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  1. #1
    Senior Member Narhay's Avatar
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    Car driver tells me flashing headlight is too distracting

    I was stopped by a nice guy today at a stoplight and asked if I could change my front headlight, a relatively cheap $20 led, to stop flashing as it is too distracting.

    My thoughts are...mission successful. Yours?

  2. #2
    Acts 2:38 rex_kramer's Avatar
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    Mission accomplished.
    Philippians 2:9-11

  3. #3
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    "Thanks! You proved my point that it's working."

    If (s)he doesn't understand, end the conversation.
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Aushiker's Avatar
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    I am inclined to agree, but maybe also think about the angle you have it pointed. Maybe a slight tilt down will do the trick and not annoy people whilst making yourself more visible.

    Interesting response given this recent blog posting which suggests that use of a flashing light during the day.

    Andrew

  5. #5
    biker
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    Visible is good. Blinding is bad. Blinding means a reduced capacity to gauge where things are. When that happens to me, and I have to keep moving, I pick a line on one side of the lane to follow. Usually it's the one that should result in a reduction of risk of hitting big objects that could hurt me, which may turn out poorly for pedestrians and cyclists.

  6. #6
    Chainstay Brake Mafia
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    i've heard a flashing light makes it harder to determine the location of an object. but I always run with my lights on flash.

    I do tilt the headlight down a bit so as not to blind drivers
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  7. #7
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    actually, this got me thinking ...

    when I have to ride on the street (i.e. no segregated bike path), almost all of the streets are segregated with a subway/surface line in between. meaning that a driver couldn't physically stop and say that my headlight is distracting, nor could the driver be distracted (at least by a headlight) and hit me.

    i do run the rear on flash, but it seems that most other bikers run them on solid. in fact most riders have dynamos, integrated rear rack/lights with a sunlight sensor to turn the light on automatically. i'm probably one of the few people with a blinky, so maybe i'll convert it solid tonight

    thoughts?
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
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  8. #8
    Chainstay Brake Mafia
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    maybe i'll convert it solid tonight

    thoughts?
    i leave it on flash partially to save battery life, but if you've got a dynamo then that doesn't matter i suppose
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  9. #9
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    Some strobe lights are "attracting" but others have such a low frequency that they leave big gaps of darkness, long enough for a driver to glance, see nothing and pull out in front of you from the side.

    Flashing lights can be noticed but it is very difficult to estimate distance, esp it it is so dark, all you can see is the light.

    Flashing lights should be used in poor daylight or dusk where you can be seen if someone looks. In the dark, switch to solid beam.

    Some people run 2 flashing lights at different frequencies, much too hypnotic. Run one solid and one flashing.

  10. #10
    Mister Bleak! mconlonx's Avatar
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    "You saw my light? Well then it worked--too many cyclists and pedestrians get killed or hurt because drivers 'don't see them'."

    I moved my 250 lumen light from my helmet to my handlebars because I was hearing nasty comments from pedestrians...

    Two lights, front and rear, brightest on steady, less powerful light set to blinking.
    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    Bottom line: everyone here should listen to Mconlonx... he has it figured out and the rest of you, well, don't.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    I have a flashlight holder on my bars. I use both a flashing LED lamp, and a strong beam LED headlight that stays constantly on. It is a winning combination for me. During daylight, the flashing LED grabs drivers' attention and they don't pull in front of me. Perhaps they can't judge my speed (it's hard even with a steady light, since bike has a very narrow profile), but they SEE me coming. That's good enough for me.




    Just to stress once more that it's hard for the human eye to judge your speed if you're coming toward the beholder, not moving laterally. So light on steady, or flashing doesn't make much difference. With cars it's easy, we subconsciously measure the visible distance between the two front headlights (about 1,5 meters) and by how big it appears and how it increases, we judge speed. With bikes that have lights too narrowly (one, or two mostly 50 cm apart), that's not possible.
    Evviva il comunismo e la libertà.

  12. #12
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    Interesting thread.

    Personally: I run both front lights on solid. However, there are two areas on the commute HOME that has delayed green lights (which are so stupid to be honest) and in the rain/dark I will use the blinky on the front if I feel the need.

    For the back lights, Planet bike blinkies work great for me. I do run two different back lights. One solid and one blinkie.

    I would say that if a driver said it was too distracting then it is working however as some say, perhaps point it down a little.
    Feel free to visit my blog www.chefonabicycle.com

  13. #13
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    Run one solid and one flashing.
    +1.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member locolobo13's Avatar
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    Part of driving is dealing with distractions. If you can't see well enough to judge whether to move into the bikers lane then wait. Cuss the rider but wait.

    That said I ride with the front light solid, rears blinking.

  15. #15
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    In many jurisdictions, flashing (headlights or taillights) are a code violation. Further, as others have mentioned there is some evidence that they increase the likelihood of collision. On top of that, a flashing HEADLIGHT, reduces a headlights primary purpose--to allow one to see ahead of one. Headlights are not, primarily, about being seen, but about seeing.

    And I will note, that by your (OP) own admission, the driver was polite and simply conveying what they believed to be relevent information (which as others have pointed out has some factual basis) and your instinctual response was sarcasm? Very civilized behavior/instincts you have.

