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Old 01-24-05, 08:00 AM   #1
cyclezealot
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Many states require bike lights to not flash.

At least your one main light...Guess, my question does not apply to me because I use multiple lights in the rear...But, if you only have one light, I say it is more noticeable in the flashing mode..Just from observing bike ligths from the rear..That one punny light has little effect in non-flashing mode..You agree.
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Old 01-24-05, 08:19 AM   #2
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I agree. The local legislator, however, does not. I believe they are not legal around here either, strictly speaking, but I have yet to hear about anyone being ticketed or even reprimanded for flashing lights. I think the cops are just happy if we have any lights at all.

BTW, I believe a dynamo (or dynohub) setup is required by the law in Germany, unless you're riding a light road bike. A battery light will not do. Does anyone know if this law is enforced at all in Germany?

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Old 01-24-05, 08:29 AM   #3
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A flashing light does not allow the human eye to establish distance. That's why I run at least 2, one steady 1 flashing. I don't know what the law says in my area, other than that I have to have a rear red reflector (which I do).
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Old 01-24-05, 09:12 AM   #4
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The laws reserve flashing lights for emergency vehicles. I dont think the police bother with flashing bike lights because the are glad to see any light on a bike, and I dont think anyone will mistake bike a flashing light for a fire truck. Distance perception is only a problem with the strobe lights which flash on for less than 1/1000 sec. Air traffic controllers often ask pilots to switch on their flood lights to overcome this.
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Old 01-24-05, 09:14 AM   #5
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What US communities require a sold light?
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Old 01-24-05, 09:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by lala
What US communities require a sold light?
All of them, I think they want everyone to use lights that weren't stolen

I've never heard of this law in the US either, unless you are talking about a blue flashing light, or red flashing lights in front.
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Old 01-24-05, 09:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
All of them, I think they want everyone to use lights that weren't stolen

I've never heard of this law in the US either, unless you are talking about a blue flashing light, or red flashing lights in front.
All the Washington law requires is a light you can see from 250', mentions nothing about it having to be solid.
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Old 01-24-05, 10:40 AM   #8
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I decided to look it up. It looks like only flashing amber lights are allowed, not flashing red lights, but its not entirely clear to me. Relevant part bolded:
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347.489 (1) No person may operate a bicycle or motor bicycle upon a highway, sidewalk, bicycle lane or bicycle way during hours of darkness unless the bicycle or motor bicycle is equipped with or the operator is wearing a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle or motor bicycle. A bicycle or motor bicycle shall also be equipped with a red reflector that has a diameter of at least 2 inches of surface area on the rear so mounted and maintained as to be visible from all distances from 50 to 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red or flashing amber light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to but not in lieu of the red reflector.
I think the red might have to be solid, since they specifically mention flashing for the amber light. I'm not too worried about getting pulled over though.

BTW, this is for WI.
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Old 01-24-05, 11:09 AM   #9
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Yeah.....ok....but who enforces them????????????????????????
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Old 01-24-05, 11:13 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by The Fixer
Yeah.....ok....but who enforces them????????????????????????
The cop that you annoyed in one way or another.

Here's Ohio's law (O.R.C. 4511.56(A)(3)):

(A) Every bicycle when in use at the times specified in section 4513.03 of the Revised Code, shall be equipped with the following:

* * *

(3) A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear shall be used in addition to the red reflector. . . .
Notice the brilliant draftmanship: Every bicycle . . . shall be equipped with . . . [a] lamp . . . shall be used. . . ."

There's no mention of whether flashing lights are OK. But the language saying a cycle must be "equiped" with a red light could be taken to mean that the light has to be attached to the bike. The shall-be-used language could mean that a helmet light would be OK, but the statute is such a mess I don't think I'd want to count on it. Plus, if you turn your head, the light might not be visable 500' to the rear.

I'll stick with my plan--one on the helmet. One on the bike. Both blinking.

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Old 01-24-05, 11:54 AM   #11
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Interesting discussion. I see lots of bikes with flashing lights here in my town. As for the question about the dynamo light being required in Germany and if that is enforced, my feeling is that it would be enforced strictly, much like everything else is over there. I would stick to the letter of the law in Germany. It's not nice to make that nice Polizei Offizier angry. Oops, sorry. That's police officer.
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Old 01-24-05, 12:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
The cop that you annoyed in one way or another.
Most cops are happy that you've got lights.......or anything visible, flashing or not, for that matter....
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Old 01-24-05, 12:28 PM   #13
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Just my personal observation...I see flasing lights faster than dull steady light.
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Old 01-24-05, 12:38 PM   #14
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DogBoy wrote:

"...I run at least 2, one steady 1 flashing."

I like that idea.
I think I'll try it.
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Old 01-24-05, 05:44 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
At least your one main light...Guess, my question does not apply to me because I use multiple lights in the rear...But, if you only have one light, I say it is more noticeable in the flashing mode..Just from observing bike ligths from the rear..That one punny light has little effect in non-flashing mode..You agree.
"many states require bike lights to not flash"? ??????????? You've got to be joking. It sounds as if some legeslators haven't got a life.
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Old 01-24-05, 07:26 PM   #16
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If you research your state's code to see if flashing lights are prohibited, you need to search more than the bicycle specific regulations. Flashing lights generally are regulated. That doesn't mean they are prohibited. For example, every car has flashing hazard lights, so there must be a condition where they may be used.

In Texas, a vehicle (bikes are vehicles too) may use flashing lights (amber in front, red or amber in the rear) to indicate a condition where extra caution is required in passing the vehicle. The flashing lights must be spaced as far apart as practicable and all must flash at the same time. Lights that flash in an alternating pattern are generally reserved for emergency vehicles, school buses, tow trucks, etc.

