Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 01-06-05, 04:51 AM   #1
rockmuncher
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Bikes:
Posts: 1,499
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
What is it with blinkies?

Everyone seems to have an attachment to rear blinkies. As an attractant device they make sense, but from a driver's perspective they are confusing in the extreme because they don't offer sufficient spatial positioning information.

If ppl were serious about safety then they would be promoting the use of a SOLID rear light accompanied by a blinkie attractor AND a reflector if required by law. The solid rear light provides continuous spatial positioning information for drivers approaching from the rear, as does the reflector.

So what's the deal with using blinkies on their own? Is the price of a couple of batteries worth more than the price of your life?
rockmuncher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 05:33 AM   #2
Merriwether
Banned.
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Bikes:
Posts: 616
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'm not sure it's unsafe to have only a blinkie visible from a distance-- you're posting only becuase you *see* these lights and have to pause to figure them out, for example.

That said, I agree that it's even better to combine the blinkies with solid lights or reflectors. When I ride with a pair of blinkies and reflectors (ankle, vest, rear rack) I get a lot more room than in the daytime.
Merriwether is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 05:41 AM   #3
rockmuncher
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Bikes:
Posts: 1,499
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Merriwether
I'm not sure it's unsafe to have only a blinkie visible from a distance-- you're posting only becuase you *see* these lights and have to pause to figure them out, for example.
That didn't make any sense at all. If your driving a car and you have to 'pause' or divert your attention from the natural information flow then you are in an unsafe driving state.
rockmuncher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 06:11 AM   #4
andygates
Just riding
 
andygates's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Exeter, UK
Bikes: Cannondale Bad Boy / Mercian track / BOB trailer / Moulton recumbent project
Posts: 651
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
As a driver, I prefer steady lights to blinkies. Blinkies make me think "cyclist" and try to locate him; steadies mean the cyclist is just parsed by my subconscious driver autopilot, the same thing that means I don't hit kerbs and cars and streetsigns.

My brain makes more mistakes than my autopilot. Run both steadies and blinkies, if you like, but run a strong steady light as the minimum if you ride in traffic.
andygates is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 06:12 AM   #5
Merriwether
Banned.
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Bikes:
Posts: 616
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmuncher
That didn't make any sense at all. If your driving a car and you have to 'pause' or divert your attention from the natural information flow then you are in an unsafe driving state.
If you see something you don't understand while driving, then you need to be sure everything is safe. That means you need to slow down until you understand the situation, among other things.

Blinkies can cause drivers to do this. So, not only does it make sense that blinkies increase safety, by causing drivers to slow down in the presence of bicyclists, it's true, too.
Merriwether is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 06:34 AM   #6
Steele-Bike
RAGBRAI. Need I say more?
 
Steele-Bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: West Branch, Iowa USA
Bikes: 1998 Mongoose NX7.1, 2008 Kona Jake, GT singlespeed (year unknown).
Posts: 868
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmuncher
If ppl were serious about safety then they would be promoting the use of a SOLID rear light accompanied by a blinkie attractor AND a reflector if required by law. The solid rear light provides continuous spatial positioning information for drivers approaching from the rear, as does the reflector.
I always figure that most people (at least the ones on BF) already have reflectors in place. I would hope that a single blinkie would not be ones only rear visibilty aid.
Quote:
Originally Posted by andygates
As a driver, I prefer steady lights to blinkies. Blinkies make me think "cyclist" and try to locate him; steadies mean the cyclist is just parsed by my subconscious driver autopilot, the same thing that means I don't hit kerbs and cars and streetsigns.

My brain makes more mistakes than my autopilot. Run both steadies and blinkies, if you like, but run a strong steady light as the minimum if you ride in traffic.
I prefer large amounts of reflectivity in addition to a couple of blinking blinkies. While a steady light is useful for judging distance, I do not feel safe relying on the fact that a motorist is going to take notice to a reflector or a solid light. Think how many times you see a traffic cone (with reflective tape) laying along side the road. Now if that cone would have had a blinkie...
Steele-Bike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 06:34 AM   #7
Becca
Get outdoors! :)
 
Becca's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Charlotte, NC
Bikes: Schwinn Sierra 700 Limited Edition
Posts: 456
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmuncher
Everyone seems to have an attachment to rear blinkies. As an attractant device they make sense, but from a driver's perspective they are confusing in the extreme because they don't offer sufficient spatial positioning information.

If ppl were serious about safety then they would be promoting the use of a SOLID rear light accompanied by a blinkie attractor AND a reflector if required by law. The solid rear light provides continuous spatial positioning information for drivers approaching from the rear, as does the reflector.

So what's the deal with using blinkies on their own? Is the price of a couple of batteries worth more than the price of your life?
I don't know about all states, but Tennessee and North Carolina both require slow-moving vehicles (bikes, horse-drawn carriages, ect) to have blinking rear lights if they have lights at all.

