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Old 07-24-14, 12:22 PM   #51
spare_wheel
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Originally Posted by pavemen View Post
What is the drawback of having the lights?
I don't think there are any big drawbacks but there are certainly some modest potential drawbacks:

They are an expense for some people.
Legal requirements for lighting reinforce the idea that cycling is dangerous.
They may enable motorists to drive in a riskier manner when there is vulnerable traffin on the road.
They encourage victim blaming (e.g. were they wearing a helmet and did they have lights).
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Old 07-24-14, 12:27 PM   #52
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You may want to look at your own tripe before you criticize mine. Motorist don't "run down cyclist because they are entitled"...at least not in the vast majority of cases. There may be a psychopath or two out there that would intentionally run down a bicyclist but normal people that are involved in an accident involving a bicyclist do so accidentally. If nothing else, they are trying to avoid the paper work involved. Having been on both sides of that equation, I can tell you that avoiding the paper work is perhaps the best reason to not "run down a cyclist".

As for the cars confusing me with other cars, I've heard response from drivers (and pedestrians) as I go by them along the lines of "Holy crap! That's a bike?!" I've heard that response more than once.
Is this an English Composition and Grammar forum or a Commuting Forum? I said entitled. Did I say, homicidal? Hostile? What is your argument? And, no, in the scant micro-seconds a motorist has to react to a developing situation the last thing on their mind is the #$%# paperwork involved in an accident. Most people, as you said, are not homicidal, period. That is why they make every attempt to stop their vehicle before hitting whatever is in front of it. However, it is a fact, that, regardless of how much paperwork is involved after a crash, the driver, in America, is very likely to suffer no loss or restriction of driving privileges. Elsewhere, not so much. Its pure Darwin. In places where one accident ends your driving privileges for years, maybe forever, the careless are weeded out of the general driving public. In America, not so much. Makes it highly likely that the driver hurtling towards you has done this kind of thing before. They couldn't stop in time the last time it happened either.... THUD. Is it sunspots or something? Both you and hamilton go off the rails in the same week? What's going on around here? Or have I just mistakenly assumed that you were generally well informed and rational. Hmmmmm.
I suppose I am on notice.

H
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Old 07-24-14, 01:18 PM   #53
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Tell that to the one dead kid and the one critically injured kid that were hit at 9pm under a dim street light crossing against the red.
One or two counter examples doesn't prove anything.

Travelling by commercial airliner is a safe activity? Tell that to the occupants of MH17 and MH370 ...
Cycling is a safe activity? Tell that to the kid who crashed into a tree and died ...
Playing on a playground is a safe activity? Tell that to the kid who got his neck stuck in the jungle gym and asphyxiated ...
Taking a nap is a safe activity? Tell that to the kid who was killed by a part that fell off a plane ...

No matter what the activity is, you'll probably find somebody who was killed doing it. That doesn't automatically mean that the activity is unsafe, though in the case of biking without lights we can certainly find more than two people we think were victims of it, so I'm kind of surprised that you went with that approach.

The common wisdom is certainly that lights improve safety, but just because you can find somebody who died doesn't mean that lights are required.

I do have to point this out ... "Only a small number of nighttime accidents can be clearly attributed to the lack of lights" -- that's a pretty high burden of proof there. For example, we don't require that level of proof before we attribute a death to DWI -- was the driver drunk? Yes? Recorded as a DWI-related fataility, even if the driver was barely drunk and the deceased ran out from between two parked cars on a 55 mph highway in the middle of the night ...

Personally, I'm going to keep running lots of lights and keep suggesting that others do so too. But I'm also aware that the vast majority of cyclists who ride without lights and even reflectors get home at night without incident too, and I find it interesting that somebody has chosen to study this. And I hope that this study isn't used by people to justify not having lights and reflectors on their bikes, at least not until things are a lot more certain.

Last edited by dougmc; 07-24-14 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 07-24-14, 01:22 PM   #54
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I find myself thinking people actually argue about this? What's next? Is water really wet?

Re: the cost.
Seriously. You can get passable lighting for your bike for $10 at Wal Mart. It might not be light & impress the snobs, but they work. Heck, when I unintentionally broke mine once, I resorted to using a little LED flashlight and rubberbands. Skip the super-sizing and buy yourself some friggin' lights.

