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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 08-13-13, 10:13 AM   #1
Squeeze
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Front & rear daytime running lights - blinking or solid and why?

I've recently started bike commuting after a long time away from bicycles, and I LOVE it.

I was in a bike shop last night after work checking out rear rack options and noticed a bunch of little white and red lights. These weren't headlights to see the road with but little rubber-mounted bright LEDs that would easily wrap around a handlebar or a seat post. I saw a couple so small that they were probably powered with watch batteries. All I played around with had at least two modes: blinking and solid (always on). Some had fast blinking and slow blinking too, and maybe other options I didn't notice.

A lot of my commute is on trails and through quiet neighborhood streets, but I have been noticing that a car driving under shady trees can be almost invisible while in the shade on a sunny morning, especially at a quick glance. And, lately I've been taking a short cut through two busy intersections instead of taking the long way around them lately.

I'd like to be seen and will probably grab white and a red light the next time I have a couple extra bucks and welcome any recommendations for good ones, but I'm wondering about blinking lights vs. solid lights.

Front and back, white and red, blinking or solid, and why, please?

Thanks!
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Old 08-13-13, 10:17 AM   #2
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If you're into safety, then blinking lights will draw more attention.

But I like the solid always on look.
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Old 08-13-13, 11:05 AM   #3
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Blinking lights attract the eye, but they are also harder to track/ gauge speed.

Just about any light is bright when viewed directly at arms length. Do some youtube searches and you'll quickly find those little lights are pretty much useless for anything other than MUP rides.
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Old 08-13-13, 11:17 AM   #4
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I always go with standard or rechargeable batteries. can't imaging trying to keep up with little watch batteries
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Old 08-13-13, 11:58 AM   #5
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I always go with standard or rechargeable batteries. can't imaging trying to keep up with little watch batteries
+1

When I feel the need for added visibility during the day, I run my "See Me" headlight (Blacburn Quadrant) in blinking mode. I will also run my PB Superflash in blink mode as well. I agree with no1mad about the binking lights attracting the eye, and solid being easier to judge. If I feel a need to run lights in the daytime, I want to attract attention.

At night, I run the headlights on solid, and I only have the Superflash blinking, the other five taillights are solid.

I usually don't feel the need to run with lights on all the time. At night I run all the lights I have.

I can't wait until I can get a new Down Low Glow battery.
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Old 08-13-13, 12:10 PM   #6
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Thanks gents. So it sounds like it's just personal preference, then? I saw a remark in another thread about a blinking white light on the rear being potentially illegal, and I just figured as a newbie, I'd ask to see what's "right" for lights.

I will feel better going through the heavy intersections with some lights, I think. I saw a rider with a solid white headlight on in the daytime recently and it drew my eye immediately. I was several lanes over in my car. It would be nice to have a light that I can turn on as I approach traffic, I think.
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Old 08-13-13, 12:17 PM   #7
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No .. I have an Annoyingly Bright Neon Lime Carhartt sweatshirt with reflective stripes..

and I moved away from the Cities you worry about getting hit riding your Bike through.


If you Buy a Dyno-hub and an LED Headlight then your light runs off the wheel turning..

and you dont sweat the power for the light.
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Old 08-13-13, 12:54 PM   #8
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No .. I have an Annoyingly Bright Neon Lime Carhartt sweatshirt with reflective stripes..
and I moved away from the Cities you worry about getting hit riding your Bike through.
Essentially this... come on.. you all drive... how well do blinkies work during the day?! My batteries last more than twice as long as many of you here because I take advantage of the fact that they are not needed in the daytime!!! Hi- viz clothing is more effective at standing out in traffic as a cyclist, day or night, than a blinky. But, as mentioned, flashing is what gets attention so... why wouldn't one go with that... at night. And... a car does not need (or care) how fast you are going. They need to know that you are there. Period. Once they know that, they can avoid hitting you. Make yourself annoying enough with too much wattage and they may hit you intentionally just to stop the pain in their eyeballs... just saying. Honestly, it isn't rocket science.

