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Old 10-23-05, 08:54 PM   #1
OnYoLeft
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Multiple Blinkers

I'm looking for advise as to what clorlored blinkers are best seen in weather with reduced visibility. For years, I've used one white and one red blinker on my single road bike and worked well, with the ocassional close call. When I set up my tandem for night riding, I have one white and one yellow blinker on the front and a red, blue and green blinker on the rear. I felt that this gave the approaching driver the impression that he was approaching an emergency vehicle. This lights can easily been seen from two miles away and when riding the tandem 98% of the vehicles DO SLOW DOWN!!!

I'm looking for advise as to setting up my new touring bike, with front and rear panniers. I'm placing 3 on the front and three on the rear. They'll be on the handlebar bag, trunk bag and on each pannier.

Would it be better to place three white and three red or one white and one red with yellows on the panniers for foul weather?
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Old 10-23-05, 09:05 PM   #2
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Colors don't really matter as compared to brightnes. Keep in mind some colors will get you in trouble in some places, like blue.

I'd stick to colors that resemble a vehicle. Nothing outside of yellow, orange, clear and red.
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Old 10-26-05, 12:59 AM   #3
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I haven't experimented with different colors. Two red blinkies in the rear have worked wonders. I have found that an arrangement with more than one light, and one of those lights higher than in most motor vehicles, produces very responsible behavior from drivers. I usually have a blinkie on the saddlebag (two there, actually) and one on the back of my head.

The key, in my experience, is that the lights are visible, *and* that drivers don't immediately understand what they are looking at. You don't want them to figure out that you're on a bicycle until the last second. It's much better if they think that you might be a construction barrier, or a big farming machine.
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Old 10-26-05, 01:05 AM   #4
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i have two red blinkers - one on my bike and one on the back of my head. i usually set them up to blink at different frequencies / patterns. drivers seem to notice me even in heavy rain.
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Old 10-26-05, 08:04 PM   #5
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Novice racers are usually told that if there is an obstacle they wish to avoid hitting, they must avoid looking at it. You drive where you look. It's true in cars, on bikes, on skis, on motorcycles...

The trouble with flashing lights is that every time they flash in the corner of your eye, your reflexes force you to look at it. The light literally jerks your eye toward it. It's much easier to notice and look away from a solid light. For that reason, drivers, especially drunk ones, frequently fixate on flashing lights and drive right into them. On a bicycle, a solid light will still exhibit enough movement to attract attention from a distance, without creating its own hazard.

I use only solid lights, and insist on the same from those who ride with me.
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Old 10-26-05, 08:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lws
Novice racers are usually told that if there is an obstacle they wish to avoid hitting, they must avoid looking at it. You drive where you look. It's true in cars, on bikes, on skis, on motorcycles...

The trouble with flashing lights is that every time they flash in the corner of your eye, your reflexes force you to look at it. The light literally jerks your eye toward it. It's much easier to notice and look away from a solid light. For that reason, drivers, especially drunk ones, frequently fixate on flashing lights and drive right into them. On a bicycle, a solid light will still exhibit enough movement to attract attention from a distance, without creating its own hazard.

I use only solid lights, and insist on the same from those who ride with me.
Despite my tendency to be a smart-ass for the most part in BF, I do learn something new every day...this post being an example. I'd like to read more about this, do you have any cites?
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Old 10-26-05, 09:01 PM   #7
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It's not only that, but depending on the blink frequency, a driver can completely miss you if he happens to scan across you as the blinker is inbetween blinks. (Yes I've seen some that blink REAL slow.)

