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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-31-09, 12:30 PM   #1
HiYoSilver
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Looking for input on right/left cross safety lights and other commuting lights

Assumptions:

1. when it's at least (civil ) twilight, lights help decrease drivers turning right into you or left in front of you

2. a light on the front side of the bike would increase drivers reluctance to run us down

3. most commuters have to commute some time in twilight to darkness

4. most commuters do not use side warning lights

Question for commuters:

1. why is a cheap $10 light on the front fork not a good idea for you?

2. what type of improvements would you like to see in light products:
2.1 headlights
2.2 tailights
2.3 safety lights

Assume you are a smallest company but have the potential of delivering something new.
What would really be useful to regular cycle commuters?

I have a couple of ideas but did not want to poison the pot.


{Aside, not in advocacy subforum as want only practical comments from regular commuters with good commuting experience and no political agenda. Also not in lighting subforum as this is thinking out of the box and not discussion of what is currently available. **
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Old 07-31-09, 03:34 PM   #2
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Are these worthwhile considering?

Headlight
-- battery meter?
-- standard tests in dark with distance markers and obstacles such as glass, rocks, branches
[maybe even a short video]
-- dependability/life cycle information

Taillight
-- adjustable light sensor: turn on, off
-- standard tests
-- secure attachment
-- easy attach/detach
-- easy battery replacement in dim light


Safety light
-- amber lens
-- brighter
-- more long and close to bike mounting than rectangular and sticking way out
-- multi function
-- light sensor on/off option besides manual on/off


More ideas??? Comments on these ideas?




{ Note- NOT trying to start a business more as a idea of getting someone else to produce for us**
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Old 07-31-09, 04:21 PM   #3
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Cheap $10 dollar light on the handlebars/fork just shows where my wheel is pointed and they are generally too dim for some dark areas I go through. I'd have to brake downhill to maintain reaction time based on the short distance they toss light.

The heavier $60 handlebar light I have "drifts" and has to be repointed and sometimes the road buzz shuts it off but it lets me see where I am going, not just provide a modicum of visibility.

The helmet light allows me to shine a light into car driver's eyes or wherever but they aren't so good for general "being seen" since they are narrower beams. They need recharging every 2 hours but are really light (Blackburn Flea).

A "miner's cap" light was cheap, bright, good battery life but probably would go right through my skull into my brain if I crash. And it's a little hot on my forehead.

A small $20 flashlight I velcro to my helmet has great throw, lots of lumens, and uses $10 of funny little lithium batteries in 2 hours (not rechargable). I only turn it on when I have a very short segment of really dark road -- the kind where I can't see the edge of the road which is disorienting to ride on. For that purpose it works great but it's a little pricey as a primary light.

Blinkies - I use one on the bike saddle and another on a pannier. They aren't very good in twilight. I've had a few escape on bumpy roads.

Flea rear blinkie - I put one on my helmet adjustable strap (in the back) and have also used that on one glove. The jury's out.

Amber lights seem like they would be more legal but I haven't seen them.

The worst problem I have with see/be seen is when I have a divided 6-lane suburban intersection to cross. It has a stop sign for all directions. The drivers just don't see me when I am stopped even if I have taken the lane. I've had several near misses where cars still did not see me when I panic-stopped less than a foot from their vehicle (when I had right of way). There are no provisions for pedestrians and it is not safe to cross halfway. I've also seen drivers cut in front of FIRETRUCKS running lights/sirens in this area.
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Old 07-31-09, 04:27 PM   #4
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Wow, that sounds like a bad intersection.

FYI- the $10 light is a safety light to be seen, not to see. it's like a blinkie mounted usually on side of front forks so drivers making right turn into you are staring at a blinking yellow light.

Thanks for the note on the helmet light. I have a handlebar light and was wondering if a helmet light would have been better.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:28 PM   #5
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I've gravitated to front and rear strobes. The brightest I can afford.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:39 PM   #6
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I run my front light in flashing mode when ever I ride except at night. I seem to receive a considerable amount of respect from most drivers. The right hook is something you as a bike rider have to protect yourself from. It is simply a hazard of bike riding
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Old 07-31-09, 06:56 PM   #7
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I'm not really on-topic, sorry. But I'll throw this out for the sake of safety.