H
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Old 08-13-13, 12:54 PM   #9
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On my commuter, I have two PB Superflash Turbos (one in flash mode whenever I'm riding - the other gets turned on steady if it is dark) and a pair of 600 lumen headlights (one in flash mode whenever I'm riding - the other gets turned on steady if it is dark). Other bikes just have a single PB Superflash Turbo that is in flash mode whenever I'm riding (these bikes don't go out after dark) and no flashing in front as they aren't ridden around much cross traffic.
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Old 08-13-13, 01:37 PM   #10
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they are not needed in the daytime!!!
That is why I started my post with "When I feel the need for added visibility...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Hi- viz clothing is more effective at standing out in traffic as a cyclist, day or night, than a blinky.
Reflective high vis clothing at night.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
But, as mentioned, flashing is what gets attention so... why wouldn't one go with that... at night.
I go with one flashing tail light to get them to notice me, I leave the others on solid to help the driver accurately judge our relative positions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Make yourself annoying enough with too much wattage and they may hit you intentionally just to stop the pain in their eyeballs.
H
I hadn't thought of that. I operate on the theory that drivers aren't expecting to see a cyclist at night. So I feel it is on me to make sure that they notice me... I don't care if the drivers first thought is "What, in the name of all that's holy, is that thing." , as long as they notice me and don't hit me.
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Old 08-13-13, 02:10 PM   #11
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Blinking front lights are illegal on some states (like Washington) but most people around here still run blink mode in front.

For me I use blink mode front and back during the day and solid front and back at dawn/dusk/night since my goal during the day is to draw attention to my presence so I don't blend into the scenery. At night I want to be seen from far away and be able to have my speed and distance gauged properly by the driver.
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Old 08-13-13, 02:40 PM   #12
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Blinking front and rear during the day, blinking in the back at night and solid in the front at night.
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Old 08-13-13, 04:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squeeze View Post
I was in a bike shop last night after work checking out rear rack options and noticed a bunch of little white and red lights. These weren't headlights to see the road with but little rubber-mounted bright LEDs that would easily wrap around a handlebar or a seat post. I saw a couple so small that they were probably powered with watch batteries.
These suck. BikeSnob rightly calls them hipster cysts.

I carry a Photon Microlight on my keychain. It's basically the same as one of those lights without the silicon mount. If I shine it into your eyes you'd think it was bright. If we went into a dark room and I lit it up with the light,you'd think it was bright. If we went outside at night and I walked to the other end of the block,you'd just be able to see it. These type of lights are popular for style,but they really aren't that functional. 'Better than nothing' is the best praise I could give them.
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Old 08-13-13, 04:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Essentially this... come on.. you all drive... how well do blinkies work during the day?! My batteries last more than twice as long as many of you here because I take advantage of the fact that they are not needed in the daytime!!! Hi- viz clothing is more effective at standing out in traffic as a cyclist, day or night, than a blinky.

H
Unless you encounter a scenario such as:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squeeze View Post
A lot of my commute is on trails and through quiet neighborhood streets, but I have been noticing that a car driving under shady trees can be almost invisible while in the shade on a sunny morning, especially at a quick glance. And, lately I've been taking a short cut through two busy intersections instead of taking the long way around them lately.
Also, hi-viz clothing needs light to be visible. Some may find this (especially the fourth comparison) enlightening- http://mechbgon.com/visibility/activevpassive.html
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Old 08-13-13, 04:42 PM   #15
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Hey OP.

Here is my Intersection Daytime Blaster.
Runs 4 hours on High Strobe.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00..._email_1p_4_ti
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Old 08-13-13, 05:09 PM   #16
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I use a PDW Radbot 1000 day & night on the rear, flashing. http://www.amazon.com/Portland-Desig.../dp/B0030BS30K
On the front a Serfas Thunderbolt, on high flash (it has high and low flash & solid) during the day & night. http://www.amazon.com/Serfas-Thunder...ef=pd_sim_sg_1 Though it sucks the battery in about 3 hours. But it's USB recharge.
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Old 08-13-13, 05:30 PM   #17
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Blinking white lights on the front are annoying as hell to oncoming traffic (me)... please don't.
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Old 08-13-13, 05:35 PM   #18
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Blinking white lights on the front are annoying as hell to oncoming traffic (me)... please don't.
That is why I use Two of them.

