fanning out all around the cyclist and bike, apparently emanating from just under the saddle? Such would not be visible in clear atmosphere. There for illustrative purposes only, just like the depiction of the well-defined bike lane graphic on the uneven surface of the roadway, which projection extends right through the rider’s legs, not to mention the alignment of the bike frame to the groovy ruby bike lane light which ain’t aligned.

    Not to mention the whole legality thing.

    Nice performance art concept, though.

    Seriously, I’ve used a left-hand, extendable handlebar-mounted strobe for years, which puts the light out about eight inches off the side of the bike and it really delivers a noticeable stand-off reaction from cagers. Sadly, no anti-collision laser or EMP car-disabling features.

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  • Refunk January 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Oh, yeah! Zaphod (@18),

    DownLowGlow is cool beyond measure. Definitely, a better solution.

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  • Krampus January 16, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Bad idea. What happens when the cyclist goes to take a turn and suddenly cars find themselves invading a pseudo bike lane? If drivers suddenly see what appears to be themselves veering into a pseudo bike lane when in reality it’s the cyclists light fanning into the car lane as the cyclist makes a right (or even left) turn, and the driver reacts out of panic, that could be very bad. This idea is good but it needs more work before I’d use it.

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  • DT January 16, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I just got a couple of these:


    Cool part is you can change the patterns and colors on the fly. Keep Portland weird!

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  • Lexi January 17, 2009 at 12:32 am

    How does it work? Is it a bike light that projects a laser bike lane behind you? Where does it mount? I guess I am slightly confused.

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  • beth h January 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I’m with the fella who wonders if it’s legal.
    If we can produce “lanes” where none exist and we still get smacked by a car, do we have a viable case in court? The technology is fascinating but the legal issues are actually bigger than suggested so far in tis discussion.

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  • schrammalama January 19, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    @refunk and not to mention the jitteriness of the bicycle itself. Damn near impossible to project a straight line with a laser from moving vehicle. I’ve thought about this idea before and decided that a spyrograph style light that just followed behind you would be good enough to get teh drivers attention.

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