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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 01-13-05, 08:49 PM   #1
JohnBrooking
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Running lights?

Hey, I had a cool idea while riding home tonight. My manager mentioned to me a few days ago that I was still very hard to see at night, despite my tail blinkies and my orange reflective vest. He especially mentioned from the side. So I was thinking, what I need is some lights that can be seen from the side. Kind of like a bike version of the lights that some semi's have all along their trailers. I could have two or three lights on each side of my crossbar, maybe a few on my fork, all strung together off a battery and with a single switch. Maybe you could even package a light, a AA or AAA battery, and a small switch, and install it between spokes to have spinning wheel lights!

I wonder if anyone's done this? I have some questions along two lines. First, how effective would this be? What I have in mind is something like flashlight bulbs running off small household batteries like AA or maybe C or D, but would those be bright enough? I'm obviously not aiming to light my path, simply to make me more visible to drivers in my immediate vicinity.

My second group of questions is about the electronics, with which I have limited experience. I'm imagining I can buy things like plastic battery holders with terminals to attach wires to, bulb holders with same, etc. Would Radio Shack have everything I need, or if not, what are good online outlets? What about making it waterproof? Even more basic, where can I learn about matching bulbs and batteries, in terms of voltage and amperage?

If I end up doing this, I'll post a picture and let you know how it turns out!
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Old 01-13-05, 09:18 PM   #2
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Holiday lights, dude, holiday lights.
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Old 01-13-05, 09:58 PM   #3
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Side lighting? Can't see you?

http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/lighting/index.html

This premium quality waterproof tail light features 10 LEDs, 6 facing straight back and 2 facing sideways on each side.
This is probably the brightest 2-AA cell blinky there is, thanks to CatEye's superior optics.

The LEDs are arranged in two banks of 5, with separate switches for the upper/lower banks. Each set of 5 LEDs can be independently set for either steady glow or one of three different flashing patterns for maximum conspicuity.

Comes with a quick-release seatpost mount, also fits standard reflector brackets with included hardware. 2 AA Batteries included.

Last edited by 2manybikes; 01-13-05 at 10:00 PM. Reason: incomplete
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Old 01-13-05, 10:06 PM   #4
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Heard of Tireflys?
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Old 01-13-05, 10:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ollo_ollo
Heard of Tireflys?
Excellent idea, not to mention spoke reflectors and tires with reflective sidewalls.

But I gotta say ...........holiday lights would be way cool. If anybody says that any more.

I actually have a battery operated small set of tree lights that I put in a car once. It would work on a bike.
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Old 01-14-05, 01:58 AM   #6
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-- Can't wait to see the pictures. The more lights the better.
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Old 01-14-05, 02:18 AM   #7
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You could install the holiday light set that also beeps "Jingle Bells" through a pathetic speaker. You would be the ueber-geek (freek?) of the neighbourhood!

Or maybe you already are .

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Old 01-14-05, 02:55 AM   #8
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You local laws probably state you need wheel reflectors. The Radio Shack geeks can usually get you pointed in the right direction too.
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Old 01-14-05, 06:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ollo_ollo
Heard of Tireflys?
I hadn't, but they are cool! Thanks.

One concern: One of the FAQ's is
4. Are Tireflys legal in my area?
Please check with your local law enforcement.
Why would they not be -- too distracting, maybe? Anyone know if this is a widespread issue?
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Old 01-14-05, 06:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manybikes
I actually have a battery operated small set of tree lights that I put in a car once. It would work on a bike.
What battery did they run off of? Although I have been accused of being a computer geek and a general geek, I am not yet a bike geek a-la the Total Geekiness thread. (Only a matter of time, I suppose. The point is that I don't yet have that level of knowledge of lights and batteries.)
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Old 01-14-05, 06:21 AM   #11
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BTW, I decided last night to start off with the Cateye HL-EL500 for a headlight, and yes, the TL-LD1000 taillight, along with maybe a Tirefly for each wheel. Or maybe some Cateye SL-LD100's would be a more traditional approach to the extra lighting I'm seeking in the spokes or along the body. (Unless can I rig up those holiday lights without too much hassle, 2manybikes! )

I should mention my current lights are a Cateye HL-500 headlight, which I find barely bright enough even with good batteries, and the basic TL-LD120 3-LED model taillight.
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Old 01-14-05, 09:05 AM   #12
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Political Comment: Here in CA we have some of the dumbest lighting laws around.

That being said...

Tireflys are definately a good way to be seen. I run them anyway and haven't had problems. A friend runs them on his M/C and loves them.