Re: the studies at the beginning.
Any statistics are only as good as the data sets they're based upon.

The only way to truly ascertain the effectiveness of lighting on safety would be to study collisions per mile ridden at dusk/dawn and in the dark comparing with & without lighting. I don't read German, so I didn't read the German link. The podcast was turned off when the song started, and the other link was based on nonsense data that didn't prove anything. The differences they noted could've been caused by changes weather or other influences on how many miles the cyclists were riding.


If people are actually concerned about safety, they'll do whatever they can to make riding safer. Most of the arguments against lights & reflectors, in my humble little opinion, are thinly veiled explanations for why certain individuals decide to do something they know is stupid, but want to try to justify it.

Bikes with lights, reflectors, "dork discs" etc aren't as cool, so here's my convoluted faux rationalization why riding without them is actually the logical thing to do.

Uh-huh. Riiiiight. And my buddy opted for a Dodge Ram 4x4 quad cab with a hemi for "the big back seat for the kids."



I don't ride as often at night as I used to, but when I did, I had two tail lights! One was steady, the other flashed. The flashing one hung from my center jersey pocket or I could clip it on my helmet. I had a nice bright light on the front, but I usually left if flashing unless I actually needed it to see where I was going (rare.)

On top of that, I actually have the reflectors still on my wheels! ACK! The horror! I also put 3M reflective tape on my top bar, stays & fork. It helps that my bike is white, so most people don't even realize it's there until it lights up like a Christmas Tree in the dark when lights hit it.

Call me a weirdo. I am actually more concerned with safety than "looking cool."
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Old 07-24-14, 01:41 PM   #55
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One or two counter examples doesn't prove anything.

<snip>

No matter what the activity is, you'll probably find somebody who was killed doing it. That doesn't automatically mean that the activity is unsafe, though in the case of biking without lights we can certainly find more than two people we think were victims of it, so I'm kind of surprised that you went with that approach.

The common wisdom is certainly that lights improve safety, but just because you can find somebody who died doesn't mean that lights are required.

I do have to point this out ... "Only a small number of nighttime accidents can be clearly attributed to the lack of lights" -- that's a pretty high burden of proof there. For example, we don't require that level of proof before we attribute a death to DWI -- was the driver drunk? Yes? Recorded as a DWI-related fataility, even if the driver was barely drunk and the deceased ran out from between two parked cars on a 55 mph highway in the middle of the night ...

Personally, I'm going to keep running lots of lights and keep suggesting that others do so too. But I'm also aware that the vast majority of cyclists who ride without lights and even reflectors get home at night without incident too, and I find it interesting that somebody has chosen to study this. And I hope that this study isn't used by people to justify not having lights and reflectors on their bikes, at least not until things are a lot more certain.
I have not once said lights should not be used. I only questioned them being required. I run four lights and wear a reflective jersey when I ride at night.

I never said cycling did not have inherent dangers or that lights are the end all be all of safety equipment. My comment about the kids that dies the other day not having lights was to imply that had they had lights, perhaps the driver would have seen them as the kids crossed on red in a dimly lit intersection and been able to avoid crashing into them.

I am worried that the data set used is limited and only very general statistics can be drawn from them, if any valid ones at all. I too hope no one draws the wrong conclusions from the studies as well.

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I find myself thinking people actually argue about this? What's next? Is water really wet?

Re: the cost.
Seriously. You can get passable lighting for your bike for $10 at Wal Mart. It might not be light & impress the snobs, but they work. Heck, when I unintentionally broke mine once, I resorted to using a little LED flashlight and rubberbands. Skip the super-sizing and buy yourself some friggin' lights.

Re: the studies at the beginning.
Any statistics are only as good as the data sets they're based upon.

The only way to truly ascertain the effectiveness of lighting on safety would be to study collisions per mile ridden at dusk/dawn and in the dark comparing with & without lighting. I don't read German, so I didn't read the German link. The podcast was turned off when the song started, and the other link was based on nonsense data that didn't prove anything. The differences they noted could've been caused by changes weather or other influences on how many miles the cyclists were riding.