I would recommend a bright solid center red with two amber ones flanking it. You want immediate recognition as a vehicle on the road + the impression of width. Having blinking ambers works too as drivers think you're either slow or stopped immediately. Don't try to act like some christmas tree, act like a vehicle.
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Old 10-26-05, 09:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slvoid
It's not only that, but depending on the blink frequency, a driver can completely miss you if he happens to scan across you as the blinker is inbetween blinks. (Yes I've seen some that blink REAL slow.)
That's why I am interested in this. From my own long experience as a driver, tired, droopy-eyed, ticked off, distracted and yes, drunk too many times in my younger days, my experience is the opposite. Solid red, amber and even white lites are too much like a vehicle, too normal, to easy to blur into nothingness similar to white line fever, but flashing lights get my attention real quick (guilt complex maybe, or just way too used to looking for cops). When something goes against what I know from my own experience, I want to find out more. I agree with the your point about flashing too slowly though, from a distance that can actually put you over the edge from drowsy to 'OMG WE'RE GONNA DIE' sleep!
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Old 10-27-05, 09:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipcom
That's why I am interested in this. From my own long experience as a driver, tired, droopy-eyed, ticked off, distracted and yes, drunk too many times in my younger days, my experience is the opposite. Solid red, amber and even white lites are too much like a vehicle, too normal, to easy to blur into nothingness similar to white line fever, but flashing lights get my attention real quick (guilt complex maybe, or just way too used to looking for cops). When something goes against what I know from my own experience, I want to find out more. I agree with the your point about flashing too slowly though, from a distance that can actually put you over the edge from drowsy to 'OMG WE'RE GONNA DIE' sleep!
Interesting, chipcom.

I have read studies where blinking lights "attracted" drunk drivers. For that reason, my taillights are not in blinkie mode. But you say it attracted your attention. Hmmm.

In that case, slvoid's advice is very good. mix the two and cover all bases.
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Old 10-27-05, 10:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
Interesting, chipcom.

I have read studies where blinking lights "attracted" drunk drivers. For that reason, my taillights are not in blinkie mode. But you say it attracted your attention. Hmmm.

In that case, slvoid's advice is very good. mix the two and cover all bases.
I didn't say they attracted me, I said they got my attention. To me, attracted means 'drawn to' while getting my attention means that I notice them. I do a combo myself, though I really don't use flash mode, but rather the mode where the LEDs move in a pattern, which IMHO is a good compromise bewteen the 'quiet' solid and the 'loud' flashing.
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Old 10-27-05, 01:52 PM   #11
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I prefer mine blinking. I've seen a couple riders at night with solid lights that just faded into the background of traffic at a distance. Most bike lights blink pretty fast,which really makes them stand out.

I'd be interested in reading these studies about blinking lights attracting drunks. I know people have run into cop cars after getting target fixation,but these were regular drivers and not specifically drunks. I think in these cases they fixated because of the cop car;they were curious about what was happening or worried about getting a ticket. Are drunks attracted to the blinkies on road cones/barrels?

As I said,I'd like to read some of these studies. I the meantime,I know how noticable my blinkies are,and will continue to use them.

To the OP: I'd advise adding reflective material to the bike and yourself to show clearance;put some on the edges of the panniers and on your sleeves and pant legs. And stick with red,yellow,and white lights. Blue might not be legal and green might be confusing. Don't want the drivers associating 'green means go' with your lights.
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Old 10-27-05, 02:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipcom
I didn't say they attracted me, I said they got my attention. To me, attracted means 'drawn to' while getting my attention means that I notice them. I do a combo myself, though I really don't use flash mode, but rather the mode where the LEDs move in a pattern, which IMHO is a good compromise bewteen the 'quiet' solid and the 'loud' flashing.
Poor choice of words on my part.

Should have said "captured"
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Old 10-27-05, 04:34 PM   #13
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I use flash mode during pre-sunset hours and solid a bit after the sun goes down and it gets darker.

The flash makes it more noticable when there is already ambient light.

This morning (a few minutes before sun was rising, but already bright enough to see) I turned right and a flashing light caught my eye way down the road in the distance among all the brighter rear taillights of cars. I knew immediately there was a cyclist there and confirmed when I caught up to them. I am not sure if I would have noticed if their light had been solid.

Even so, I prefer the solid light after dark.

Al
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Old 10-27-05, 06:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
Poor choice of words on my part.