In CA, I would recommend using white or amber on the front and red on the back. This matches the motor vehicle code requirements, so at least you have a something to refer to. Check your state

Don't use blue or green, the cops will cite you...we know! Blue is reserved for police vehicles and green is...well, see the first comment.
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Old 01-14-05, 09:31 AM   #13
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Someone posted a picture of a bike with a neon ground effects kit a while back.
I Just bought a blue neon tube for $2 (on clearance) and plan to zip tie it on the seat stay.
Enjoy
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Old 01-14-05, 09:48 AM   #14
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What does the law actually say?

Here we're required to have a white headlight visible from some distance and a red tail, likewise. Not that it's usually enforced, but that's the law.
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Old 01-14-05, 10:04 AM   #15
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I got a high beam and a low beam, 27 watts up front, 19 LED's in the back on solid, 3 LED's on my bag on blink.
If you miss me, you're probably blind.
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Old 01-14-05, 11:54 AM   #16
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Here you go, bostontrevor and powers2b:

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21201_3.htm

I'm not sure in which state or country you guys ride. This is the skinny in CA

Also...

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21201.htm

See Item D. I'm no lawyer, but it doesn't seem to address side lighting at all.

Last edited by eubi; 01-20-05 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 01-14-05, 12:04 PM   #17
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I guess you could do this if you wanted too.

If you want them you can have them.

Just promise that If you really use them you must post a picture.

Last edited by 2manybikes; 01-14-05 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 01-14-05, 12:10 PM   #18
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Ugh. CPSC. Mass allows the substitution of active tail light for rear reflector and reflectorized ankle straps for pedal reflectors.

(we also technically disallow ape-hanger bars but I don't know that it's ever enforced...see 'em all the time)
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Old 01-14-05, 02:04 PM   #19
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Bostontrever, what do you mean by ape hanger handlebars? On bicycles?

I know what they are in the M/C world.

Thanks.
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Old 01-14-05, 03:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
I hadn't, but they are cool! Thanks.

One concern: One of the FAQ's is
4. Are Tireflys legal in my area?
Please check with your local law enforcement.
Why would they not be -- too distracting, maybe? Anyone know if this is a widespread issue?
There seems to be an issue regarding legal color (s). I use yellow (the color of warning). There was an item on a thread regarding a potential problem with blue Tireflys; they might be mistaken for law enforcement in some places.

Red facing rear, white facing front, yellow to the side should keep you legal.
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Old 01-14-05, 03:46 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
Here you go, bostontrevor and powers2b:

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21201_3.htm

I'm not sure in which state or country you guys ride. This is the skinny in CA

Also...

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21201.htm

See Item D. I'm no lawyer, but it doesn't seen to address side lighting at all.
That's interesting - according to 21201.d.3 all clipless pedals are illegal to ride on the road with after dark! I've never seen a clipless pedal that has a reflector on both front and back.
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Old 01-14-05, 04:26 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
Bostontrever, what do you mean by ape hanger handlebars? On bicycles?

I know what they are in the M/C world.

Thanks.
Same damn thing.

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Old 01-14-05, 04:38 PM   #23
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What you need is the . . . Down Low Glow!!!

http://www.fossilfool.com/down-low-glow.htm
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Old 01-14-05, 05:14 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billh
What you need is the . . . Down Low Glow!!!

http://www.fossilfool.com/down-low-glow.htm
Cool, cool. But:


Quote:
Originally Posted by PainTrain
Red facing rear, white facing front, yellow to the side should keep you legal.
I see only red, green, and blue lights pictured on their web site. Seems like yellow would be the ideal for commuting.


Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
Don't use blue or green, the cops will cite you...we know! Blue is reserved for police vehicles and green is...well, see the first comment.
I couldn't figure out what first comment you meant by that. What's wrong with green (except being non-standard)?
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Old 01-20-05, 08:47 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
I couldn't figure out what first comment you meant by that. What's wrong with green (except being non-standard)?
John, green just isn't an appropriate warning color, I guess.

My son was cited for having teeny green lights on the window washers on his truck. It was a major hassle to straighten it out. His "fix-it" ticket specifically said that forward-facing lights were not white or amber and we were required to fix it. Cutting the wires and rendering them just window washers wasn't good enough. We had to replace them with white and have them certified as being fixed at the police department. Sorry for the horror story. Such is life in SoCal.

Bostontrever, thanks for the photo. I can barely believe that thing, but whatever sells, I guess. I saw one for the first time at Sports Chalet last night. Ape-hangers are illegal on M/C's in CA, but I don't know about bicycles. Let me search CA DMV.
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