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Wishing for a bike lane? Just light it up

Posted by on June 24th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

The LightLane product projects a bike lane behind you.

Remember back in January, when the web was abuzz about an interesting product idea called that would let you project a bike lane behind your bike with lasers?

It was called LightLane, and back then it was just a neat entry into a design competition. Now, because response to the concept was so “overwhelming”, the folks behind the project have moved forward with production.

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On their website, LightLane writes that, “…the viral spread of the concept… was the catalyst for its further development into a product.” The product is slated to come with a 3-hour rechargable Li-Ion battery and be compatible with universal mobile phone chargers.

In Portland, there are about 3,949 miles of streets, but only 173.8 miles of them are painted with bike lanes. I can think of a few places where I wouldn’t mind turning one of these on (especially when I’m with my kids).

See a live demo in the video below and check out LightLane’s website for more info.

[Thanks to readers Matt P., B. Moore, and others for the tip!]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

49 Comments
  • JAT in Seattle June 24, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Viral? Oooh it must be good then!

    To my eye it seems like this really accentuates how erratically that cyclist was moving down the roadway, and makes that person’s claim to their portion of the lane more tenuous than it was before.

    Sorry to come off as a hater, but I’m just not sold on Laserium as a safety enhancement.

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  • John Lascurettes June 24, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Just sent them my Christmas wish: a dynohub powered version.

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  • Zyzzyx June 24, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I’m still seriously unimpressed with it.

    Only possibly effective at night; unlike other lights (Dinotte?) that are equally effective day or night.

    Not so sure that the light will reflect off the ground enough at the very low angle of sight for drivers, or that it will be visible at all from a distance. And if you’re up close a good light on the bike itself would probably do better.

    Or if you’re trying to light up the area to be visible yourself, how about a DownLowGlow setup instead?

    Neat gadget though, would be fun for night group rides/parades/parties/whatevers.

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  • Paul Cone June 24, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Eh. Seems like a yellow Burley would be more visible, and also keep you warm/dry.

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  • commuter June 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I think it will provide more of a distraction to drivers at night to the point that they might veer into you. The ‘lane’ it creates seems really wide too unless that is user adjustable.

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  • pdxKate June 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    At first glance, this seems like a great idea. What concerns me, however, is whether or not drivers would even notice the laser (let alone give the biker more room).

    I will be interested to see how this works out and if it is successful.

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  • Vance Longwell June 24, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    “In Portland, there are about 3,949 miles of streets, but only 173.8 miles of them are painted with bike lanes.”

    What about Oregon Revised Statute 811.065? This statute effectively provides you a mobile bike-lane on the, “… 3,949 miles of streets…”, you mention, but your precious bike-lanes remove this protection on the, “…173.8…” miles that they cover.

    Why is it then, that you advocate doing away with ORS 811.065, by supporting bike-lanes, but turn right around and endorse this arguably less effective, similar, practice? Does it have anything to do with creating ad revenue for your site, by endorsing products of this type?

    Just curious.

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  • Hart June 24, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Yeah, what kind of crazy bike commuter wants a wide lane?

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  • Chris June 24, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Ok guys… I understand this video is cheesy but take a look and tell me which you think will honestly do a better job of keeping the car from hitting you.
    Bike Wheel Lights

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  • Matt Picio June 24, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    commuter (#4) – “really wide”? I was thinking the opposite, it only goes out about 3′, and it might be nice to show more. In Oregon, if the speed limit on the road is 35mph or higher, you’re entitled to 5-6′ of road space. (unless you’re a tallbike, and then you’re usually entitled to the entire lane)

    Note: the law says a distance equal to if the bike suddenly fell over to one side – for many tallbikes, that’s quite a distance.

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  • commuter June 24, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Matt,
    Based on the video, the lane it creates does seem wider than the bike lanes I ride in.

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  • Hart June 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    No, Chris. It’s like commuter says, the more lights, the greater the distraction, and the more likely it will be they steer their two tons of steel directly into you like a giant metal moth into a candle chandelier. How car drivers avoid accidents in daylight is beyond me.