Should have said "captured"
naa, I understood your meaning when I read it the second time...poor comprehension on my part.
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Old 10-27-05, 06:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
This morning (a few minutes before sun was rising, but already bright enough to see) I turned right and a flashing light caught my eye way down the road in the distance among all the brighter rear taillights of cars. I knew immediately there was a cyclist there and confirmed when I caught up to them. I am not sure if I would have noticed if their light had been solid.
It's not nice to brag about catching and dropping me, Al.
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Old 10-27-05, 07:14 PM   #16
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How about the chaser settings on some lights? The chaser will be similar to blinkies, but without the impression of being a construction barrier, etc.
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Old 10-28-05, 09:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipcom
It's not nice to brag about catching and dropping me, Al.
Yeah, on my AM commute I took detour up to Ohio, caught you then rode back and made it to work just in time.

(Catching 99% of other cyclists here is nothing to brag about, I'd estimate most are doing about 15mph, of course those on the road are usually going faster)

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Old 10-29-05, 07:13 AM   #18
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I find a single flashing light can go from a attention-getter (good) to a distraction (bad), so I use two led rear lights. One on the rack in flashing mode to get attention and identify me as a slow-moving vehicule and another on the seat post on solid. I don't want drivers to wonder what I am because while they do that, they are still rolling and aren't paying attention to anything else.
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Old 10-29-05, 07:37 AM   #19
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I recently added a couple of rear lights (red), totalling 3. I had them all blinking one night a couple of weeks ago. They are very bright and attention-getting, which I initially was considering to be a good thing. That night some guys in a jeep missed me by about 6 inches on a very wide road. I'm quite certain they did it on purpose. It made me wonder if all my flashing lights might make me more of a target for some crazy drunks looking for a bit of excitement?

I think I'll tone down the blinky-factor, see how it goes.
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Old 10-29-05, 08:59 PM   #20
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What country do you live in? In America it's against the law to use a green or blue light on a bike. The rear is suppose to use only red and the front can use amber or white. Also in America most police agencies will tell you to use a flashing red light for the rear, whereas in Europe and I think Canada says to use a steady red light; not sure why the difference.
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Old 10-30-05, 10:30 AM   #21
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As you call tell under my icon, I live in IL. I know that flashing or steady lights other than red, yellow or clear are illegal. I've never been pulled over for the illegal colored but they have been brought up in friendly conversation when they ask where are we heading, where are we coming from and my favorite, "How long is that thing?" Maybe here in the Midwest, law enforcement is more laid back. My response is that it is an attention getter. More cars will tend to reduce their speed when they approach multiple colored blinkers, thinking that it is a law enforcement or emergency vehicle. What kind of law enforcement official would cite me as long as there are cars displaying different colored under car lighting, red, blue or green front turn signal lenses, blue dot inserts on the rear signal lenses, red or blue auxillary lighting that is clearly illegal, high energy strobing hazard lights and headliamps (clearly imitating an emergency vehicle) and now Tireflys available in a wide variety of colors.

I usually thank the officer (politely and diplomatically) for not citing drivers for those violations as it makes me "feel" safer on the road for using mine.

I've ridden in Canada on several occasions and the constapoles never mentions anything about the red blinkers on the rear of my touring bike. In Canada, law enforcement IS taken seriously and bicycle safety is adhered to.
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Old 10-30-05, 11:17 AM   #22
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I haven't ever tried one on a bike, but a marine strobe light would make you as noticable as a garbage truck or snowplow operating at night, you notice the indirect strobe light 2 blocks before you see the vehicle and even around corners.


Maybe when I turn the Schwinn into the mother ship from Close Encounters

just kidding. I'm usually 1 blinkie front and back with 'flecco tape and a high powered headlamp if its needed. I like the idea of a wider profile idea, emulating a vehicle, I might try some amber blinkies mounted outboard on the panniers this winter.

I've noticed my own blinkies light up the 3M 'flecco tape on my bikes somewhat without headlamps hitting it.
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Old 10-30-05, 01:09 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OnYoLeft
my favorite, "How long is that thing?"
I don't think I want to know what you are showing them when *that* question comes up!
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Old 10-30-05, 01:11 PM   #24
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I have two tail lights on my bike. A B&M D-Toplight Permanent that has a large reflective surface and a NiteRider 16 LED one that can be set steady or flashing. The NR one is practically a death ray. I usually leave it flashing and the B&M on steady.
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Old 10-30-05, 01:26 PM   #25
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Michael, how do you like the B&M Toplight? It's a 4D, right?

Thanks.
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