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Old 04-27-10, 04:50 PM   #1
Jethro
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Red Flashing Light Law - Louisiana

Representative Wayne Waddell from Shreveport has introduced House Bill 1121 that changes the existing Louisiana law requiring cyclists to use a rear, red reflector. The modified law will require cyclists to use a red-flashing tail light.

Personally, I think enacting a rear light requirement is a good move. However, I think specifying that the tail light be a red-flashing light goes too far. Individuals should be permitted to elect whether to use a flashing versus steady mode light.

My appreciation is that no concensus exists as to which mode of operation, steady versus flashing, is safer. I also have the impression that no other state has adopted a flashing tail light requirement and that the UK and Germany actually prohibit flashing head and tail lights.

Can anyone weigh-in on their experiences with similar legislation? Do you have any citiations to studies on the subject that I may make reference to in filing additional comments with my representative? Thank you very much for your attention to this development.
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Old 04-27-10, 05:19 PM   #2
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Not really what you're asking, but I run all of my lights as flashers ( except occasionally for the headlight, when it's dark and I need a better view of the road ) because it's so much more efficient. The battery life more or less doubles. Some of my lights use AA pairs, which I have a charger for, and others use proprietary ones that I have to go chase down somewhere. Of course the rear light has the harder-to-replace batteries...
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Old 04-27-10, 05:26 PM   #3
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The tail-light on one of my bikes does not offer a flashing mode - since it is made in Germany where flashing is verboten.

The light does nothing for the cyclist, it is an aide for motorists who may not be paying attention to where they are driving. I would prefer it if the law were written to read that a motorist must provide at least 3' of clearance to any cyclist who has a red flashing light.
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Old 04-27-10, 05:44 PM   #4
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Does this apply night and day?

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Old 04-27-10, 06:23 PM   #5
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I'm looking, I'm looking... I thought I once linked to a study or two that said that distance & speed recognition was more difficult when viewing flashing lights.

I can only say that I sometimes have a hell of a time if the only thing I can see of another cyclist is a light that blinks at a moderate tempo, especially if it's their only headlight. By the time I register where one blink happened, the light blinks off, the bike moves another few feet, then the next blink starts.

Maybe the law was simply written while being ignorant of the fact that bicycle taillights also have steady-on modes. Lawmakers don't know everything, ya know.
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Old 04-27-10, 06:29 PM   #6
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I don't much care what the law says as long as they enforce it...

FWIW I have a red reflector, a solid red light and a red flasher on the rear of my bikes that get ridden at night. The rest typically have a rear red reflector that came with it.

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Old 04-27-10, 06:59 PM   #7
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In the USA, flashing lights are typically illegal on everything except emergency vehicles, so this would be an interesting exception.

In Texas, at least, the law is funny because you can have a flashing light on your person, but not on your bike. My guess is that most cops here don't know about this picayune distinction.
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Old 04-27-10, 07:21 PM   #8
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I don't much care what the law says as long as they enforce it...
Like Portland?

http://bikeportland.org/2009/03/17/w...-light-arrest/

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Old 04-27-10, 07:47 PM   #9
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red reflector requirements are from the UVC, as almost universally adopted by all the states (white light red rear reflector); this is essentially an independent anti cyclist action on the part of the state of Louisiana, which was also the first state in the union to ban group rides.

It will simply be used by the police to harass cyclists. The only car coming from the rear that is a danger to a cyclist is the one directly behind the cyclist, and a good rear reflector is more than sufficient to warn that driver of your presence.
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Old 04-27-10, 08:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
In the USA, flashing lights are typically illegal on everything except emergency vehicles, so this would be an interesting exception.
I have searched Illinois Vehicle Code and while most motor vehicles are prohibited from having flashing lights I see nothing prohibiting them on bicycles.

As a side note, even certain non emergency motor vehicles are allowed to run flashing lights.
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Old 04-27-10, 08:22 PM   #11
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I disagree. Lights are better than reflectors, always. Sheldon Brown has a good site about all the things that can go wrong with a reflector. Whether a flashing light is better is very much a question worth debating, however. Personally, I run a steady light, I think it gives more of a vehicle vibe, as well as making speed judgments easier.
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Old 04-27-10, 08:45 PM   #12
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Sure, its okay to require a light, but require it flash?

None of my dynamo lights flash and I wouldn't be up for adding a second light just to satisfy the law.
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Old 04-27-10, 09:56 PM   #13
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Old 04-28-10, 12:32 AM   #14
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Old 04-28-10, 12:34 AM   #15
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I'd vote for non-flashing as well. Most EU bicycle light standards call for steady rear lights. But there could be better reflector standards as well, and I don't mean the current CSPC reflector standard.
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Old 04-28-10, 02:58 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
In the USA, flashing lights are typically illegal on everything except emergency vehicles, so this would be an interesting exception.

In Texas, at least, the law is funny because you can have a flashing light on your person, but not on your bike. My guess is that most cops here don't know about this picayune distinction.
Who knew, almost every motorist in the US has illegal equipment on their car with those emergency flashers that the government requires manufacturers to install on all new cars.
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Old 04-28-10, 04:56 AM   #17
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In NY "light bars" are regulated. If you put a red or blue flashing light bar on top of your car you can get a ticket. OTOH, anyone can put a yellow flashing bar on top of their car ( around here they are called "Whoo hooo" bars and generally used for safety vehicles and volunteer firefighters ). Personally I'm with the above posters that they should either standardize with some other area or leave flashing/steady up to the user to decide. Either way it's useless to pass another law unless they actually intend to enforce it.
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Old 04-28-10, 06:49 AM   #18
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VA law as summarized on WABA's site:
Quote:
Front white light and rear red reflector required when dark, may be attached to operator; rear red light required on roads 35 mph and up.
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Old 04-28-10, 07:32 AM   #19
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I think it's a very good idea to require at least one rear light at night. Whether the light ought to be steady or flashing is highly debatable; why not give the rider the choice?

As for the advantages of a light over a reflector, one big advantage is that the light gives drivers FAR earlier warning that a cyclist is ahead, so that the driver can plan accordingly. A reflector, even if it works as designed, doesn't register until the last few seconds, especially if the night is dark and/or the rider's wearing dark clothes.
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Old 04-28-10, 07:42 AM   #20
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^^^ That's assuming, of course, that the light is actually bright enough. I've seen some lights (well, "seen" isn't really the right word) that were as dim as the rider's clothing -- and their clothes didn't even have any reflective strips.
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Old 04-28-10, 07:49 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by jediphobic
Lights are better than reflectors, always.

reflectors are ALWAYS much more effective than blinkies with dead batteries, malfunctioning switches or when not turned on.

reflectors should not be removed from required safety equipment lists. cyclists should legally able to supplement the reflector with a light.

Germany still has reflector requirements BTW as do all (most?) countries in europe.

WA state law requires rear reflector, front light visible to 500 feet, and allows red taillights as supplemental equipment, but does not require them.
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Old 04-28-10, 07:50 AM   #22
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Joey?
I run a red or amber blinkie after dark. I like the amber one best, so I am not so thrilled about the color choice in the law.
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Old 04-28-10, 07:58 AM   #23
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it needs to be brought to the attention of the louisiana legislature that going out of compliance with the UVC by requiring robust, non-powered safety equipment be replaced with fallible, sometimes ineffective safety equipment while providing a disincentive to active transportation AND a tool for discriminatory law enforcement is a pisspoor move for cyclist safety.

maybe the legislature could go about directing the state patrol to do focused advocacy where they hand out free lights to cyclists but do not require their use. it could save the state a lot of money while not providing a disincentive to active transportation in your state.
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Old 04-28-10, 08:43 AM   #24
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I disagree. Lights are better than reflectors, always. Sheldon Brown has a good site about all the things that can go wrong with a reflector. Whether a flashing light is better is very much a question worth debating, however. Personally, I run a steady light, I think it gives more of a vehicle vibe, as well as making speed judgments easier.
That is my reasoning for the steady on tail light. I run the flasher for increased visibility. I had my wife follow me one night and video tape my bike while I was riding a certain stretch of road. My tail light by itself blended into the background of other city lights. The PB Superflash was much more obvious. Also once the car was in head light range it picked up my reflectors as well as the safety vest I wear.

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Old 04-28-10, 08:51 AM   #25
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In Illinois we are in the silly season in which legislators -- tired, bored, and desperate for attention -- introduce bills that have not a chance of making it all the way through the grinder to final approval. Is this also true in the great state of Louisiana?
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