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  1. #1
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    flashing or steady lights?

    Seeing that flashing lights on bikes are illegal in Europe (right?), I've been running my lights on steady. But maybe the European law(s) are based on lack of research. What do I know?

    What do you think is more effective, and why? I'm starting to think that flashing is better in the day time. I'm sure a steady headlight is better in the night, but I'm not sure about a tail light.

    I'm about to head out into a very foggy day, and it seems to me that a flashing tail light is more likely to keep me alive.
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  2. #2
    Keener splendor TimmyT's Avatar
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    Tom, I go with one of each. A flashing light gets attention, but it's easier for a driver's eye to judge distance on a constant target as you approach.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Good question, Tom.

    I always have my taillight on flash and even turn my headlight into a flasher as soon as dawn begins to light the road but have only my own impressions seeing other cyclists as data. Even those perceptions could be skewed by getting improved battery life on flash.

    (Hope your ride went well. When riding in thick fog I would need an illuminated chicken suit to feel sorta safe.)
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  4. #4
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    I run my headlight on flashing during the day. It's highly visible in urban traffic situations. In the suburbs, where there is a lot of "tree shadow" in the early morning, and late day, it really enhances your visiblilty, especially to motorists coming out of driveways and cross streets. Starting at dusk, it's on steady.

    I use my tail light on flashing mode at all times at night, as it is the best attention-getter.

    Anyone know why blinking lights are illegal in European countries?
    "The People will believe what the Media tells them they believe". George Orwell.

  5. #5
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    My observations when driving and observing bikes are that a flashing white light in front is far more visible, especially in the day time than a solid light. The Red blinkys in the back need to be bright (fresh batteries) to be really seen.

    based on this here is my setup

    Daytime
    on my commuter utility bike: White flashing in front (nothing fancy or high powered), two Red blinky in back (planet bike super flash)
    On my road bike I use red blinky (super flash again) (I don't normally use a white light on the road bike as I ride a bit differently and in different sitiuations on my road bke....but am thinking about putting a mini white blink (knog or the like) on it....

    Night time
    Commuter utiliyt bike: White blinking and a steady light (450 lumen flashlight) and the two red blinkies. I also have a lot of reflective material on the bike
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  6. #6
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Old timer Europeans see a flashing light white or red as an emergency - Kind of like someone who blows a whistle in the woods...

    It takes a little time for adjustments - It appears that Germany is just now getting away from dynamo requirements on bikes over 11 Kg...

  7. #7
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    This thread over in Commuting addresses this issue a bit.

    I go with two lights, front and rear--the more powerful light on either end set to steady, the less powerful one set to blink.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Seeing that flashing lights on bikes are illegal in Europe (right?), I've been running my lights on steady. But maybe the European law(s) are based on lack of research. What do I know?

    What do you think is more effective, and why? I'm starting to think that flashing is better in the day time. I'm sure a steady headlight is better in the night, but I'm not sure about a tail light.

    I'm about to head out into a very foggy day, and it seems to me that a flashing tail light is more likely to keep me alive.
    I use both, during the day I have four Cateye Uno's that are set to blink, at night they're still blinking, but I also have a Light and Motion Stella 150L that I run steady.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member nevermore1701's Avatar
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    i use one steady light and one blinking up front and two blinkies in back

  10. #10
    fueled by chocolate milk Fishmonger's Avatar
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    A blinking headlight makes me dizzy, so I can't use it in the dark, but I think they're much easier to notice.

  11. #11
    Senior Member cderalow's Avatar
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    I use both at night.

    Solid high powered white headlight mounted on fork corwn, blinking mid-power headlight mounted on handlebars
    Solid red tail on seat stay, blinking red tail on seat bag or rack.

    during the day just the blinkers.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fishmonger View Post
    A blinking headlight makes me dizzy, so I can't use it in the dark, but I think they're much easier to notice.
    +1
    I always run head & tail lights on steady. A couple weeks ago while swapping batteries on the road, I accidentally put the head light into flashing mode. I no longer remembered what the button sequence was to get it in/out of that mode, so I had to put up with it all the way home. It drove me nuts.

  13. #13
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    Blinking red in the rear runs day and night. I only run a solid headlight in the front when I need to see.

  14. #14
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    At night I run all steady up front, my big taillight (MagicShine) steady, my smaller one (Cygolite Hotshot) on flash. In the daytime no headlights, Cygolite off, MagicShine on flash.

    Since my commute is in pitch black through farm fields, flashing headlight is not an option, though I suppose I could flash one of them. The rapid flash actually might be usable as a headlight at the same time but I think you'd probably have drivers throwing crowbars at you pretty quickly - it's an intensely irritating thing, to the point where I wonder who thinks it's actually useful.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  15. #15
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    There is (or, at least used to be) an aftermarket add-on for motorcycles to change the steady running in day time low beams to alternating low-high beams. Why? Because (according to my motor cycle instructor 20+ years ago), 25% of all motorcycle accidents are a car making a left turn in front of a motorcycle. And all motorcycles (since last millenium) always have at least their low beams on.

    In the day time, a solid light is not nearly as noticeable as a flashing light. (It's true at night, too but...).