If people are actually concerned about safety, they'll do whatever they can to make riding safer. Most of the arguments against lights & reflectors, in my humble little opinion, are thinly veiled explanations for why certain individuals decide to do something they know is stupid, but want to try to justify it.

Bikes with lights, reflectors, "dork discs" etc aren't as cool, so here's my convoluted faux rationalization why riding without them is actually the logical thing to do.

Uh-huh. Riiiiight. And my buddy opted for a Dodge Ram 4x4 quad cab with a hemi for "the big back seat for the kids."



I don't ride as often at night as I used to, but when I did, I had two tail lights! One was steady, the other flashed. The flashing one hung from my center jersey pocket or I could clip it on my helmet. I had a nice bright light on the front, but I usually left if flashing unless I actually needed it to see where I was going (rare.)

On top of that, I actually have the reflectors still on my wheels! ACK! The horror! I also put 3M reflective tape on my top bar, stays & fork. It helps that my bike is white, so most people don't even realize it's there until it lights up like a Christmas Tree in the dark when lights hit it.

Call me a weirdo. I am actually more concerned with safety than "looking cool."
+1 to all of this
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Old 07-24-14, 02:26 PM   #56
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The problem with not requiring lights at night is that you'd be at fault for hitting an unlit rider who is otherwise obeying the law. Even if the lighting conditions were such that you had no chance to see the rider.

Note that I didn't mention driver, either. You'd be at fault even if you were a cyclist.

Legally requiring lights at night is effectively making someone who rides in the dark without them responsible for their own safety.

And don't presume that just because you're in an "urban area" all areas are equally visible. If you're in a brightly-lit area, especially if you're looking into the area towards the light, anything outside that well-lit area can be very difficult to see. One of the absolute worst offenders are the newer LED-based green traffic lights - those things can be so bright that seeing anything unlit past the intersection is impossible.
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Old 07-24-14, 02:34 PM   #57
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If people are actually concerned about safety, they'll do whatever they can to make riding safer. Most of the arguments against lights & reflectors, in my humble little opinion, are thinly veiled explanations for why certain individuals decide to do something they know is stupid, but want to try to justify it.
So I assume you wear a full face kevlar helmet and kevlar cycling clothing while riding. Right???

Quote:
Any statistics are only as good as the data sets they're based upon.
OK forget the statistics and consider that over 40% of cyclists in some european cities ride at night without lights. Then consider that the rate of cycling collisions resulting in death is miniscule in these cities.
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Old 07-24-14, 02:40 PM   #58
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Legally requiring lights at night is effectively making someone who rides in the dark without them responsible for their own safety.
It also provides an effective legal excuse for hitting a cyclist due to inattention while driving.
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Old 07-24-14, 02:51 PM   #59
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SOK forget the statistics and consider that over 40% of cyclists in some european cities ride at night without lights. Then consider that the rate of cycling collisions resulting in death is miniscule in these cities.

Those are still statistics.

Again, Europe has an infrastructure for cycling. With the infrastructure comes a longer history of cycling familiarity.

I feel comparing Europe cycling to US cycling is apples to grapes.
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Old 07-24-14, 02:56 PM   #60
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It also provides an effective legal excuse for hitting a cyclist due to inattention while driving.
For better or worse, this is one reason I'd continue to run lights / reflectors / vest / h-word even if I privately believed there was no objective benefit. It's not something I worry about much, but I don't want to give a lawyer grounds to short-change my family's settlement if some careless jackass were to mow me down.
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Old 07-24-14, 03:17 PM   #61
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Again, Europe has an infrastructure for cycling. With the infrastructure comes a longer history of cycling familiarity.
So...you are willing to concede that under some conditions bicycle lighting does not add much to safety. This suggests then that it is not always so obvious/self-evident/common-sensical that lighting increases safety. That's kind of my original point!

While I concede that lighting often makes sense I still think it's an open question whether inner city Ninjas are really risking their lives (and, if so, whether the risk trivial).
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Old 07-24-14, 03:19 PM   #62
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spare_wheel, there is similarly not enough clear data to show that helmet use improves a cyclist's chances of avoiding injury or death, or so some people say. A helmet saved my life once, and I'm glad I was wearing it, and I continue to wear a helmet (though not the same one that saved my life). I am one person and not statistically significant, so my story proves nothing.

