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Old 10-09-07, 10:00 AM   #1
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Blinking headlights don't seem safe

I was riding in the dark yesterday and another cyclist passes me on the opposing lane with a bright LED headlight blinking on the bar with another light source blinking on the helmet. It was pitch black.

Visibility is one thing but inducing an epileptic seizure to oncoming traffic is another. Why would anyone use the strobe mode in pitch black conditions? This makes it difficult for the rider to see and difficult for oncoming motorists and bikers to pinpoint the location of the oncoming cyclist due to the disorienting nature of stroboscopic lights.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:07 AM   #2
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Depending on conditions, I use a strobing LED and steady halogen beam, or my Blackburn Quadrant, which has the ability to strobe the dimmer LEDs while leaving the bright ones steady.

Dim (to be seen) LEDs in strobe mode aren't too bad. But things like the DiNotte LED headlight in strobe mode, that's just ridiculous most of the time unless there's another steady light source. I agree.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:14 AM   #3
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Doesn't the stobing effect have to be strong and fast? I can't imagine a standard bike light could do it, not including an external battery driven model. Regardless, it's far more likely that you'd get hit than cause a seizure, so play the odds.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:14 AM   #4
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If its pretty dark, with little traffic and sparse street lights, Ill use the always-on mode.
If there are lights everywhere and traffic, Ill set lights to blink. Otherwise my lights may
blend it with the rest and I might not be noticed.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:14 AM   #5
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I've seen a few riders using flashing headlights as their only light source when riding on the pitch black MUP. I can't figure out how they manage to do it. It's gotta look like you're riding in a dance club when the only light you've got is a strobe.
I prefer a much higher frame-rate (steady on) when zipping along at 16 mph in the dark.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:15 AM   #6
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I agree, but in the city you have to have at least one strobing to get a little attention.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:16 AM   #7
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Old 10-09-07, 10:17 AM   #8
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Old 10-09-07, 10:24 AM   #9
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Strobing is for well-lit city streets, and I certainly think it's helpful there. But I really hate it when cyclists refuse to flip into steady mode on dark streets. The strobe can't possibly help them see much of anything in the dark, and it is absolute murder on my eyes.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:28 AM   #10
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With a lower frequency strobe it is quite possible for a driver in a hurry to glace at a cyclist and miss the illuminated phase.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:31 AM   #11
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4.5 flashes per second (270 per minute or 9 flashes every 2 seconds) has the very real capability to entrance, hypnotize or otherwise bamboozle many human beings if it's bright enough. Maybe it's time for me to start messing with my LED headlight some more
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Old 10-09-07, 10:31 AM   #12
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the strobe is a great way to alert any other travelers, (motorists, cyclists, peds) that you are not a motorcycle, or a car with a headlight out, so that they do not make any assumptions in regards to your speed or expected reactions to their actions that they would normally make if they thought you were a motorized vehicle.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:51 AM   #13
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Where I ride isn't anywhere near pitch dark, so I tend to ride in flashing mode unless I need to see the road better. The flashing is much more noticeable, so its gets me the drivers' attention. Its also fun to come up behind a gangsta in a car at a light and the flashing light gives them the heebie jeebies.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:58 AM   #14
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I ride on mostly well-lit streets. I only turn on the full light in the couple of areas that have no street lights. The only things I need to see on the streets are parked cars. Otherwise, my light is a "be seen" light only. I feel quite safe. I am not worried about my light causing an epileptic seizure. I just avoid the Japanese seizure lights.
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Old 10-09-07, 11:00 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ax0n View Post
4.5 flashes per second (270 per minute or 9 flashes every 2 seconds) has the very real capability to entrance, hypnotize or otherwise bamboozle many human beings if it's bright enough. Maybe it's time for me to start messing with my LED headlight some more
Set blinkie to stun, and fire.

BTW, I agree that the DiNotte on strobe after dark is too crazy--even under streetlights. I run a pair and could run one steady and one on strobe. I tried it. For a half-mile or so. Then I switched it to steady.

During the day, I never ride without one on strobe.
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Old 10-09-07, 11:04 AM   #16
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Its also fun to come up behind a gangsta in a car at a light and the flashing light gives them the heebie jeebies.
The ganstas love the flashing lights; we had a couple of them say to us "hey wait, man, where did yo get those lights" instead of what they were really saying "come over here and let me kill you for your lights."

