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  1. #1
    Senior Member chtorr's Avatar
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    Tail Lights: Blinking or Solid?

    It seems like most people run their tail lights in blinking mode, as this supposedly draws more attention from drivers. But I wonder if running tail lights on solid (provided they're pretty bright) would be better since drivers would more likely see your bike as a "vehicle". Drivers are able to see other cars, none of whom have blinking tail lights.

    I have two tail lights on the back of my bike (Planet Bike Superflash and Cateye LD1000) and have turned them on and parked my bike next to my truck with its lights on. The bike lights on solid are actually a little brighter than my truck's tail lights ('91 Toyota 4 x 4). Admittedly my truck's tail lights aren't the brightest but I would say they're probably close to average. If drivers can see my truck's tail lights, I don't see how they could possibly miss my bike (which also has a rear reflector and reflective material on the seat bag).

    Does anyone else think it's possibly safer to run solid tail lights in order to be recognized as a vehicle?

  2. #2
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I use both when it is dark outside. At minimum a solid (LD1000) and a flash (PBSF)

    I use both in blinkie mode when it is dim outside as my even dim bike/body/reflector provides a solid reference point.

    Al

  3. #3
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    I plan on running the PBSF blinkie on my saddle and the LD1000 solid on the rear rack.
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

    --Robert Hurst

  4. #4
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    As indicated by the incessant honking from cagers, it seems like my solid 4 led 12v DOT trailer light works perfectly fine for me.
    Florida Velodrome Association.
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    CAT-2. Road Bike: 2011 Specialized Allez SRAM Apex. .. and yes, I am vegan.

  5. #5
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    I read something recently that in very dark conditions blinking lights are harded to judge distance. This winter I plan on running both solid and blink. Formerly, I've always put everything on blink.
    Current rear setup:
    reflector rear rack, loads of reflective tape
    cateye LD 1000 on courier bag solid
    cateye LD 1000 on seatpost flash
    planet bike superflast on rear stay flash
    planet bike 3 led on seatpost solid
    generic free linkie on helmet flash

    The point isn't just that they see you, but that they differentiate you from cars. ...that they do a "what the heck is that" and exercise some caution as they close and pass.
    One Less Car
    Conservation begins with you.

  6. #6
    almost kosher
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    both prolly would be best. personally, i do find the blinkies to be rather noisome though. especially on group rides.

  7. #7
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    Solid red on rack bag and backpack.

    Blinkie on seat.

    Lots of reflective tape, just to be sure!

    It seems the combination of both solid and blinkie is popular with those who regulary commute in the dark.

    I think car drivers recognize a blinkie as most likely being attached to a bicycle. Also, any pedal reflectors or shoe reflectors emphasize the pedalling motion, further indentifying you as a bicycle.

    Hey, I always get a wide berth when they pass...

    I do not use lights or blinkies during the day. However...I do have a long, dark freeway underpass that I have to go through on my way home...after the time change, I'll turn on my lights before the start of my trip home, since it will be dark by the time I get home...
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

  8. #8
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chtorr View Post
    Does anyone else think it's possibly safer to run solid tail lights in order to be recognized as a vehicle?

    On dark roads a really bright flashing tail light is over powering to motorists, which makes it hard for them to see around you. After dark I put the PBSF on steady and run a basic lower power blinkie on flash to still catch attention. In bright city conditions I'd leave it on flash.
    Have Bike, Will Travel

  9. #9
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tappets View Post
    both prolly would be best. personally, i do find the blinkies to be rather noisome though. especially on group rides.
    I run mine solid if there's going to be a cyclist behind me, otherwise it's on some form of blink/pattern.

    Flashing mode in low light (cloudy or dawn/dusk) or the random mode on it if it's dark out. (Flash blinks all the LED's at once, random has one random LED lit up at a time)

    On the front I run an LED flashlight on flash mode, and my 15 Watt halogen lights if I need them.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sledbikes's Avatar
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    i run solid since it can be seen from a distance
    riding and pimpin again

  11. #11
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    night=steady

    day=flashing

  12. #12
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    I prefer both, but when riding with a group I think solid is preferred by the others in the group.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  13. #13
    livin' the nightmare syn0n's Avatar
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    I run mine steady. It's plenty dark where I normally ride so the steady is more than adequate for visibility. I also find that sometimes blinkies can be painful to look at when they blink really fast in the dark, so I only use the blinking or random modes when I'm on a well-lit city street, where there are more cars and I need to catch their attention.