  16. #16
    Senior Member david58's Avatar
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    I run two MagicShines on the front - steady on the bars, and flashing on the helmet. 2-3 flashers and a solid on the back. Frankly, I don't care if I distract or irritate a driver with my lights - at least they can see me. And I still have two right hooks in the past two days...
    2011 BMC SR02; 2010 Fuji Cross Comp; n+1 on hold today, due to college tuition and a wedding. Some day, some where, over the rainbow, I will get that 29er....

  17. #17
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
    I have a flashlight holder on my bars. I use both a flashing LED lamp, and a strong beam LED headlight that stays constantly on. It is a winning combination for me. During daylight, the flashing LED grabs drivers' attention and they don't pull in front of me. Perhaps they can't judge my speed (it's hard even with a steady light, since bike has a very narrow profile), but they SEE me coming. That's good enough for me.

    Just to stress once more that it's hard for the human eye to judge your speed if you're coming toward the beholder, not moving laterally. So light on steady, or flashing doesn't make much difference. With cars it's easy, we subconsciously measure the visible distance between the two front headlights (about 1,5 meters) and by how big it appears and how it increases, we judge speed. With bikes that have lights too narrowly (one, or two mostly 50 cm apart), that's not possible.
    Completely agree with this. Would simply like to add that there is also a tendency to judge distance to a single light source by brightness and motion. And a slow moving low-powered bike headlight can fool oncoming traffic into believing you are much further away than you are. You might just as well be a distant motorcycle or car with a burnt out headlight - its just a light source.

    BRIGHT lights are CRITICAL when driving in traffic and sharing roads with motor vehicles. Properly adjusted, 'bright' doesn't have to mean 'blinding' for oncoming traffic.
    Last edited by Burton; 11-09-12 at 07:17 AM.

  18. #18
    "Per Ardua ad Surly" nelson249's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    . Run one solid and one flashing.
    +2. I often leave my cheap Cat Eye 3LED light on flash and then use a Light and Motion Stella on solid. I find the Stella is a little too bright on flash when it's really dark out. I reserve its flash for misty and low light conditions. When it's really dark I augment both with my old BLT halogen helmet light. That really brigthens things! The other day I was complimented by a driver who nearly clipped a wrong way ninja earlier that evening.
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  19. #19
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    Headlights are not, primarily, about being seen, but about seeing.
    Gotta disagree, in a well-lit urban area, a headlight is about being seen, rather than seeing. That's why on city bikes over here they only have 20-40 Lux integrated lights.
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
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  20. #20
    Old, but not really wise CptjohnC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    Two lights, front and rear, brightest on steady, less powerful light set to blinking.
    This is my usual strategy on the street.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hangtownmatt View Post
    I ask, what's the true cost of NOT commuting? Higher blood pressure, increase weight, pot belly, reduced energy, less happy, ect. The list goes on. My reasons for commuting by bike, and the benefits I receive, go far beyond a cost benefit analysis.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Mr. Hairy Legs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CptjohnC View Post
    This is my usual strategy on the street.
    Mine too... I'm not out to make friends, I'm trying to make it home alive.

  22. #22
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    You said he was a nice guy. I would have asked what he meant by distracted..
    “Annoyed”or “Blinded”. Big difference in your safety and his.
    Thank him for letting you know. Make adjustments on your light angle if necessary.
    To respond all snarky as some have suggested is contrary to the respect y’all scream about lacking on the road.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
    - Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  23. #23
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    In many jurisdictions, flashing (headlights or taillights) are a code violation. Further, as others have mentioned there is some evidence that they increase the likelihood of collision. On top of that, a flashing HEADLIGHT, reduces a headlights primary purpose--to allow one to see ahead of one. Headlights are not, primarily, about being seen, but about seeing.
    I disagree. I believe that the primary function of headlights, both car and bicycle, is to be seen. On a car, brights and fog lights are used to see. Most bicycle lights are only bright enough to be used as "been seen" and not to see.

    I do most of my riding during light hours. At these times, I flash both front and back. When it is dark out, I do have a (supposedly) >1000 lumin flash light on front that I turn on solid.

    Cheers,
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  24. #24
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
    I have a flashlight holder on my bars. I use both a flashing LED lamp, and a strong beam LED headlight that stays constantly on. It is a winning combination for me. During daylight, the flashing LED grabs drivers' attention and they don't pull in front of me. Perhaps they can't judge my speed (it's hard even with a steady light, since bike has a very narrow profile), but they SEE me coming. That's good enough for me.




    Just to stress once more that it's hard for the human eye to judge your speed if you're coming toward the beholder, not moving laterally. So light on steady, or flashing doesn't make much difference. With cars it's easy, we subconsciously measure the visible distance between the two front headlights (about 1,5 meters) and by how big it appears and how it increases, we judge speed. With bikes that have lights too narrowly (one, or two mostly 50 cm apart), that's not possible.
    I agree. And your comment about cars is spot on. This is why I really don't like jeeps where they don't place the headlights at the outside of the width of the car. It makes them appear further away than they are.

    Cheers,
    Charles
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  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    I don't see the point of running the front light on flash. Drivers on the other side of the road aren't going to hit you, and you risk distracting them. It doesn't help you see the road at all.

    Is the reasoning for front flash to help prevent people pulling out from side streets? I think a bright headlight would do the same coupled with riding farther away from the curb.

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