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Will this device help keep cyclists safe on the road?

A 23-year-old industrial design student created the Laser Lane

Drivers won't have an excuse for not seeing bikers with this. PHOTO FROM BRUNEL UNIVERSITY LONDON

“All the time, you have to leave a space,” said Fernando Alonso after being pushed off the track by Nico Rosberg at the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix. However, this doesn’t apply just to Formula 1 but to cycling as well.

Under the “Minimum Overtaking of Cyclists Distance Act” from 2019 (yes, that’s a thing), drivers of motor vehicles must leave a minimum distance of 1.5m when passing cyclists going in the same direction.

But go bike on public roads and you’ll personally experience that a good deal of motorists don’t actually leave space for different reasons.

As a new driver, 23-year-old Ibrahim Cam noticed this. That’s why he created the Laser Lane in his final year as an Industrial Design and Technology student at Brunel University London.

The Laser Lane is attached to the ends of the handlebars. PHOTO FROM BRUNEL UNIVERSITY LONDON
Projected bike lanes are no substitute for protected ones. PHOTO FROM BRUNEL UNIVERSITY LONDON

The Laser Lane is essentially a bar-end accessory designed to increase the visibility of cyclists. It projects a bike lane on the road to give drivers a visual guide on the safe overtaking distance.

The front and rear lights are color-coded so motorists can tell what direction the biker is going. Also, there are touch-activated indicators for turn signals.

“Many drivers don’t respect the 1.5m rule, and the wind of a vehicle alone can be detrimental,” said Ibrahim. “Drivers have airbags, seat belts, and metal between them and the roads, but cyclists have nothing. They just have their bike, their helmet, and the tarmac beneath them.”

White is at the front, while red is at the rear. PHOTOS FROM BRUNEL UNIVERSITY LONDON

The industrial design student believes his invention will help beginner cyclists feel more confident and comfortable on the road. However, he isn’t actually the first one to come up with such a thing. In fact, there are similar products already locally available.

More importantly, accessories such as the Laser Lane—as well as lights and high-visibility vests—do not provide any protection in and of themselves. They only show others where cyclists are on the road.

So, it’s still up to motorists whether to respect them or not. You can bike in the outermost lane in broad daylight, and still get close-passed by a speeding car—even if there is enough space.

This young driver's concern for bikers is commendable. PHOTO FROM BRUNEL UNIVERSITY LONDON

Now, before anyone points out how tight the streets are, that isn’t an excuse to drive dangerously around cyclists and pedestrians. And there’s no harm in slowing down and waiting for them if you don’t have the luxury of space.

While there may be jempoys on the road who intentionally put themselves in harm’s way, their existence is not an excuse to abuse cyclists minding their own business. If we all acted like that, then no one would respect each other since all kinds of vehicles have their own share of irresponsible users.

So, going back to the title of this article: Will devices like this keep cyclists safe on the road? Not necessarily.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.