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Old 01-14-08, 05:50 AM   #1
freighttraininguphill
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Red & white taillight in CA

I live in California. I have the Serfas TL-LB5 LED taillight, which has 3 red LED's in the middle and 1 white LED on either side of the red for a total of 5 LED's. A friend has the same light. We bought these at the LBS. Yesterday a young (rookie?) cop told her she could only have a red taillight, not red and white. I Googled "California bicycle law" and didn't find anything about red and white being illegal. The only restricted light color in CA is blue.

Here's the link to the light on Serfas' website: http://www.serfas.com/product.asp?ProductID=308

I use mine on my recumbent along with a Planet Bike Superflash and a Lightman amber LED flasher. If the red and white is going to be a problem I'll replace the Serfas with another Superflash, which is brighter anyway.

Any thoughts?
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Old 01-14-08, 06:17 AM   #2
Da Tinker
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Don't just look for bicycle law, but vehicle laws, since bicycles are vehicles. The California vehicle code is here:http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/ca...odesection=veh
And the bike section is here:http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/di...le=21200-21212

Courtesy of Massbike.org
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Old 01-14-08, 07:43 AM   #3
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3 Beam Modes - Red Steady, White Steady, Flashing

Try red steady.
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Old 01-14-08, 08:09 AM   #4
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Flashing lights of any kind are prohibited on vehicles in California, except for a long list of exceptions (none of which specify bicycles as being authorized to use flashing lights). This law isn't usually enforced as far as cyclists are concerned, but your friend was probably in violation of Vehicle Code section 25250 and could have likely been ticketed for that. If you want to read up on the flashing light laws for California, look up Vehicle Code sections 25250-25282. 25250 is the prohibition, the rest of the sections are the exceptions.

FWIW I'm in California and I run daylight visible flashing lights front and rear during the day, and change them to solid front with a mix of solid and flashing in the rear at night. I haven't been pulled over, and my rear setup is pretty impressive at night (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCWWD-6tvD4). All my forward facing lights are white, and all my rear facing lights are red. I think having white facing rearward or red facing forward could be confusing to other road users, and was clearly unusual and/or confusing enough for the officer to take the time to talk with your friend.
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Old 01-14-08, 03:32 PM   #5
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@JeffB502:
Badass lights!

Anyway, I always see flashers around here in SoCal, either that or no lights at all. Very few people seem to ride with solid lights except in the front.
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Old 01-14-08, 08:11 PM   #6
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Possibly the law in California is similar to the one in Washington, no white light to the rear of a vehicle, except backup lights.
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Old 01-15-08, 06:45 AM   #7
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Found it Ed...this is probably the section the officer was referring to. That makes 2 equipment violations the officer could have cited the op's friend for if the officer felt like pushing the issue.

From www.leginfo.ca.gov, Vehicle Code:

25950. This section applies to the color of lamps and to any
reflector exhibiting or reflecting perceptible light of 0.05 candela
or more per foot-candle of incident illumination. Unless provided
otherwise, the color of lamps and reflectors upon a vehicle shall be
as follows:
[SNIP]
(b) The emitted light from all lamps and the reflected light from
all reflectors, visible from the rear of a vehicle, shall be red
except as follows:
(1) Stoplamps on vehicles manufactured before January 1, 1979, may
show yellow to the rear.
(2) Turn signal lamps may show yellow to the rear.
(3) Front side marker lamps required by Section 25100 may show
yellow to the rear.
(4) Backup lamps shall show white to the rear.
(5) The rearward facing portion of a front-mounted double-faced
turn signal lamp may show amber to the rear while the headlamps or
parking lamps are lighted, if the intensity of the light emitted is
not greater than the parking lamps and the turn signal function is
not impaired.
(6) A reflector meeting the requirements of, and installed in
accordance with, Section 24611 shall be red or white, or both.

@StrangeWill: Thanks!
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Old 01-15-08, 09:39 AM   #8
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Personally, I believe in doing everything I can to make myself visible. I am far more interested in protecting my personal safety than in following the letter of a law designed for motor vehicles. I have always used one or more flashing rear-facing red blinkies when bicycling or walking/jogging in the dark, and I have no plans to change. Supplementing the red with a little flashing white or amber sounds like a great idea. I am confident that any rational judge would realize that the only real problem is unlighted nighttime cyclists.

I do concur that white lights should dominate at the front of a bicycle and red at the rear, but why not light oneself up like a Christmas tree?
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Old 01-16-08, 08:52 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. I replaced the Serfas with another Superflash but kept my amber Lightman. I agree that a combination of red and amber offers better visibility than red alone, especially in foggy conditions. My friend rides a hybrid and has only one light, so I'll recommend that she get a Superflash or similar bright blinky.

I only run white in the front. I run all my lights in flashing mode and will continue to do so. I have NEVER heard of a cop pulling anyone over just for having flashing lights on a bicycle I don't understand why that cop bothered my friend about the two white LEDs in her light. You would think he would be grateful that she is safety-conscious enough to use front and rear lights, a helmet, and a reflective vest. There are tons of cyclists around here who ride around with no helmet, no lights, and all dark clothing at night, making them much harder to see. I always watch out for them while driving and riding, but many people don't.

Around Christmas time I had the Superflash, the amber Lightman, the Serfas, and BLUE and green Lightman LED blinkies on the back of my recumbent (all in flashing mode), and I had absolutely zero problems with law enforcement. I took the blue and green blinkies off shortly after Christmas. It's a shame California regulates light colors on bikes because I would rather have all those colors back there year round. People loved it, and I like how it looked.
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Old 01-17-08, 02:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentrike View Post
It's a shame California regulates light colors on bikes because I would rather have all those colors back there year round. People loved it, and I like how it looked.
I understand your enthusiasm for the style, but they've got to draw the line somewhere, too.

If leaving it at plain red in the rear and white in front causes less confusion for motorists (and other cyclists, too), then that's how I'd rather go.
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