When I ride in traffic at night with strong lights, I am sure that other road users behave more respectfully towards me. This is a single anecdote and not statistically significant, but it's enough for me to continue to use lights.

I've also noticed that be-seen lights do not get sufficient respect from motorists. To me, they send the message, "Please don't hurt me, please don't hurt me," in a tiny mousy voice. On the other hand, to-see lights seem to send the message, "Hey you! I'm here! You got that? Good." spoken in a loud, authoritative voice.

800 Lumens flashing seems to get all the driver's attention in my area. I'll even get some flashing their high beams at me like I can turn down my lamp. When I ride dirt trails or in unlit areas, the beam is on and steady.

I don't know about seizures happening, or at what frequency it could happen, but I can't image why someone would need a light that flashes that fast.
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Old 07-24-14, 03:40 PM   #63
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So...you are willing to concede that under some conditions bicycle lighting does not add much to safety.
I am making the point that drivers in Europe are more accustomed to seeing cyclists. So I guess I am conceding the point: that in major European cities with a long history of cycling appropriate infrastructure and more driver awareness it is plausible to not use a light.

I still think that in general car centered N.America one is a fool for not using lights in the evening/night. I also feel that lights during the day increase awareness for individuals who might not otherwise be alert to bicycles.

Like @Earl Grey mentions, safety devices are a great cover your a*s blanket. No driver can get away saying they did not see me with my day-glow green shirt, high-vis vest and front and rear lights.

Last edited by joeyduck; 07-24-14 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 07-24-14, 03:46 PM   #64
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Theory, theory, theory.

In the rainy dark Pacific Northwest winters, I commute with a 500 lumen light on my bars and another on my helmet. When a car on a side street starts to pull out, I guarantee you that a 500 lumen stinkeye from me stops them in their tracks, period.
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Old 07-24-14, 03:53 PM   #65
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Common complaint in the UK - "Cyclists are always riding at night without lights, can't be seen and are stupidly risking their lives!".

Q. How do you know?
A. I see them all the time!
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Old 07-24-14, 04:05 PM   #66
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I'm not a fan of anecdotes, but there've been enough times when I've been driving that I've nearly hit a bicycle rider who wasn't using lights that I try to always use them and recommend that others do.

FWIW I can't stand super bright lights that aren't aimed correctly and dislike all blinky lights, both of which I think are dangerous. I'm a huge fan of reflective sidewall tires, yellow pedal reflectors, front white, and red rear reflectors. I no longer bother with a helmet as the research I've done tells me that they're not effective. I also don't wear any special clothing, reflective or otherwise.
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Old 07-24-14, 05:09 PM   #67
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Common complaint in the UK - "Cyclists are always riding at night without lights, can't be seen and are stupidly risking their lives!".
Q. How do you know?
A. I see them all the time!

Invisible bike ninjas are so annoyingly visible!


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Old 07-24-14, 05:13 PM   #68
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I guarantee you that a 500 lumen stinkeye from me stops them in their tracks, period.
Although many of us are guilty of using our light beams of +5 smugness to smite evil cagers, I'm not sure this makes us safer.
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Old 07-24-14, 05:17 PM   #69
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spare_wheel, there is similarly not enough clear data to show that helmet use improves a cyclist's chances of avoiding injury or death, or so some people say. A helmet saved my life once, and I'm glad I was wearing it, and I continue to wear a helmet (though not the same one that saved my life). I am one person and not statistically significant, so my story proves nothing.

When I ride in traffic at night with strong lights, I am sure that other road users behave more respectfully towards me. This is a single anecdote and not statistically significant, but it's enough for me to continue to use lights.

I've also noticed that be-seen lights do not get sufficient respect from motorists. To me, they send the message, "Please don't hurt me, please don't hurt me," in a tiny mousy voice. On the other hand, to-see lights seem to send the message, "Hey you! I'm here! You got that? Good." spoken in a loud, authoritative voice.
I've found little difference in driver behaviour in urban areas, between a blinking light intended to make me visible and a bright light intended to see the road ahead. In my local urban areas you don't need extra lights to see where you're going - any benefit from lights is purely about being seen rather than being able to see.