    In the night time, if you are using a light to see, then I agree a flashing light does not work well. If you have multiple front lights, I see no problem with having some flash too. If you only have a single tail light at night, I'd set it to flashing (I agree that it is probably easier to locate a non-flashing light, but it's more important to be noticed in my opinion).

    I point my headlight slightly below horizontal so it is not straight into the eyes of oncoming drivers. And while some of you are worried about annoying drivers, I'm more worried that they don't notice me.

    Cheers,
    Charles

    p.s. Yes, I know that some parts of Europe may not allow flashing lights. I'll worry about that when I get over there for my bike tour...
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  16. #16
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    I have dynamo lights (steady, front and rear) and I've had no problems with people seeing me (knock knock knock)
    I do also have a rear blinkie, but I never use it.
    Last edited by delcrossv; 11-12-12 at 02:51 PM.
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  17. #17
    Dirt junkie. SnowJob's Avatar
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    Here in MN it's technically illegal for any vehicles other than emergency vehicles to have flashing lights; however, lots of bikers still prefer to ride with blinkies. I like to have a blinking front light for dusk riding and switch it over to steady when it gets dark. I have a rear light that has several different blinking modes, so I set that one to a fade in/fade out setting.
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  18. #18
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Seeing that flashing lights on bikes are illegal in Europe (right?), I've been running my lights on steady. But maybe the European law(s) are based on lack of research. What do I know?

    What do you think is more effective, and why? I'm starting to think that flashing is better in the day time. I'm sure a steady headlight is better in the night, but I'm not sure about a tail light.

    I'm about to head out into a very foggy day, and it seems to me that a flashing tail light is more likely to keep me alive.
    I was told the other day, by the police, that I couldn't have my lights flashing. I can understand that with my headlight. But I will ignore it with my taillight, I will make it flash whether the city, county(and state) police like it.

  19. #19
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnowJob View Post
    Here in MN it's technically illegal for any vehicles other than emergency vehicles to have flashing lights; however, lots of bikers still prefer to ride with blinkies. I like to have a blinking front light for dusk riding and switch it over to steady when it gets dark. I have a rear light that has several different blinking modes, so I set that one to a fade in/fade out setting.
    I lived in Duluth(Nov.'02-Jan.07). I set my taillight to blink, regardless of what the local police said. Because, They were only enforcing the orders of the state legislature said.

  20. #20
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I agree that if it makes us safer and it is illegal, we should do it. But we should pay any tickets we get. After paying a ticket or two, I'll switch to steady. But I'm not waiting for that to happen.

    I have a spoke light that flashes alternately blue and red. I think I did inadvertently stop an oncoming car. I can't say for sure. Since it spins on the wheel and is blue and red, the bike might look like a police vehicle.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnowJob View Post
    Here in MN it's technically illegal for any vehicles other than emergency vehicles to have flashing lights; however, lots of bikers still prefer to ride with blinkies. I like to have a blinking front light for dusk riding and switch it over to steady when it gets dark. I have a rear light that has several different blinking modes, so I set that one to a fade in/fade out setting.
    I run steady but in the 2012 session the legislature amended the bicycle rules to make flashing headlights and taillight legal. Can't tell from a quick reading the flashing lights are in addition to or in place of a steady light.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    In South Carolina, we can use a flashing red taillight, but not a flashing light on the front. I use the taillight all the time, as there are many roads that have a canopy of live oak that create a tunnel effect that would cause the photo sensor for the headlights on my Oldsmobile to turn on.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

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  23. #23
    Senior Member Cookiemonsta's Avatar
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    Flashing lights attract more attention and do make you more visible. At the same time, they are kind of annoying and distracting for other people on the roads (or at least, that is how I always feel about them).

    What I usually do is just use the steady light, unless you are in a situation where you want to stand out more. So for example, I'll use a the steady setting for a dedicated bike lane, but the flashing setting whenever I have to share the road with cars that go 50 km/h or more.

  24. #24
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    I agree that if it makes us safer and it is illegal, we should do it. But we should pay any tickets we get. After paying a ticket or two, I'll switch to steady. But I'm not waiting for that to happen.

    I have a spoke light that flashes alternately blue and red. I think I did inadvertently stop an oncoming car. I can't say for sure. Since it spins on the wheel and is blue and red, the bike might look like a police vehicle.
    I am pretty sure police get a lot more excited about flashing blue lights...especially when combined with red, as blue is reserved for LEO. Whether they get excited enought to stop you is another questions.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiemonsta View Post
    Flashing lights attract more attention and do make you more visible. At the same time, they are kind of annoying and distracting for other people on the roads (or at least, that is how I always feel about them).

    What I usually do is just use the steady light, unless you are in a situation where you want to stand out more. So for example, I'll use a the steady setting for a dedicated bike lane, but the flashing setting whenever I have to share the road with cars that go 50 km/h or more.
    I personally don't mind if my flashing lights are annoying...that just means I am being seen, which is huge in terms of safety IMHO
    '82 Nishiski commuter/utility
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    looking for: De Rosa 58cm ELOS frame and fork internal cable routing

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