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  • Chris June 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I hear your concerns Hart and commuter. I personally do use lights in my front wheel when I ride and although distracting to some I have personally received cheers from drivers for the visibility. The lights don’t flash the light up the wheel which is the best visual que for a bicycle. There was a Swedish study that claims the majority of bike/car accidents occur at a 30 degree angle because of the lack of side visibility and the fact that reflectors don’t always light up unless more direct. Just a thought. I try to convert the drivers rather than piss them off but you can’t win ’em all!!! Thank you for your comments though, I enjoy the dialog.

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  • michael downes June 24, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    The video shows what is a proof of concept and will probably evolve (& improve) as they move towards production. I think it’s a rather good idea and I am surprised people are so ready to dismiss it. This is one of the first genuinely new ideas I have seen in bicycle lighting in some time.

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  • Hart June 24, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I was being sarcastic. The idea that a car driver will suddenly, uncontrollably veer into any lighted object in the street is utterly idiotic.

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  • Jabin June 24, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    I picked up an in wheel LED light setup http://www.monkeylectric.com/m132s.htm

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  • Chris June 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    🙂 Depends Hart. If the driver had a temporal lobotomy at age 25 he may possibly drive over a cyclist. We’re not tearing down the idea, we want ultimately for cyclists to be clearly visible and for their space on the road to be clear and respected. I think that wider lines, if just as bright, would be better. Would a brighter color like yellow or white show up any better?

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  • commuter June 24, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Michael, a good recent innovation has been the Super Flash tail lights. I have 2 on my bike and one on my helmet for better visibility. They work amazingly well and drivers are used to seeing them..even drunk ones.
    I’m not really dismissing these new concepts but am wary that unfamiliar lighting could attract unwanted attention. To be fair though, I have not seen wheel lights in action.
    I do think that my super flash tail lights are safer then these bike lane lights though.

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  • Hart June 24, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Unwanted attention? How’s that scenario play out?

    “Well look what we got here, fancy pants bike boy shootin’ little green lazers on the street! Ain’t never seen that before, guess I’m gonna have to teach fancy pants a lesson he ain’t gonna forgit!”

    Yeah, like that maybe?

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  • commuter June 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Haha..yea like that! As opposed to “wow..super bright red lights flashing and blinding my eyes…gotta stay away!”.

    If you’ve ever ridden over the Hawthorne during rush hour in the winter you’ll know what I mean. I long string of flashing red lights..it’s quite a sight!

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  • […] Lane Website. Via Bike Portland. var addthis_pub = ‘bikemonkey’; var addthis_logo = […]

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  • J June 24, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I would buy this in a heartbeat and get all my riding friends to do the same. Amazing. I am looking forward to the full production!

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  • joel June 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    ugh. im now imagining my after-dark ride home during winter being headache-inducing, once the legions of bike commuters riding home on williams all have these blasted things. bleah.

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  • Anonymous June 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Similar to bike lanes, this will encourage drivers to pass closer to cyclists than they do without a visible barrier. Lines create a perception of safety and studies have shown passing distance is typically closer with bike lanes than without. Probably because drivers feel they can better predict the cyclist’s future path of travel with lines on the road – but this perception causes problems when there is a need to suddenly veer around an opening door or other obstacle.

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  • Mark Allyn June 24, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Heck, with my art bike full of LED’s and lighted spoons, this would be an interesting addition.

    I have already made some changes to my art bike to include super bright LED’s shining down on the road surface to create a rainbow pattern across the width of the road.

    Luv

    Cleara

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  • efglez June 24, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    what happens when two or three people are riding together? might get a little confusing…no?

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  • efglez June 24, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    BUT looks like great fun (got to have more lights for sure!)

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  • brad June 24, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Hey, think about it. You only would use this at night. Car lights would totally wash it out.

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  • Jeff June 25, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Chris, red is the color that retains its distinctiveness furthest at night. The eye tends to not pick up other colors as well, esp. at a distance.

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  • BobG June 25, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Did that bike (and car!) go through a red light @ 2:10?!

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  • Bent Bloke June 25, 2009 at 7:40 am

    I wonder how this would perform on wet pavement, or during a heavy rain. It sometimes gets that way here. ;o)

    I like the concept, though. And green is a good choice: the eye is more sensitive to green than to other colors.

