This morning I did not ride either of my usual commuter geek-cycles with super bright and visible lights front and rear. I am lending one of my good road bikes to a racer who will be in town for a few days so I had to ride it in. In addition to my usual reflective vest I had a blinky on back and an LED light in front. Some incidents this morning convinced me that more and brighter lights are definitely preferable. Keep in mind that this is well before daylight, 5:30 AM.
All of this happened within just 100-200 meters except that the last bit was a couple of blocks further on. First, a car passed far too close for comfort. Then just a minute later a BUS passed too close for comfort. This RARELY happens when I have my big bright 54 LED truck brake light on. But it does happen so it's not too disturbing. It was the third incident that, while not as threatening, was spookier the more you think about it. Shortly after the bus passed a pickup passed quite safely in the middle lane (three lanes, I'm taking the right lane.), but he gave a little toot of the horn as he passed. Not an aggravated, more like a toot of recognition by someone who knows you.
A couple of blocks further on I see what I am sure is the same truck pulled over. As I approach he gives a couple of toots so now I'm thinking maybe it IS someone who knows me and pull over. To get out of traffic I go around to the passenger side and motion the guy to roll the window down because I can't hear him. He does not appear agitated or anything. So he gets the window down, and I see the beer in his hand (5:30 AM, remember?). He asks "Are you sure it's a good idea for you to be out here?" I tell him this is not my usual bike, that the other one has bright lights and is more visible. He proceeds to express concern that I am not very visible and he just wanted to tell me to be careful, that someone could hit me then be charged with manslaughter. I thank him for his concern and we depart friends. Now here's the spooky part, in case you haven't guessed - this guy was so completely smashed he was nearly incoherent! The only GOOD thing, for him, about being in a vehicle was that he probably couldn't stand or walk. Yet, he's DRIVING! I debated calling 911 to report him but figured he would be long gone before I could even make the call.