On my bike, my lights blink until I either 1) apply my brakes, or 2) turn on my turn signal. Then the rear light goes solid red.
Becca is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 07:44 AM   #8
John Ridley
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Bikes:
Posts: 268
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I also think at least one steady light should be run.

I run the stock reflector, a truck marker reflector (about 1.5" x 4"), a 5-LED light on the seat post, another 5-LED on my helmet (both on steady light) and an amber xenon strobe blinking twice per second, plus a flagman's reflective vest. 20W halogen + 3LED steady white light plus std reflector up front.

I'm thinking about glo-gloves and reflective tape on the wheels as well.
John Ridley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 07:52 AM   #9
Dahon.Steve
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: New Jersey
Bikes:
Posts: 6,837
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 35 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmuncher
Everyone seems to have an attachment to rear blinkies. As an attractant device they make sense, but from a driver's perspective they are confusing in the extreme because they don't offer sufficient spatial positioning information.

If ppl were serious about safety then they would be promoting the use of a SOLID rear light accompanied by a blinkie attractor AND a reflector if required by law. The solid rear light provides continuous spatial positioning information for drivers approaching from the rear, as does the reflector.

So what's the deal with using blinkies on their own? Is the price of a couple of batteries worth more than the price of your life?
I use two blinkies, one solid and another flashing rapidly. However, if I had only one blinky, it would NOT be solid. Here's why.

1. The solid light might be mistaken as something else. Possibly a cone or it may get lost in a host of other solid lights. In other words, your light gets mixed with those from other motorists.

2. The blinking light is universally understood by the motorist to be a hazzard or danger. This in my opinion is a far better position to be as a cyclist.
Dahon.Steve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 07:57 AM   #10
eubi
No Rocket Surgeon
 
eubi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Corona and S. El Monte, CA
Bikes: Cannondale D600, Dahon Speed T7
Posts: 1,648
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have read studies that show blinking lights add to the confusion of drunk drivers.

No blinkers for me!

For my early morning commute, I use a steady red light clipped to my jersey, reflectors on my shoes and panniers, and a reflective vest. It's obvious SOMETHING is ahead, and the reflectors on the shoes give a good indication of distance.
eubi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 08:13 AM   #11
rule
Senior Member
 
rule's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Wylie, Texas
Bikes:
Posts: 1,922
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
It is definitely a fact that drunks are attracted to blinking lights, at least as far as the cops, firefighters and EMTs in the Dallas area are concerned. They train to watch out for it, and it has saved a number of lives just this year alone. Not sure how that would relate to zeroing in on a cyclist with a blinking tail light, but I sure have thought about it on many of my night rides.

I have also noticed the lack of spatial reference issue with riders when I am driving. Most of the time though, it is a cyclist who is riding with no other reflective material and just a rear blinkie. The ones with reflective material on the heels of their shoes, or on their pedals, and who have reflective material along their torso are pretty easy to interpret.
rule is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 08:25 AM   #12
salmonchild
going down...
 
salmonchild's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: South London
Bikes: Custom Raleigh track steel, Ron Kitching frame, given a budget single-speed job, Saracen Nzyme frame with most components upgraded
Posts: 357
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
in england, it is law to have solid front and rear lights and bike mounted reflectors.
i must say that i don't like 'blinkies' especially if the flash rate is low. its really disconcerting to see a red light that appears then fades and re-appears a couple of meters on down the road
salmonchild is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 08:50 AM   #13
powers2b
Listen to me
 
powers2b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Lexus Texas
Bikes:
Posts: 2,789
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Blinkies make you look though, right?

Don't hate the playa, hate the game.
powers2b is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 09:29 AM   #14
AndrewP
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Montreal
Bikes: Peugeot Hybrid, Minelli Hybrid
Posts: 6,521
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have not distance perception trouble with LED blinkies. They are on long enough to sense the distance. The strobe lights which are only on for 1/1000 sec are a problem.
Cyclists with dark clothes, no lights or reflectors are also a problem.
AndrewP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 11:08 AM   #15
Mars
coitus non circum.
 
Mars's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Bikes:
Posts: 2,495
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think that a blinking light is a positive because a steady light may be harder to pick out against the light clutter of a typical street. Our tailights are dim in comparison to oncoming car headlights, streetlights, storefront signs, etc. they may not be noticable againgst these sources of glare and cognitive interferance. When they are blinking, they draw attention as something dfferent or alien to the driver, who then takes notice.
Mars is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 11:09 AM   #16
Mars
coitus non circum.
 
Mars's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Bikes:
Posts: 2,495
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
John Ridley: one man discotech!!
Mars is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 11:20 AM   #17
alanbikehouston
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Bikes:
Posts: 5,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I live in the inner city where main streets have both lots of vehicles and thousands of flashing and blinking lights from stores, restaurants, bars, advertising signs...the visual distractions for drivers are endless.

In my neighborhood, blinking lights are not enough. A cyclist needs to LOOK like a cyclist, and not like one of a jillion blinking lights. White helmets, yellow jackets with reflective stripes, reflective ankle bands, reflective pedals...all of these thinks MIGHT wake up a driver to realize "hey, there is a PERSON in front of me".

