Branson family back safer cycling start-up Blaze

Blaze has raised £55,000 from over 700 backers through a Kickstarter campaign

After a spate of cyclist deaths on London’s roads last year, a new bike light aimed at tackling the biggest cause of bike deaths and backed by the Branson family is set to launch in the capital.

Blaze lights use powerful LEDs to project an image of a bike ahead of a cyclist, in a bid to stop drivers turning into cyclists who are in their blind spot.

The hardware is the brainchild of 28-year-old Emily Brooke, who came up with the idea whilst studying product design at Brighton University.

“Three years ago I’d never been on a bike before,” recalls Brooke. “I decided to cycle the length of the UK for charity during my studies. I realised the countryside was great but the city was a nightmare.

“In my final year we had to design a product from start to finish and I gave myself the theme of urban cycling. I spent six months working with a driving psychologist, the bus company and a lot of other cyclists – one stat stood out, the fact that 79 per cent of cyclists hit are travelling straight ahead and the vehicle turns into them.”

After graduating Brooke raised £55,000 from over 700 backers through a Kickstarter campaign to put the product into production.

Now based in Shoreditch, Blaze is today opening up its online order book for the first time, selling the lights for £125. Sam and Holly Branson and venture capital firm Index Venture have also today announced they are together investing $500,000 (£300,000) in the company.

Brooke says: “In the summer I was at [technology conference] Founder Forum and met the Bransons – Holly, Sam and Richard.

"Holly & Sam are investing – they’re really engaged, they’re really excited. Sam’s off on some epic adventure this year, cycling hundreds of miles and climbing a mountain and he’s going to have Blaze lights for that."

Brooke says the money will be used to develop new products and build “a global urban cycling brand”.

“There are plenty of problems for urban cyclists and we’re tackling them all – everything from bike locks to helmets. “

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