So, my personal interpretation is that a single red blinker on the rear of a bicycle is legal in Texas. Two blinkers that do not flash in sync may not be unless you are a bike cop.
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Old 01-24-05, 09:59 PM   #17
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From the PA bike laws website... I mean pedalcycle laws website:

"Operators of pedalcycles may supplement the required front lamp with a white flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device to enhance their visibility to other traffic and with a lamp emitting a red flashing lamp, light emitting diode or similar device visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear."

You still need solid front light and, from previous sections of the law, a 2" rear reflector in addition to flashing lights.

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Old 01-24-05, 11:02 PM   #18
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The "code" of laws relating to motor vehicles and bicycles in Texas is huge. It has grown, page by page, since around 1880. The legislature always adds stuff, but never takes anything out of it. And, except for a student at the "Police Academy", few people have ever read every word of it.

Part of the Texas code says that when you change a flat tire a night, you must light flares at a specified distance behind your vehicle (a hundred feet, two hundred feet or something like that). I have NEVER seen anyone light a flare to change a tire. Given the nature of the Texas legislature, the paragraph regarding the use of flares will still be in the code a hundred years after the last flare goes off to the museum of 19th century technology. And then, there are pages and pages of stuff relating to cattle and farm roads.

Anyway, the end result of having several thousand obcure and arcane "road rules" is that most local cops remember only a few of the most basic rules. People are supposed to stop at stop signs and red lights. People are supposed to drive less than 50mph through a school zone. And, if the doughnut shops are closed, sometimes the cops enforce those three rules.

I won't hold my breath waiting for a cop to critique the merits and demerits of my bike's lighting system. I suspect that in a city that averages an armed robbery every hour, that is not a "high" priority at the police department.

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Old 01-24-05, 11:32 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
Part of the Texas code says that when you change a flat tire a night, you must light flares at a specified distance behind your vehicle (a hundred feet, two hundred feet or something like that). I have NEVER seen anyone light a flare to change a tire. Then, there are pages and pages of stuff relating to cattle and farm roads.
A quick search of the Texas code reveals that this provision only applies to trucks and buses. The law provides this as an alternative to activating hazard lights when stopped on the shoulder for any reason.

I could find no provision stating that flares are required for anything related to passenger automobiles.
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Old 01-25-05, 08:09 AM   #20
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Kind of related, I had a cop stop me for running a red blinkie as a front light. He made me turn it off, so I effectively had no front light. I told him I was just doing what I could to be seen, and pointed out that it was probably safer for all to leave it on. He wouldn't budge. I asked him what he was worried about, did he think that the cagers would think that I was riding backwards? He didn't share my sense of humour. Some cops are a little hung up on the rules I think. At least he didn't give me a ticket.
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Old 01-25-05, 09:22 AM   #21
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Maybe he was worried someone would mistake you for an emergency vehicle and pull over.
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Old 01-25-05, 11:41 AM   #22
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Using red front lights would be very dangerous around intersections since a crossing motorist could very well mistake you for a wrong way cyclist heading away from the intersection when in reality you are approaching.
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Old 01-25-05, 01:05 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supcom
Using red front lights would be very dangerous around intersections since a crossing motorist could very well mistake you for a wrong way cyclist heading away from the intersection when in reality you are approaching.
I'm not sure I agree with that. I actually like running flashing red lights, along with my flashing white lights, up front. I find the red LED's are brighter, and easier to spot-and when bordered by different coloured blinkies they mimmic an emergency vehicle. To my way of thinking, it is all about being noticed. The truth is most motorists don't see cyclists anyway, and it's not for lack of lights-it's because they aren't looking for them at all. They don't notice night riders because there are other light sources around that are more distracting, and they are really only concerned with things that resemble car lights. My stratagy is to try to attract as much attention to myself as possible, and in my experience, it works significantly better than following the rules to the letter.
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Old 01-25-05, 01:49 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fixer
Most cops are happy that you've got lights.......or anything visible, flashing or not, for that matter....
Yeah as long as they don't walk into a conversation. I went to eat one night and ran into a cop that I saw at the LBS from time to time. We were outside talking, while he was getting hit bike together. I was mentioning the valve stem lights, when his partner came out. She started hounding me about how they are illegal. That is when he stopped her and told her that they were going on my BICYCLE, not my truck. She just said "Oh". No apology.

I sometimes wish that the cops would start enforcing lights at night, I see tooo many bikes at night, with no lights, reflectors and the guys are wearing dark clothes. Pretty bad when a cyclist is almost ran over by another cyclist.
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Old 01-25-05, 01:51 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juha
I agree. The local legislator, however, does not. I believe they are not legal around here either, strictly speaking, but I have yet to hear about anyone being ticketed or even reprimanded for flashing lights. I think the cops are just happy if we have any lights at all.

BTW, I believe a dynamo (or dynohub) setup is required by the law in Germany, unless you're riding a light road bike. A battery light will not do. Does anyone know if this law is enforced at all in Germany?

--J
I spend a LOT of time on the road in my community, and I've actually had the cops to tell me to go into blink mode (as they've seen both).

I usually go blink when traffic is clipping by between 25-35MPH, solid when it's faster, solid when it's slower. That's just for my back light.

As far as my front light, I've had quite a few complaints about it on flashing, so I ONLY turn it on flash mode when I'm in serious downtown rush hour traffic. The rest of the time, it's on solid. The front ones I've had/have always seem to be seizure inducing.

But, as stated, most agencies are happy you have a light at all. Call your local PD if you have any questions.
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