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  • Paul Tay June 25, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Why stop at light painting the road with bike lanes? How about light paint the road with the message: BACK OFF, FCUKER!

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  • bikieboy June 25, 2009 at 8:47 am

    but i want the little neon green bike person, like in the photo shows! with maybe a variable messaging option, like Paul suggested…

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  • Editz June 25, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Is there a switch to go between ‘Pink Floyd’ and ‘Led Zeppelin’ lazer-show modes?

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  • Matt Picio June 25, 2009 at 9:47 am

    BobG (#30) – Nope, that was a left turn on red from a one-way street onto a one-way street. Perfectly legal in many states, including Oregon.

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  • John Henry Dale June 25, 2009 at 10:12 am

    When can I haz one ???

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  • Joe June 25, 2009 at 10:44 am

    lol #34

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  • Paul June 25, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I am sorry but this looks 100% pointless to me. I do not think it would help at all. People need to realize that the only way to really protect yourself is to ride in defense mode all the time. Never count on anything you have to make the driver aware of you. That is the way I ride my bike and I have never once had a situation with a car in over 12 years.

    I also avoid bike lanes. If there is a bike lane then that means the street is probably a high traffic one and that then also means I should not be riding on it anyway.

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  • John Henry Dale June 25, 2009 at 11:51 am

    So I guess by that logic bike lanes are 100% pointless too since you shouldn’t be riding on them anyway ? Brilliant rationality there. I haven’t had a situation with a car in over 12 years either. I also ride in defense mode with blinker lights and reflective gear in high-traffic, well-marked bike lanes all the time. Go figure. Anything that makes you more visible on a bike is a good thing. Get real, stop hating on a very innovative product, invent something yourself, and stop posting 100% pointless criticism.

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  • Sara June 25, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I am really looking forward to these.

    Vance Longwell (#7): You’ll see in ORS 811.065 that it doesn’t apply to streets 35 mph or under, which tends to be the kind of street I bike on when I’m not biking in bike lanes. So the light would be just the visual cue I’m looking for to let cars know how much space I want.

    Anonymous (#24): My personal anecdotal experience has been that cars give me more room in a bike lane than they do without one, but I’m really interested to see the research. Can you post links to the research you’re talking about, or give names of the researchers who performed said research?

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  • Vance Longwell June 27, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Sara #40 – What the heck are you talking about? Never mind that this is patently false, I’m just curious why a common-sense button didn’t get pressed while you were pulling that out of your, well you know? Oregon Revised Statute 811.065 makes absolutely no, mention whatsoever of this. Where do you people come up with this stuff?

    This thing is statutory, hello, it inherently leaves nothing to be interpreted, it is an interpretation for Pete’s sake. Jeez, I’m just shaking my head over that one. You don’t even make a point. You just make a completely false statement for no apparent reason. I know I’m kind of a jerk, but if that’s all you can think of to communicate this, I’d try again.

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  • Sara June 27, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Vance, you could be less incindiary and more imformative. I *did* misinterpret the double negatives. Below is the actual text of the ORS, bolded for emphasis. I thought I remember there being a discussion about the safe passing law not applying to streets in town (due to mph of those streets) and I misremembered it. The actual exception is the opposite of what I had thought: this ORS *only* applies to streets 35 mph and under. As for common sense, it is not always the case that laws written regarding bicycling make sense. And as for ORS 811.065 making absolutely no mention of it, you’ll see below that it *does* make mention of exceptions based on mph.