From the Dinotte Manual:

Quote:
Slow pulse Blue power button indicator light is steady.
Light is pulsing at a slow steady pace.

Steady light with strobe Blue indicator flashes once
per second Light is always on an ultra-low power
setting with a high intensity pulse.

Strobe and pause Blue indicator flashes twice per second.
Light is always on an ultra-low power setting with a repeated
pattern of five high intensity strobes followed by a short pause.
Use the Slow Pulse for extremely dark conditions. Airplanes actually use a slow pulsing headlight as the best light for oncoming illumination
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Old 10-09-07, 11:04 AM   #17
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i'm noticing i'm getting a lot more respect in my area with a Planet Bike white LED set to blink. I'm in a small city.
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Old 10-09-07, 11:47 AM   #18
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I agree, but in the city you have to have at least one strobing to get a little attention.
Maybe for the rear because we are trained to see flashing red lights as hazard warnings but a flashing white light (or even amber) doesn't really signify anything. A steady light...and a lot of it... will do more good. We are trained not to pull out in front of things with lots of bright light. A flashing light, unless it's something like what you find on a Police cruiser, could be anything and will likely be ignored as background light.
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Old 10-09-07, 01:18 PM   #19
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Maybe for the rear because we are trained to see flashing red lights as hazard warnings but a flashing white light (or even amber) doesn't really signify anything. A steady light...and a lot of it... will do more good. We are trained not to pull out in front of things with lots of bright light. A flashing light, unless it's something like what you find on a Police cruiser, could be anything and will likely be ignored as background light.
From my limited experience, I dissagree.

When I'm commuting in the semi-urban streets here (Cambridge. MA), a bike headlight set on strobe definitely catches my attention (even a little cheap one). A steady light gets lost in the background of the many, many other car headlights.

That being said, if it's completely dark, leaving it on strobe (if it's a high powered, ala Dinotte) is a bit crazy.

I like my Dinotte on strobe in the early evening/dusk, as it is certainly visible!
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Old 10-09-07, 01:44 PM   #20
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I use an HID light for illumination and blinking frogs on my fork (facing forward) and seat tube (facing to the side) for others to see me.
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Old 10-09-07, 02:42 PM   #21
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I don't have a flashing/blinking front light.. but have been preferring my Superflash on blink instead of steady a lot more recently. If I run two, I'll have one blink and one steady. I always used to run my rear lights always-on in the actual night-dark, but I'm starting to switch that up for inner city riding.
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Old 10-09-07, 03:06 PM   #22
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A blinking red light is OK because the red color spectrum is inherently easier on the eyes (in regards to preserving night vision.)
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Old 10-09-07, 04:49 PM   #23
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I sometimes I have my 600L on strobe while riding down one of the avenues in Manhattan. A steady 600 lumen is nothing comparing to the other light sources. On strobe, however, people tend to turn their heads to see what the hell is going on. I don't leave it on strobe for too long, only when I feel getting squeezed. Thank god for the dual button operation of the 600L.
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Old 10-09-07, 07:37 PM   #24
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Lights on a bike are more for being seen by traffic than to light the road ahead. Unless you weigh your bike down with multiple lights and heavy batteries, most bike lights are horribly ineffective at night for lighting the road enough to see and avoid obstacles. I have a Dinotte headlight and on one of my commutes last winter I arrived home only to find a 1/2" gash in the side of my front tire and the tube bulging out of the slit. I have no idea how it happened, obviously I caught some debris that I never saw.

I'm thinking of adding a small bright white blinky light this winter. I've noticed a few people riding with them and they always stand out to me when I'm driving.

I also use a Planet Bike rear blinky.
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Old 10-09-07, 10:06 PM   #25
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Lights on a bike are more for being seen by traffic than to light the road ahead. Unless you weigh your bike down with multiple lights and heavy batteries, most bike lights are horribly ineffective at night for lighting the road enough to see and avoid obstacles.
When you live in the desert, where light pollution is low and streets may have no lights because there may be large portions with nothing on them whatsoever, even a $20 x mart LED headlight provides enough light to ride by. It's what I've gotta do.
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