Montreal

Green laser to light up street in front of Bixis, to boost visibility in blind spots

Montrealers will soon see green silhouettes of bikes projected onto the streets in front of an approaching Bixi rider, thanks to a pilot project to improve the safety of the shared bicycles.

55 Bixis part of new pilot project to begin rolling out today

The new lights in front of Bixis are designed to make riders more visible to other road users. (Bixi Montreal/Twitter)

Montrealers will soon be able to spot a Bixi coming after dusk more easily, thanks to a pilot project that uses lasers to boost the night-time visibility of Bixis in blind spots.

Starting today, 55 Bixis will project the green silhouette of a bike onto the street several metres in front of the rider.

Bixi said in a news release that more than 20 per cent of its ridership uses its bikes at night, and most recorded accidents are linked to Bixis that were moving through a motorized vehicle's blind spot.

Bixi CEO Christian Vermette said since the beginning of the season, there have been 22 accidents involving Bixi users, two of which were major, and most were due to being in a blind spot.

Montreal Coun. Marianne Giguère, who is responsible for cycling issues, said before adding the lasers to more bikes, the city wants to judge if they make a difference.

"We're going to see if people appreciate it," she said.

The system, called the Beryl Laserlight, was designed by a British company and is already in use in London and New York City — two bike-sharing sister cities using Bixi-branded technology.

"The percentage of maximum visibility at night for bus drivers has improved 96.2 per cent with the Beryl Laserlight," according to a study by the Transport Research Laboratory, done for the transit agency Transport for London.

In London, the lights have been added to 12,000 bikes.

Installing the lights on Montreal's Bixis costs $150 per bicycle, and Bixi is using existing funds in its budget to pay for the trial.

"There's always a little surplus," said Vermette.

Ridership keeps climbing, he said, noting May 2018 saw a 36 per cent increase in ridership over May 2017.

That upward trend continued in June and into July, with one million rides expected before the month is out, Vermette added.  

According to Bixi, if the pilot project is successful, all the new bikes in the fleet could be equipped with the laser lights by 2020.

With files from Brian Lapuz

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