At night, I try to select streets with very few cars, where the flow of traffic is 25 mph or less. If I have only ONE car to avoid, and the driver of that car has only ME to think about, we are probably going to do okay.
alanbikehouston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 12:03 PM   #18
Erick L
Lentement mais sûrement
 
Erick L's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Montréal
Bikes:
Posts: 2,146
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
I have a blinky on my rack to be seen from a distance and be identified as a cyclist and a solid light on my seatpost so drivers can follow me as they get close.
Erick L is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 12:03 PM   #19
genec
genec
 
genec's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: West Coast
Bikes: custom built, sannino, beachbike, giant trance x2
Posts: 24,693
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 298 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Merriwether
If you see something you don't understand while driving, then you need to be sure everything is safe. That means you need to slow down until you understand the situation, among other things.

Blinkies can cause drivers to do this. So, not only does it make sense that blinkies increase safety, by causing drivers to slow down in the presence of bicyclists, it's true, too.

Blinkies cause drivers to give me a wide berth... Ah gee, guess that is the desired response.

I use two different blinkies... a Nite Rider super bright blinkie and a smaller battery power 5 light blinkie. Frankly if a driver has to look twice to figure out what is going on, and further if they are still not sure and then go wide "just in case," then the darn things are working just the way I want.

I hate it when they try to get as close as possible.
genec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 12:35 PM   #20
Paul L.
Senior Member
 
Paul L.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Arizona, USA
Bikes: Mercier Corvus (commuter), Fila Taos (MTB), Trek 660(Got frame for free and put my LeMans Centurian components on it)
Posts: 2,601
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Police around here have strobe type lights on the roof. I find that when I see a blinkie the first thing that comes to mind at a distance is police officer and then I think cyclist. In both cases the blinkie makes me think a little more about what I am approaching and how to deal with it. That being said I use both solid and blinking and reflective clothing.
__________________
Sunrise saturday,
I was biking the backroads,
lost in the moment.
Paul L. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 02:13 PM   #21
randya
Senior Member
 
randya's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: in bed with your mom
Bikes: who cares?
Posts: 13,689
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steele-Bike
I would hope that a single blinkie would not be ones only rear visibilty aid. I prefer large amounts of reflectivity in addition to a couple of blinking blinkies.[/B]
I see lots of people riding with only a blinkie, all reflectors removed from the bike.

I don't use blinkies at all, but I've got a steady rear light powered by dyno, from one to four stationary reflectors (depends on the bike I'm riding), plus reflective tape and pedal reflectors. The pedal reflectors serve the same purpose as the blinkie without requiring batteries.
randya is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 02:19 PM   #22
randya
Senior Member
 
randya's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: in bed with your mom
Bikes: who cares?
Posts: 13,689
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by salmonchild
in england, it is law to have solid front and rear lights and bike mounted reflectors.
i must say that i don't like 'blinkies' especially if the flash rate is low. its really disconcerting to see a red light that appears then fades and re-appears a couple of meters on down the road
Most European countries require steady white front and red rear lights on bikes, and there are standards in place. Not so in the US. You're on your own when it come to lighting. Most bikes are sold only with federally mandated reflectors, which do not meet the requirements for night riding in any state jurisdiction I am aware of.

What if they sold cars without lights and told you that you would have to spend several hundred dollars equipping your car with after market lights before you could drive at night?
randya is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 02:20 PM   #23
SamHouston
Good Afternoon!
 
SamHouston's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Rural Eastern Ontario
Bikes: Various by application
Posts: 2,351
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have a large ceramic clown with a big red LED in it's nose that bobs up and down with the clowns head as I ride. It's attached to my helmet and it's pretty big so the clowns nose is about 2 feet above my head which puts it 7 1/2 feet up while I'm riding. Is that too high to be effective? I had a reindeer during the holidays that had the same nose but about a foot lower. Better?
SamHouston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 02:38 PM   #24
rockmuncher
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Bikes:
Posts: 1,499
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamHouston
I have a large ceramic clown with a big red LED in it's nose that bobs up and down with the clowns head as I ride. It's attached to my helmet and it's pretty big so the clowns nose is about 2 feet above my head which puts it 7 1/2 feet up while I'm riding. Is that too high to be effective? I had a reindeer during the holidays that had the same nose but about a foot lower. Better?
rockmuncher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-05, 03:14 PM   #25
Dchiefransom
Senior Member
 
Dchiefransom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Newark, CA. San Francisco Bay Area
Bikes:
Posts: 6,205
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Something blinking gives a sense of motion. It's much easier for us to pick out motion than to see something stationary. A person standing in front of a building that you are looking at, with clothing similar to the color of the building, but not enough to act as camouflage, is easily noticed if they are walking, but might be missed if they stand motionless. My blinking rear light blinks fairly fast, and is easier to see that if I left it on "solid".
Dchiefransom is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:53 AM.