Some Citi Bikes to feature bicycle-shaped lights as part of safety pilot program

Hundreds of Citi Bikes are being equipped with a front light that projects a bicycle-shaped beacon onto the street ahead, Citi Bike announced Tuesday.

Some 250 bikes will feature the new light, known as the Laserlight from Blaze, in the coming weeks for a pilot program to improve safety by increasing the visibility of nighttime cyclists.

The beacon, a green pictogram projected several feet ahead the bike, serves as a tip-off to nearby pedestrians and motorists.

“By incorporating Blaze’s lights into the bike, we aim to keep New Yorkers on foot, behind the wheel and riding a Citi Bike safer and to improve the rider experience overall so that people of all backgrounds are inspired to try New York City’s popular bike share program,” said Jay Walder, president and CEO of Motivate, operators of the Citi Bike program, in a statement.

Blaze’s lights are already in use in London, where the company is headquartered. Transport for London announced last year that it would begin outfitting the city’s entire bike share fleet with the beacon. After “extensive research” on the beacon’s use overseas, Citi Bike decided to try it out in New York.

“Blaze are delighted that Citi Bike will pilot the Laserlight this winter,” said Emily Brooke, founder and CEO of Blaze, in a statement. “We have been working with Motivate for over a year to develop a brand new product that brings our innovative projection technology to the streets of New York.”

With Citi Bike approaching a 10,000-bike fleet, the lights will be used on a small fraction of bikes. The pilot number of 250 was decided on due to funding constraints. But Citi Bike said it hopes the initiative will be warmly received, especially by women, who the bike share is trying to encourage to ride. (Studies have shown women are more likely to ride in safer environments.)

The pilot is also a proactive measure. Thus far Citi Bike has boasted a safety record that includes a few serious injuries and no deaths over the course of three years and almost 37 million trips, according to Citi Bike.

“This is an excellent tool for promoting street safety by making drivers more aware of cyclists, and it’s also a fun and eye-catching way to promote cycling and bike share,” said Brian Zumhagen, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives.

Six city councilmembers were quoted in a news release supporting the move. Though none were more to-the-point than the Upper West Side’s Helen Rosenthal, whose statement in totality read: “This looks really cool.”

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