By Elizabeth Anderson Friday, 14 February 2014

LAUNCHPAD: Bransons back bike business Blaze

London-based Blaze launches highly-anticipated laser-projection bike light with funding from the Branson family and Index Ventures.

As any urban cyclist knows, navigating city traffic can be tricky.  

Blaze hopes to make cyclists’ journeys easier by launching a bright green LED bike light called Laserlight, which projects a laser image of a bicycle onto the road up to five meters ahead of cyclists to alert drivers and potentially save lives.

‘A huge number of cyclists involved in accidents - 79% to be precise - are simply travelling straight ahead when a vehicle manoeuvres into them. Having a laser projection that serves as early warning could transform bicycle safety,’ Emily Brooke, founder of Blaze, said.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign in late 2012, which raised £55,000, Blaze has employed a team of five in London and secured UK distribution with Evans Cycles, the UK’s largest cycling retailer. The Laserlight goes on sale today, with shipping from 26 February.

The Branson family and Index Ventures have also backed the company, investing $500,000 as Blaze looks to expand its product range.

‘We want to make Blaze a global urban cycling brand,’ Brooke told MT. ‘We’ve already got six other products we’re looking at, such as bike locks and helmets. Over half a million journeys are made in London every day but personal safety is still by far the biggest barrier to participation. People say we should have separate cycle paths, but we haven’t got the space in the UK.  Anything to make the cyclist more visible is important.’

Brooke, from Bath, worked with Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton and Hove Bus Company, road safety experts and driving psychologists to develop the device.

Fourteen cyclists were killed in London last year, six of those during a two-week period in November.

‘We invest in entrepreneurial activities to help make a difference in the world and Blaze are a brand using exciting technology to make the experience of urban cycling better,’ Holly and Sam Branson said.

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