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  1. #1
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    Do lights negate the need for reflectors?

    I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I can't find it...

    This is my first winter season commuting. I've got lights to be seen, but now am adding lights to see. I'd like to take off the front reflector to make room for one more mount. Is that still legal? I know front a rear reflectors are compulsory, but does one or more actual lights make you compliant without a plastic reflector?

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Taillights and headlights that are well designed offer reflectors
    in addition to the active lights.
    German sourced lights an example of that .. Busch and Muller, and Schmidt.

    I got a Cat Eye rear light that replaces a rear reflector
    and combines the reflector with in its lens
    on either side of the 3 LEDs
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-15-10 at 01:16 PM.

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    Every tailight I have seen also incorporates a reflector.

    Paul

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    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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    Depends on the state. Here in IL you wouldn't be in violation, but I can't imagine anybody handing out a ticket if you have lights but not the reflector. In general, reflectors are a great thing, and I have reflectors on my bike in addition to lights.
    Last edited by JPprivate; 11-15-10 at 03:47 PM.

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    Senior Member Maxxxie's Avatar
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    I also don't have a front reflector. The bike didn't come with one (although a front reflector is a legal requirement). I have two lights at the front. One blinkie that's always on, and one set of Ayup lights that are on the moment it starts to get a little dark. At the back, I have two Radbot 1000s. One's on "burn your retinas" blinking mode, and the other's steady. They have a reflector built in, so I'm technically compliant with the law there. The lack of reflector on the front doesn't bother me. If a driver/other road or path user doesn't see me with the blinkie and the blazing front light, they're not going to see a reflector.

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    I keep a rear reflector in case my tail light goes out on the way to work and I dont notice it. I have reflector material on my bag and jacket. I just have not thought about the front reflector. I would probably stop if my headlight went out. I did not know the rear light was also a reflector. I learn a lot around here.
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  7. #7
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
    Every tailight I have seen also incorporates a reflector.

    Paul
    Not the Planet Bike Super Flash, which is perhaps the most popular tail light right now. Lots of others also do not have reflectors.

    You need to check the laws state by state (and even locally), but honestly, I think you should have as much reflective stuff as possible so drivers have a good idea that they are actually coming upon a cyclist (as opposed to, say, a construction barrier).
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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
    Every tailight I have seen also incorporates a reflector.

    Paul
    Most of the blinkie-type taillights do not function as a reflector. Cateye LD500, LD560/570, Serfas TL-SSR and Planet Bike BRT5 are several that do.

    Big picture: reflective stuff can be a useful supplement to lights in circumstances where reflective stuff does show up. If you want front reflectivity, how about a stripe of reflective tape down each fork blade? This stuff's good: http://www.night-gear.com/reflective...-reflexite-539


  9. #9
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    I have lights and reflectors, well above the legally required amount of both.
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  10. #10
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    NY states that i need a light on front, but nothing on reflectors.

    Section 1236. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. (a) Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible during hours of darkness from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red light visible to the rear for three hundred feet. Effective July first, nineteen hundred seventy-six, at least one of these lights shall be visible for two hundred feet from each side.
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  11. #11
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    Local laws vary. Anchorage requires a headlight and a rear reflector after dark, so up here you don't need a front reflector. Honestly, though, if you've got lights and they're working, it's unlikely that anyone will hassle you. Reflectors in addition to lights is a decent failsafe, in case your light breaks or its batteries go dead.

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
    Every tailight I have seen also incorporates a reflector.

    Paul
    Neither of my taillights reflect anything other than their own beam. I don't think that the dish reflector that a light uses to direct its beam is what the OP is referring to.

  12. #12
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    Find out the law for your state and make sure you are in compliance. Sure you probably will never get a ticket, but if you are involved in a collision with a car a shrewd lawyer could try to pin fault on you saying you didn't have the required reflector(s).

    Illinois requires a rear reflector but not a front.
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    Rear reflectors are useful and some reflectors are brighter than many lights when in car headlights. I like to use the 3" reflectors you get in auto parts stores (NAPA LIT 57 for example) and often mount the rear light directly to the reflector which makes mounting easier. Front reflectors are no substitute for a front light since cars will not see you coming from cross streets at intersections because their lights are not aiming at the reflector. So front reflectors are sort of worthless except if you are a salmon but most of them are ninja's anyway.

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    no they don't. it's time to load up on reflectivity (head to toe and all over the bike) and lighting! :-) have fun! you can can't do too much and yes, it is an addiction!
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    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    I've had at least four different rear blinky lights fail on me for a variety of reasons, such as faulty electrical connections, batteries shifting (or even falling out), moisture, and the plastic mounting brackets snapping clean off when I hit a bump. I strongly recommend having at least one good backup to your rear lamp, such as a large reflector or a second lamp on an independent power source. When your rear lamps fails, you may not know it until the end of your ride.

    I keep a small spare LED front lamp in my bag in case my main headlamp fails. A front reflector won't be as bright as even the weakest headlamp. When my front lamp fails, I usually know right away. I've recently switched to a CygoLite Expilion 250 with an internal battery that I expect to be more reliable than my 9-year-old 6V wired NiteRider headlamp setup.

  16. #16
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    There's "legal" and then there's "sensible."

    Many blinkie-type lights do not have reflective capabilities. Some of the CatEye and PDW lights do, but many do not. Even if your local laws don't require a reflector, it's a good idea to have (at least) one as backup should your light fail, etc.