  14. #14
    Spinning @ 33 RPM Glynis27's Avatar
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    I have a Mars 3.0 and normally run it on chase mode. It seems to be the best of both worlds. My friend also has a Mars 3.0 and after following him home last night I will remember to never use the flash mode when on a group ride. That thing blinded me numerous times. In chase mode it only turns on 1 LED at a time so it is much less bright overall. When I get another taillight, I will start using one on chase and one on solid at night.

  15. #15
    Back after a long absence joelpalmer's Avatar
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    Right now I'm primarily blinking (reelights) and as soon as the new wheels for my commuter are built I'll have dynamo-powered steadies.
    When the going gets weird the weird turn pro
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    '74 Scwhinn Speedster, 70s Raleigh Super Course, '05 LHT custom

  16. #16
    Conservative Hippie
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    I think flashing lights are more attention grabbing, while steady lights give better spatial awareness. My coworkers have verified this after seeing me on the way to work, telling me they pick up on the flashing lights from over a mile away when they see me on the right stretch of highway. We start before daylight year 'round. By the steady lights they can see that the thing up ahead is moving. If they didn't know it was me they wouldn't know, by the lights, what it is or that it's a bicycle from that far away, but it's easy to determine that there is definitely something there.

    On the back of my helmet is a Mars 3.0 run steady on.

    On me is a red LED flashing reflective vest.

    On my seat post is a Cateye TL-LD1000, one bank on flash, the other steady on.

    On the back of my rear rack (on a bike that has one) is a Cateye TD-LD500 run steady on.

    If I'm towing one of my trailers, the above light is omitted in favor of a TL-LD500 on each rear corner of the trailer run steady on.

    I've been thinking about rigging up some yellow clearance lights for the sides of the canoe, like the big rig trailers. It's such a long trailer, over 15' total length.
    Last edited by CommuterRun; 09-26-07 at 06:44 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Sledbikes's Avatar
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    this beats LEds by a mile and can be seen from

    riding and pimpin again

  18. #18
    Conservative Hippie
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    Fantastic side visibility, but I don't see anything fore and aft. Wouldn't meet legal requirements 'round these parts.

    Cool looking set up, though.

  19. #19
    loves his IRO. eXCeSS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sledbikes View Post
    this beats LEds by a mile and can be seen from

    Having blue lights on your car (unless youre a firefighter) in NY is illegal.

    I'd assume the same for a bike, but hey, it looks sweet.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Sledbikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun View Post
    Fantastic side visibility, but I don't see anything fore and aft. Wouldn't meet legal requirements 'round these parts.

    Cool looking set up, though.
    cars can see it the halo is a lot brighter, thats how dark it is around here as we dont have streetlights
    riding and pimpin again

  21. #21
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    Look up at night the next time a commercial aircraft flies overhead. Strobes to get your attention against the background of stars (or lights on the ground if you were in an aircraft above it), solid lights to aid tracking the object once you detect it. Same lighting principle on tall radio antennas.

    Based on these, I think both a flashing and steady lights. Two steady lights might be best so that other vehicles can judge how fast the distance between you and them changes based on how the separation between the two steady lights changes.

  22. #22
    Senior Member chtorr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giro View Post
    Look up at night the next time a commercial aircraft flies overhead. Strobes to get your attention against the background of stars (or lights on the ground if you were in an aircraft above it), solid lights to aid tracking the object once you detect it. Same lighting principle on tall radio antennas.

    Based on these, I think both a flashing and steady lights. Two steady lights might be best so that other vehicles can judge how fast the distance between you and them changes based on how the separation between the two steady lights changes.
    This makes a lot of sense. I may try my Superflash on solid and the Cateye "pickle" with one bank on solid and the other on flash. The Superflash is actually brighter than the Cateye on solid mode (also brighter when flashing). That may be the best of both worlds -- a lot of solid red light with a smaller amount of flashing red light.

  23. #23
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Europe = solid, US = WTF?

  24. #24
    hrc.org [=] beoba's Avatar
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    I have a light which does a flashing pattern across 5 or so LEDs, where at any given moment at least one LED is on. I guess it could be considered "hybrid". I tend to use this since it both grabs attention and continually shows my position/velocity.
    "Buy a better life from the comfort of your sofa."

  25. #25
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I run a solid light on my bike and a blinkie is mounted at the back of my helmet... the extra height of the blinkie is really atention grabbing since it is well above the levek of most tail lights.

    Some research also indicates the blinking lights are like a magnet to impaired drivers who will unconciously target in on the blinking light...which is a really bad thing.

    I run a 1 w or 10 w led up front and also run a small white blinkie that I mount to the head tube so it's flashing doesn't bother me

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