Reflective LifePaint might save cyclists from colliding with cars

If there is something we love to do in the Netherlands, home of Materia – aside from cheese and clogs of course – it’s cycling. However, it is not so easy to make yourself visible in the dark, which causes a lot of accidents to happen. Last year, Volvo introduced LifePaint, an invisible paint that reflects the light of headlights. Now, the carmaker has made the paint available to the public on its UK website.

The paint is developed by Volvo in collaboration with Albedo 100. Earlier, LifePaint was only available at select Volvo dealerships and only six bike shops in London.

The spray consists of transparent glue, reflective microspheres and propellant gas (butane/propan gas-mixture). In order to optimise adhesion to different surfaces, the formula differs between the sprays.

In daylight, the paint is invisible and only lights up at night when direct light is aimed at it, like headlights of a car. LifePaint reflects the light in the same direction as the light that hits the object. So when you are hit by light from a car the passengers and driver in the car that will see the reflection, but people standing at the ‘wrong’ angle will not see it. Volvo recommends to spray the paint on low areas, since headlights using half-beam tend to be directed towards the ground. The legs are a good place to spray: the combination of being closer to the ground and moving, increases visibility.

The spray remains reflective for ten days and does not harm the colour or surface (though you are advised against using it on leather). It is waterbased and washes off, though the spray is not affected by rain. It works best on textile materials, such as clothes and shoes, but also helmets, pushchairs and children’s backpacks – even dog leads and collars. A 100 ml can will last for approximately 50 sprays.

Unfortunately for people who live outside of the UK, Volvo does not distribute outside of the country (for those who do live in de UK, a can retails for £13). We will have to make do with normal bike lights.