    811.065 Unsafe passing of person operating bicycle; penalty. (1) A driver of a motor vehicle commits the offense of unsafe passing of a person operating a bicycle if the driver violates any of the following requirements:
    (a) The driver of a motor vehicle may only pass a person operating a bicycle by driving to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance and returning to the lane of travel once the motor vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. For the purposes of this paragraph, a “safe distance” means a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic. This paragraph does not apply to a driver operating a motor vehicle:
    (A) In a lane that is separate from and adjacent to a designated bicycle lane;
    (B) At a speed not greater than 35 miles per hour; or
    (C) When the driver is passing a person operating a bicycle on the person’s right side and the person operating the bicycle is turning left.
    (b) The driver of a motor vehicle may drive to the left of the center of a roadway to pass a person operating a bicycle proceeding in the same direction only if the roadway to the left of the center is unobstructed for a sufficient distance to permit the driver to pass the person operating the bicycle safely and avoid interference with oncoming traffic. This paragraph does not authorize driving on the left side of the center of a roadway when prohibited under ORS 811.295, 811.300 or 811.310 to 811.325.
    (c) The driver of a motor vehicle that passes a person operating a bicycle shall return to an authorized lane of traffic as soon as practicable.
    (2) Passing a person operating a bicycle in a no passing zone in violation of ORS 811.420 constitutes prima facie evidence of commission of the offense described in this section, unsafe passing of a person operating a bicycle, if the passing results in injury to or the death of the person operating the bicycle.
    (3) The offense described in this section, unsafe passing of a person operating a bicycle, is a Class B traffic violation. [2007 c.794 §2]

    Note: 811.065 was added to and made a part of the Oregon Vehicle Code by legislative action but was not added to ORS chapter 811 or any series therein. See Preface to Oregon Revised Statutes for further explanation.

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  • Vance Longwell June 27, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Right, and you could get your facts straight before contradicting some one. It’s insulting to my intelligence to even insinuate, with a link right there in my post, that I’d make such a fundamental mistake.

    Also, misconceptions, and ignorance of this sort kill people everyday. Not only that, if you know about laws of this sort it sheds a different light on the necessity of bike-lanes that can, and likely will be, used to strip cyclists of their privilege to access Oregon highways.

    Judge less. Read more.

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  • Sara June 27, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I did read the link the first time, and appreciated it. It makes more sense to me that a slower vehicle would not be required to give as much room as a faster vehicle. At least, that is my personal preference. If a car is passing me at 25 mph I am comfortable with the car giving me less room than a car passing me at 35 mph. But like I said, laws don’t always follow common sense.

    While I wholeheartedly agree with you that all road users need to read and understand the ORSes that apply to them, and even that we should require licensing for all road users, this particular mis-reading of the ORS doesn’t kill anyone. Thank you for pointing out the mistake, so that everyone may be more informed of the rules of the road. But you come across as a very angry person and I think that’s counter to your goals. I encourage everyone to judge less and read more (yourself included).

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  • Sara June 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Wait, no, I was right the first time. The Unsafe Passing statute does not apply to streets under 35 mph. That is also what makes sense to me.

    The point I was making, Vance, which seems to have alluded you, was that on streets without bike lanes, I want cars to know how much room to give me. I often ride on bike routes without lanes, and sometimes cars buzz me. I want at least 2 feet distance. A light would give cars a visual cue (at night) to give me more room.

    I think part of our miscommunication here is that you’re discussing the bike lane exception (part A) and I’m not referring to that part, but to the instances without bike lanes where this light could be useful. The lights would not count as a legal bike lane, just a visual cue. So on roads without bike lanes, the visual cue would be helpful.

    My comment had nothing to do with bike lanes or Jonathan’s (or my) endorsement of bike lanes.

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  • junixrose June 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Vance-

    It is an insult to everyones intelligence for you to cite patently false information and even provide a link that proves your own assertions wrong. From your own link, ORS 811.065:

    This paragraph does not apply to a driver operating a motor vehicle:
    (B) At a speed not greater than 35 miles per hour

    Therefore the safe passing law does not apply to streets under 35, which is most of Portland’s “3,949 miles” of roadway.

    Furthermore you vehemently attack anyone who disagrees with your rabid assertions of incorrect information. Did you even read the link you posted?

    Also, can you actually find a single reference to support your claim that Jonathan is an advocate for “doing away with ORS 811.065” because bike lines and ORS 811.065 are not incompatible.

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  • Sara June 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Crap, my spelling is terrible today.
    allude –> elude
    incindiary –> incendiary

    I must not like the letter ‘e’ today.

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  • Peter June 27, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    hahahahaha

    ahhhh you guys always crack me up. The infighting is precious. Bikeportland comments section FTW! Quick, try and post her address and phone number!

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  • […] Light Lane Website. Via Bike Portland. […]

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