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After scanning the SWOV paper, I was struck by this

It also appears from the article that the collection of data about light usage by cyclists involved in bicycle accidents during dark hours is missing. Law enforcement just may not include the use of lights in their reports so the data is missing. Without data, the problem can't be studied and if the problem has never been studied, there are few conclusions you can draw.

I also put the lack of study of lights no bicycles into the "well, duh!" category of science. It's a trivial hypothesis that doesn't really deserve much study. Lights on a bicycle at night have the dual purpose of being able to see where you are going and being seen by other road users. The latter is probably of less importance than the former but if your lights are bright enough to see the road, they are bright enough for other road users to see them. On the other hand, if your lights aren't bright enough to see the road by, they are probably ineffective as a signal to other road users in urban environments.

I don't think that I'm going to volunteer as part of a blind test to see if using lights is a good idea or not. As I said above, it's most a "well, duh!" conclusion.
Agreed it's a bit of a "duh" conclusion, although as to the primary purpose I think it would depend on the nature of the road. In my area you don't need lights to see on most roads, so the effect of making yourself more visible takes a higher priority. Go off the lit roads and it's surprising just how ineffective the cheap blinkie lights are at lighting the path ahead.

One thing I noticed when I swapped my cheap blinkie for two Hope Vision One lights was that I got a lot more acknowledgements from other cyclists. And I could see where I was going on totally unlit roads
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Old 07-24-14, 06:44 PM   #70
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Come to Asia and then complain - here in Singapore the number of cyclists riding without lights at night is at least 50%, arguably the majority being foreign workers with dark skin and more-often-than-not dark clothing.

I'm sure the statistics for many our neighbors are MUCH worse.
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Old 07-24-14, 08:04 PM   #71
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"Legally requiring lights at night is effectively making someone who rides in the dark without them responsible for their own safety."

It also provides an effective legal excuse for hitting a cyclist due to inattention while driving.
Do you think without a legal requirement for lights on bicycles that motorists who hit unlit cyclists at night without committing other traffic violations would be effectively prosecuted? I don't see much evidence of that in the case of pedestrians who are struck by motorists except when there are other violations such as running a light, stop sign, DUI, etc. When it's a case of a pedestrian who is hit in the street at night, even at a legal crosswalk, the defense that "I didn't see him/her" appears to be accepted in most cases where there aren't other aggravating actions by the motorist.
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Old 07-24-14, 09:15 PM   #72
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Although many of us are guilty of using our light beams of +5 smugness to smite evil cagers, I'm not sure this makes us safer.
Back when I got my first helmet light in the late '80s, my commute involved bombing down the one-way streets in Sacramento. (The traffic signals were set for somewhere north of 30 mph and I hated to miss a signal.) Since there were parked cars on both sides of the street, the sight line of the cars at the cross street stop signs was quite limited. More than once I stopped them in their tracks with a well aimed photon torpedo. They couldn't see the bike and probably didn't see me, but they certainly knew there was something there that was closing fast.

I may be wrong, but it seemed to me that my light made me safer. It allowed me to ride fast enough to not be overtaken while still preventing cross traffic from pulling out into me. However, a few miles past downtown when I reached broad streets with few intersections and no on street parking, the light probably didn't do a thing for my safety.
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Old 07-24-14, 09:32 PM   #73
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So I assume you wear a full face kevlar helmet and kevlar cycling clothing while riding. Right???



OK forget the statistics and consider that over 40% of cyclists in some european cities ride at night without lights. Then consider that the rate of cycling collisions resulting in death is miniscule in these cities.
Your comments are so dumb, they make my head hurt. Next time I see your name on a post, I'm going to put my helmet on.
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Old 07-24-14, 10:34 PM   #74
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Your comments are so dumb, they make my head hurt. Next time I see your name on a post, I'm going to put my helmet on.
Please provide evidence that a helment will protect you from the urge to disagree with someone on the internet.
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Old 07-24-14, 10:39 PM   #75
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They couldn't see the bike and probably didn't see me, but they certainly knew there was something there that was closing fast.
Now that's my kind of bike fun.

PS: I'm surprised that playing bike light devils advocate has not generate more push back (apart from one troll and a bit of sniping).
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