    When equipping your commuter with lights, etc, you want to avoid a single point of failure. My rig has three rear lights--two of which have integrated reflectors.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member SactoDoug's Avatar
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    As said in earlier posts: each state has a different law. In California a front light and rear reflector or light is required. I happen to have a reflector and light on my bike. It doesn't hurt anything to keep the reflector on the bike.

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    the front is what I'm primarily interested in what the actual law is (Colorado). I have a fairly large reflector on the back of my rear rack, in addition to a superflash that I either clip to my saddle bag or the trunk bag if I use one that day. so the back is good to go...

    On the front, I have a Blaze for being seen. Just today, I dropped the cash on a NightRider 250. Now my bars are getting too cluttered. I've got a bell and a reflector that I can sacrafice for more room. The reflector seems to be the obvious choice to get rid of since I'll now have two lights. However, I want to stay legal. I could sacrafice the bell I suppose, but it gets used a lot. Perhaps I need to accept the fact that winter riding means a cluttered bike....?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin J View Post
    the front is what I'm primarily interested in what the actual law is (Colorado). I have a fairly large reflector on the back of my rear rack, in addition to a superflash that I either clip to my saddle bag or the trunk bag if I use one that day. so the back is good to go...

    On the front, I have a Blaze for being seen. Just today, I dropped the cash on a NightRider 250. Now my bars are getting too cluttered. I've got a bell and a reflector that I can sacrafice for more room. The reflector seems to be the obvious choice to get rid of since I'll now have two lights. However, I want to stay legal. I could sacrafice the bell I suppose, but it gets used a lot. Perhaps I need to accept the fact that winter riding means a cluttered bike....?
    In Colorado, front light, rear reflector and side reflectors (I use reflective tires):

    42-4-221. Bicycle and personal mobility device equipment.

    (2) Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front.

    (3) Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the department, which shall be visible for six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

    (4) Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD when in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least five hundred feet.

    (5) A bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by subsections (2) to (4) of this section.
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  20. #20
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Taillights and headlights that are well designed offer reflectors
    in addition to the active lights.
    German sourced lights an example of that .. Busch and Muller, and Schmidt.

    I got a Cat Eye rear light that replaces a rear reflector
    and combines the reflector with in its lens
    on either side of the 3 LEDs
    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
    Every tailight I have seen also incorporates a reflector.

    Paul
    I'd say few tail lights incorporate a CSPC reflector. Only a few do. German ones do. The new Cateye Reflex does. The Radbot does. The Planet Bike Super Flash (one of the more popular lights around) doesn't nor does the Blackburn Mars. I'd say that most don't.

    Check your local laws. As Mikeybikes points out for Colorado, you have to have a red rear reflector. It's also a good idea since you don't want a slick lawyer blaming you for an accident because you may have be lit up like a Christmas Tree but you didn't have a 'reflector'. I have a lot more then the law calls for but I make sure I have the least amount too.
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  21. #21
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin J View Post
    Do lights negate the need for reflectors?
    No. They don't. You can never have too much visibility. Well... maybe, um... you can... but that's rare

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    Thanks Mike - saves me from having to search for that myself. So I guess the front reflector gets the boot for a few months then....

    Good to know about the side reflectivity requriements. I also have reflective side-walls, but will likely add some tape too. I like how the poster above has parts of the frame taped-up because motorist *should* be able to tell it is obviously a bike with they way the tape outlines the shape of a bike frame...

  23. #23
    tcs
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    On the general subject of the thread:

    There's an interesting disconnect with bicycles in the USA. For new, retail sales, bicycles are regulated as toys by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (rather than as vehicles by the Department of Transportation). Because of this, the Feds aren't involved once the bike is purchased, and state law/local ordinance govern the actual use of the bicycle as a vehicle.

    So bicycles in most jurisdictions in the USA have to be equipped one way to be legally sold (new, retail) and another way to be legally used!
    Last edited by tcs; 11-15-10 at 04:57 PM.
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  24. #24
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin J View Post
    Thanks Mike - saves me from having to search for that myself. So I guess the front reflector gets the boot for a few months then....

    Good to know about the side reflectivity requriements. I also have reflective side-walls, but will likely add some tape too. I like how the poster above has parts of the frame taped-up because motorist *should* be able to tell it is obviously a bike with they way the tape outlines the shape of a bike frame...
    Hm... good point, I never though about it that way.

  25. #25
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    NY states that i need a light on front, but nothing on reflectors.

    Section 1236. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. (a) Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible during hours of darkness from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red light visible to the rear for three hundred feet. Effective July first, nineteen hundred seventy-six, at least one of these lights shall be visible for two hundred feet from each side.
    Yes they are required in NYS.

    Don't stop at 1236(a). Keep reading to 1236(d) and 1236(e):

    # (d) Every new bicycle shall be equipped with reflective tires or, alternately, a reflex reflector mounted on the spokes of each wheel, said tires and reflectors to be of types approved by the commissioner. The reflex reflector mounted on the front wheel shall be colorless or amber, and the reflex reflector mounted on the rear wheel shall be colorless or red.

    # (e) Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with reflective devices or material meeting the standards established by rules and regulations promulgated by the commissioner; provided, however, that such standards shall not be inconsistent with or otherwise conflict with the requirements of subdivisions (a) and (d) of this Section.
    Reference: https://www.nysdot.gov/portal/page/p...laws/laws.html
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