Mike on a Bike: No Bike Lane? Just Use Lasers

New column kicks off by examining new virtual, laser-powered bike lights hitting the market.

Hello and welcome to a new regular column here called Mike on a Bike. 

My name is Michael Theis and I ride bikes a lot, hence the title. 

I'll be using this column to let you know about news relevant to local cyclists in northern Prince George's County and the Washington, DC, area. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be visiting and reporting on a number of area cycling events, including the Hyattsville CX, the Crystal City Diamond Derby, the rolling hoopla that is DC Bike Party, and a peek at BicycleSpace social rides. 

So, without further adieu, here's my first Mike on a Bike column:

Your Own Personal Bike Lane 

Many local governments are trying to figure out how to better incorporate bicycle traffic into the urban and suburban streetscape. 

A first step for many of those governments is the installation of bicycle lanes. The lanes give a visual barrier and try to create something of a protected space for cyclists as they travel down the road. 

And while cheaper than dedicated bicycle highways, bike lanes do cost a bit of money to apply. 

So, if your local government has yet to scrape up the change to lay down bike lanes, why not just bring the bike lane with you?

That's the goal of a number of manufacturers of innovative bicycle tail lights which use lasers to project a virtual bike lane on the ground around the cyclist. 

Now, with lasers being involved and all, you might think these things are pricey. But you'd be wrong. 

According to Gizmodo, your own laser powered bike lane can be had for a mere $20.

Have you had any experience with this new technology? Let me know in comments.

Michael Theis September 26, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Whatever you want to call your present giving, it is pretty nifty. I wonder if it will actually make drivers behave any differently when passing a cyclist on the road.
AviationMetalSmith September 26, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I agree with what Mike Theis is suggesting. It really would be cheaper to equip bikes with lights, rear-view mirrors, helmets and reflective vests, than to paint bike lane stripes on every road. I think cyclists should stop whining and equip their bikes with gadgets like the laser bike lane, out of their own pocket. I have built my own laser gadget. I took a laser diode out of a laser pointer, which only cost three dollars- I got a battery holder at Radio Shack, three AAA batterys, and a small SPDT micro switch. I put these together in a candy tin (says "Altoids" on the lid). Now I can project a laser dot, without having to hold my finger on the button, and with regular batteries. Downside: the laser diode gets hot after five minutes, and starts to dim. I am thinking of a way to project the laser as a line instead of just a dot. But a dot's good too. I built mine for only $7.00. LED lights are wonderful, they run a long time before you have to change the batteries. Reflective vests are REQUIRED for road=workers, by Insurance laws, they will not get insurance coverage if they do not wear a reflective vest, so they won't be allowed to work if they show up without their vest, and miss a days pay even. Anyway, most drivers pass my bike with seven to ten feet of clearance, only one-in-a-thousand comes closer than four feet. It's only a small fractional percentage of motorists who cause problems, and it's unfair that all drivers should be made to sufer.
Adam September 26, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Or you could buy it direct from Zhejiang for under ten bucks shipped: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Bicycle-Cycling-Laser-Tail-Light-2-Laser-5-LED-Bike-safety-light-Free-Shipping/575961591.html
Jim Groves September 27, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Very, very cool. Too bad it's not a force field, that would be better and allow me to bike to the city again.
Michael Theis September 27, 2012 at 01:06 AM
With a bit of creative soldering, I'm sure you could swap out the built in lasers for some CD burner lasers. At that point you'd have a weaponized tail light.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »