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  1. #1
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Front light and traffic response

    I have a quite bright front light (a Cygolite Night Rover NiMH xtra) - 16W halogen, handlebar mount. It is certainly more than bright enough to be seen by cars from a far distance and to see the road at 20mph.

    But I still find that compared to day riding, cars are left turning right into my path of travel - as if they don't see me, so far I have been able to avoid being hit (hard braking, swerving, etc.), but there are too many close calls. When this happen I am not hugging the right side, but in the center of the lane. In fact I've never had such close calls in daylight.

    I don't think it is a raw visibiliy issue, but that the car drivers just don't know how fast I am going or how far away I am. But then again my wife and I have tested (she in car) and she says I look like a motorcycle - so why should cars think I am going slow?

    I have heard that a helmet mounted front light in combination with bar light, may help with this distance perception - I really don't need one for seeing and don't want the expense - so perhaps a small LED white light may do the job (like those $10 cateye ones that are on a strap to attach anywhere)

    What do others think?

    Al

  2. #2
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    Night riding has it's challenges, but overall it's about as safe as daytime-but you do need to be lit up. This is what I've done to make my presence seen, but of course other posters will have other ideas so pick what suits you.

    I have a Cygo Metro mounted on the bars of course, but in the city I use only the flood; I combine that with a Cateye xenon amber flasher that is mounted on the stem and the light sets in front of the head tube. I just added the flasher about 3 weeks ago and so far it seems to working better then just a light alone. The flashing seems to be attracting their attention pretty good; I have watched people stop suddenly as if they weren't paying attention then suddenly they saw something, wave me through, and flash their lights at me-why? I don't know!

    For the rear I use the Cateye 300 with 5 LED's which is astonishing bright; plus I use those little endbar tailights. I also use a pair of 1 1/2 wide reflective leg bands on the ankles, a reflective strip is on the seatbag, and I put reflective tape on the helmet. I've have several people come up to me over the past year since I added the endbar lights and comment on how well they could see me from behind; so something is working.

    I think a helmet light is a good idea, I don't use one. But at least you can use it to look down at the computer or maybe flash in someones eyes. Problem is I don't want one of those large bottle battery type of bright helmet lights, I already have enough battery weight, so IF I get one I may get the new Cateye Compact Opticube; but so far I don't think I need it.

  3. #3
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Any LED, even the single bulb LED's are horribly bright if you stare directly at it.
    The cateye EL400 has 3 of em and the strap mounts to your helmet pretty good. Or you can get a camping headlamp that uses LED's like the petzel zipka.

  4. #4
    Right calf grease tattoo Alphie's Avatar
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    Cars in front of me do not concern me nearly as much as those coming from behind, especially at night. Using just the 10w part of my 10+20w rechargeable halogen cars seem to notice me just fine. My 3 led Cateye flashing headlight will soon be added to the 5 led Cateye "strip" taillight for greater rear visibility (along with the reflective tape on my fenders, crank, seatbag and reflective ankle bands).

  5. #5
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Two lights, spaced as far apart as practical, may make you more visible than one. A fairly central white headlamp and flashing yellow LED blinkies at the ends of the handlebars may be effective. A similar system, such as a central large red blinkie flanked by widely-spaced yellow blinkies, may be useful in back.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    my wife and I have tested (she in car) and she says I look like a motorcycle - so why should cars think I am going slow?
    Al
    The greatest cause of motorcycle fatalities is oncoming cars turning across them. More lights or flashing lights may help, but its up to you to watch out for dozy drivers.

  7. #7
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    Drivers don't see with their eyes...they see with their brain. And, their brain reacts to an 18-wheeler coming directly through an intersection at night by NOT turning left into its path.

    But, a little light, weaving slowing throught the night? Their eyes may register it, but their brain is not going to react. That little light represents no danger to the driver, so it ceases to exist.

    So, assume you are invisible. Assume that the vehicle coming towards you will do whatever thing would be the single dumbest thing the driver could do.

    When I am at a "low traffic" intersection (where perhaps one or two cars enter in a five minute period) I simply wait until no vehicle is within fifty yards or so before entering the intersection.

    Many of the intersections in my neighborhood are "five by five". Five lanes heading north and south. Five lanes heading east and west (including the "turn only" lanes). Many drivers just do what they are going to do, regardless the light cycle.

    Although I don't like doing it, I often get off the bike and walk across a "five by five" intersection. In my town, the same drivers who pretend that I am invisible while I am riding will actually stop for a red light and allow me to walk in front of their vehicle while I'm walking. I don't know why I get treated better at such intersections while walking, but I'll take courtesy where I find it.

  8. #8
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    I've noticed significantly better treatment from cars at night since I got an HID light. If you can squeeze it out of your bike budget, it's worth the price in safety. The bright light makes me look more like a motorcycle to oncoming traffic.

    Instead of waiting for an intersection to clear of all potential vehicles like alanbikehouston, I assert my correct place, but I keep an escape value, say, like a quick right turn to avoid a car turning left in front of me. I've found that I get more respect from cars when I ride assertively. At five by five intersections, I just get in my proper lane and stay there.

  9. #9
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Yesterday morning I tried my cateye EL500 and EL200 from about 100 feet away, staring directly straight at it as well as about 10 degrees off on each side, the EL200 looks like a bright spot of light, the EL500, cause of the way the beam looks like an actual HID enclosure, looks like a HID, almost the same color and glare and everything.

    Only problem is, people respect MOTORcycles as much as they do bikers sometimes and there's not much you can do about that. If the law doesn't specifically prohibit it, I think the better option would be to have a bright amber, even red, blinker up front next to two bright LED blinkers along with the lights.

  10. #10
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    The greatest cause of motorcycle fatalities is oncoming cars turning across them. More lights or flashing lights may help, but its up to you to watch out for dozy drivers.
    Exactly. I started this thread to see if it was a univeral problem for riding at night, apparently so. I never or very rarely had cars turn accross me in the day, but quite often at night. Also in the day I can better read the body/car language of the cars coming the other way and anticipate if they are turning before or waiting until after I pass.

    I am quite sure it is not a brightness issue, but a driver recognition (what is it, how far away is it, how fast is it going) issue.

    So the best approach is to be alert (I would be hard for me to be more alert) and expect and plan for the worst. Secondly to have more than one bright light up front this may help with the speed/distance perception of the driver - I did order an LED white light for the helmet.

    Al

  11. #11
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    I am quite sure it is not a brightness issue, but a driver recognition (what is it, how far away is it, how fast is it going) issue.
    Al
    This is definitely a driver recognition issue. You are not a dump truck or a double trailer semi barrelling down the road, thus there is no perceived risk to the driver. Most drivers only respond to self danger events and not to safe driving practices. Number one cause of motorcycle accidents is driver making left hand turn in pathway in front of cyclist. It is worst for bikers as you are less of a threat than a motorcycle. Most americans have purchased trucks, suv's, so they can feel safer in running over anything in front of them.

    Expect them not to see you.

    If this happens a few times, go to REI and get the safety headlight. It is 3 yellow lights. You can set either steady or flashing mode. Follow the motorcyclists example, and make your vehicle appear larger. To really spook the drivers get 4 of these buggers. They are cheap, $12 each. Put 2 on the handle bars and 2 on the front forks. Combined with a headlight this would give you 5 sets of lights for them to see.

    Good luck and safe pedaling.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Faust's Avatar
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    Does anyone have any experience with a reflective vest, front and back, in addition to good lighting?

    I've noticed, as do the other posters, that drivers coming from behind and looking to make a right, as well as drivers coming towards me and making a left, at times seem not to see me. Even in broad daylight or at night with my Niterider Digital Pro 12-E with the very bright daylight visible tail light.

    Just this week a group of people crossed the street right in front of my forcing me to slow. Only one woman noticed me and stopped to allow me to pass. The rest of the crowd seemed to be blind to my presence, and were crossing without even glancing in the direction of oncoming traffic. Sleepwalking!

  13. #13
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Sounds like you need an Air Zound 2. peds don't pay attention to lights.

  14. #14
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by huffypuffy
    Sounds like you need an Air Zound 2. peds don't pay attention to lights.
    And almost not even to air zounds. Jeeze.

    A "Get the f#$8 out of the way" usually jumps them back... lol.

  15. #15
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    I think a front flasher may be the answer.

    The problem I experience most is cars coming from parking lots on my right side. When they approach the street after my headlight beam has gone past the driveway, I feel like they don't see me. I actually stopped twice tonight on my way home because I didn't think the car coming from a parking lot was going to stop. I will probably get some kind of front flasher and angle it to the right. Does anyone know whether the mounting hardware allows this?
    Tom

  16. #16
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    I got passed on the left today by a bike. He rang the bell but I didn't recognize what the sound meant. "On your left" worked very well !!! I pulled to the right and he went flying by

  17. #17
    Bike Happy DanFromDetroit's Avatar
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    I use two front lights. A 10W halogen headlight and a blinking 3 LED light (ViewPoint Flare). these are spaced apart a bit on the handlebar.

    The 10W halogen is used to see with. The blinking light makes me more noticable, as it catches the eye better. It also helps provoke a "What the He11 is that ?" reaction from the average motoring primate. This reaction causes them to slow down a little while they try to make sense of what they are seeing.

    Dan
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