I've found that the best setup is two cheap lights front and back. I did it mostly for redundancy, but I've also found that the two lights up front give me a better view if one is aimed just a bit higher than the other.

I experimented with lighting in the past, thinking "the more the better". But it doesn't seem to work that way. Too many lights in too many places just seems to confuse drivers.

So on the rear I merely use one light. Though I'll turn on the second one in blinking mode in poor visibility conditions. (blinking also seems to confuse or partially blind drivers, so I don't do it in clear conditions) I also wear a reflective safety vest. That made a huge difference. Drivers understand exactly what they are seeing from a long way off.

In short, basic lighting with the safety vest seems to be, by far, the best set-up I've found. Cheap and easy, too.
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Old 07-31-09, 09:50 PM   #8
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Good strong LED blinkie, maybe two, on the back; headlight on the bar, and on the helmet, is pretty much a necessity. One or the other results in you being overlooked by myopic drivers (about 85% of the total), and therefore a candidate for gutter salad.

I'm also looking at an LED 'floodlight', basically a bank of LEDs (like 48 of them, spaced close together), to be mounted on the left fork leg -- just as an additional 'be seen' precaution. It's rechargeable, and my commute is in the dark only about 4 months out of the year. THOSE months, I'm not out joyriding.
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Old 08-01-09, 05:47 AM   #9
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LED floodlight? never heard of that, do you have a link to an example?
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Old 08-01-09, 11:27 AM   #10
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One of the common hazards with front lights is that they shine into your eyes. I have always had to "hood" my lights to some degree.

The reflective vest is of zero help for the OP's question. Reflectors cannot make you more visible to crossing traffic until their lights shine on the reflector. By then, it is too late.

OP, are you suggesting, in addition to one's "illuminate the road" lights, that someone could benefit from lights pointed at a shallow angle off to the side?
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Old 08-01-09, 06:44 PM   #11
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Lights? oh well yes of course.
my setup:
Helmet light dinotte 200L
Front head light dinotte 400L
Rear Rack blinkie cheap
Seat bag blinkie cheap
reflective vest with NiteEyes blinkie cheap
Reflectors on wheels and front handlebar cheap

yes I have lights. I want everyone to steer clear of me, PERIOD. Take no prisoners. I don't care how much they cost so don't bother mentioning it. my safety comes first. I won't stop bike commuting though. my ride time is always dark in the morning at 5:30 am. and evening in the winter.

yes I think side lights would be worth while. like boats on water or airplane lights red/green port/starboard lights. though that would probably confuse land lubbers. but it works with boats and planes. folks would get used to it if they became standard.

I have seen wheel lights that display messages and/or flash. I want some for my commuter bike but can't afford it yet. As I said I don't want anyone to mistake me for road kill out there.

like potato chips... you can't ever have just one.
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Old 08-03-09, 12:38 PM   #12
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Lights? oh well yes of course.

yes I think side lights would be worth while. like boats on water or airplane lights red/green port/starboard lights. though that would probably confuse land lubbers. but it works with boats and planes. folks would get used to it if they became standard.
Well this is the most inventive response I have seen. I don't know if it's necessary as bikes are moving slowly. I lean towards simple yellow/amber on the sides much as cars and trucks have because it's less confusing and yellow will penetrate further than red or green. However I am open to considering your argument.
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Old 08-03-09, 12:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post


OP, are you suggesting, in addition to one's "illuminate the road" lights, that someone could benefit from lights pointed at a shallow angle off to the side?
Yes, I have a light in the middle of the front fork aimed up towards drivers eyes and pointing 1/2 way between straight ahead and directly to the side. I had two amber, but lost one so now have one amber and one red. {At the time I couldn't find any amber replacements.**

I have found using the side lights helps stop drivers from turning into you. When I look at their
eyes, it's "opps, I'm embarrassed, I'd didn't see you". Something about driving directly into a blinking
light causes most people to pause.

What I couldn't figure out is, since these lights as so cheap and help stop drivers from cutting you off
in intersections, why aren't more riders using them? Thus this post and also wanted to know if you were desiging a light from scratch, what would you do. A well known light manufacturer asked me to participate in a survey so I started wondering, well if I just drew up the specs. What would I like to see in lights that is not currently available.

Some lights that are available as side safety lights:

http://www.rei.com/product/731473 $10
http://www.rei.com/product/785894 $6, but no bike mount
http://www.teamestrogen.com/prodFS_360PRO.html $14, very unique, looks like also has passive reflector
http://www.rei.com/product/745547 $10
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Old 08-03-09, 02:58 PM   #14
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One of those lights you linked to one was yellow, the rest were red.

I like the idea of yellow/amber blinkies that would attach to the fork, down low, that could be angled 20 or 30 degrees to the side. Even a fork/stay attachment to which all sorts of lights could be attached to might find a market! The stuff on the shelf all seem to be designed to be attached to clothing, handlebars or seat-posts.

(I don't see any value in more tail lights beyond PBSF, as most of the cyclist's hazards are going to be from the front, and those from turning movements.)
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Old 08-03-09, 04:30 PM   #15
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Put SOLAS tape on the tubes (google it) and add front and rear strobes.
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Old 08-03-09, 05:12 PM   #16
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Put SOLAS tape on the tubes (google it) and add front and rear strobes.
Reflectors and tape has very limited utility for cyclists, because they only work when light falls on them, and the motorist is in about a 20 degree angle behind the lights. For a more detailed explanation from Sheldon Brown's site, see HERE.
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Old 08-03-09, 06:34 PM   #17
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LED floodlight? never heard of that, do you have a link to an example?
I work @ WallyWorld (Wal-Mart), and the hardware dept. has them -- can't post a link from the .com, they don't have it online. It's about 30 bux. 10-12" long, 1" diameter, a spot LED on top, a bank of LEDs on the side. Think it's a Stanley.
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Old 08-03-09, 06:58 PM   #18
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Tape doesn't work. My bike is taped all over the place. No reaction from motorists. It was only after adding the front side light that they stopped 20 feet away instead of 2 feet.

I see what you mean about wal mart.
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Old 08-03-09, 07:03 PM   #19
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I couldn't put tape on my bike, that would be just wrong
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Old 08-04-09, 08:54 AM   #20
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For side visibility: Down Low Glow, reflective sidewall tires (Scwalbe Marathon Plus)
For the rear: PBSF, 2 generic 5-led blinkies,reflective tape on rear facing frame members.
For the front:three mag lights (3 watts ea.) a Blackburn quad light (unknown wattage) 3 watt led helmet mounted light.
I also run a lighted reflective vest.
I have received many comments about how noticeable I am on the road at night
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Old 08-04-09, 09:27 AM   #21
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For side visibility

$14.00 for a pair.
http://www.niteize.com/productdetail...product_id=163
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Old 08-04-09, 12:20 PM   #22
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I agree that reflective sidewalls are a requirement for commuting when you have to ride in the dark sometimes. But, passive is not enough. Something active on the side is needed. I would love to have a nice amber, unbulky light that had a light sensor, so I could turn it on during the start of the ride and as its moves darker, see the light come on without stopping to turn on the light.
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Old 08-04-09, 06:22 PM   #23
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front lights:

I'd like a bright headlight on my handlebars that's AS BRIGHT AS a car headlight, but NOT the usual flashlight beam pattern (circular). I'd like a headlight with a faceted lens cover just like car headlights have, to avoid other drivers from being blinded while still lighting up the road and letting me see where I am going. Either a faceted lens, or a partial cover over the lens to prevent the upwards-pointing portion of the beam going into every oncoming driver's face.

I would supplement this with my current helmet light, a small but super bright p7 flashlight that I can run in steady or strobe as an attention-getter and/or flash in drivers eyes as they are about to run into me. I want to use in-your-face glare selectively.

Side lights
I'd like to see some amber running lights that attach to the fork or seatstays, could be as big as a PlanetBike Superflash and run as long on AAA batts. An amber light would need to be a steady light, not a flasher, since side amber flashing lights = turn signals. You would not want green light (colorblind-unfriendly, looks same as red light). You would not want red light since red translates to "rear" or "moving away from the viewer".

taillights
I am happy with the status quo, two planetbike superflashes.
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