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Old 08-13-13, 07:00 PM   #19
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To the op, I run blinky white front and blinky red rear in the daylight. I have seen and have used the steady/blink mode of my cygolite metro on the front at night. I meet a guy running a steady/blink at night and you can sure see him from quite a distance. Anyone else use a front light in that mode? Day or night?
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Old 08-13-13, 07:35 PM   #20
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Agree - those little silicone lights aren't good for anything except MUP's at night. In the street during the daytime no-one will see you - especially in bright sunlight.

I drive with solid lights front and back. Solid because its less annoying to other traffic, mounted well below the bars to be as traffic friendly as possible, and with a beam profile that cuts off below automotive windshield levels but still gives me lots of light. Cars don't need flashing headlights to be seen and neither do bicycles if equipped with lights with similar or brighter outputs.
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Old 08-13-13, 07:48 PM   #21
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In the bright summer sun, all lights disappear. So do bicycles. But when they pass through the shade of an overhanging tree, they do show up and sometimes allow a driver to spot a cyclist well in advance.
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Old 08-13-13, 07:57 PM   #22
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Cars don't need flashing headlights to be seen and neither do bicycles if equipped with lights with similar or brighter outputs.
When is that ever the case? Seriously. When? One headlamp of your average econobox puts over 1500 real lumens on the ground in a more or less precise beam pattern. Most of the lights in use by the cyclists of North America are somewhere south of 500 real lumens and lots of that is wasted on the sky. Bicycles are not cars. Car headlights are 8" in dameter! Motorcycle headlights are 6" in diameter! Bicycle headlights are 1.5" in diameter... ... cars have acres of taillight surface area. Many motorcycles despite having 20X the visible taillight area pulse the lights in a blink pattern very similar to a bike blinky when the brakes are actuated. Where do you think bike light manufacturers got the idea? Whatever you think, it has become the convention, in North America, for bicycles, at night (mostly) to blink their lights. Especially the rear lights. This says bike to a cager and I really don't have any statistics on how well or not it works. I mean... you probably wear a bike helmet right? Do you know how well helmets work if a car nails you? Well lets put it this way, if that car is going faster than 19mph when it hits you.... there isn't a whole lot of difference in the outcome re: helmet or not. I don't know who told you that blinkies are annoying to other traffic. Three or four (yes, many run that many) on one bike may be a little much, but, no driver would have issue with a cyclists blinky. This is the second time today some cyclist has said that they run solid lights because it's ... more automotive. Sigh... this car envy is going to be the death of some of you.

H
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Old 08-20-13, 03:11 PM   #23
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Blinking to get attention and solid for tracking is well supported by studies.
Tracking is also best with 2 or more sources at a distance from each other, preferably horizontal distance. Tracking is as or more important then attention when it comes to accident avoidance. Studies showed that speed mis-estimation played a major role in motorcycle accidents.

I am a firm believer in redundancy and overkill.

This is what I'm running now.

Passive lighting.
front
I put like 6 inches white of 1 inch 3m scotchlite on the from forks,
rear
6 inches of red on the rear frame of the rack. I also taped up the cranks with red scotchlite. This can be seem from front sides and rear.

There is reflective tape on my pack (sides and rear) as well as my marathons sidewalls. New helmet is sadly lacking but this will be fixed if I decide to keep using it.


Active lighting.
rear:
The cateye barrel TL-LD1100 mounted to rear of rack. It is out of production but has 2 rows of 5 leds each row switchable. I run one row constant and one blinking. It can be seen from more then 180 degrees and is fairly bright. I also run a 1w super flash on the non drive side in flash. Lastly, a helmet mounted blinky. Not so bright, but high up and very noticeable.

Front:
Sadly, so far just a cateye el-350. Looking forward to something better up front. I'll keep the 350 as a blinkie, secondary, or backup.


When I used to commute in Rochester along the canal, I had a Nightsun set up, That was marvelous! The headlight on high was the tail light tube was visible from miles away. A 10 and 25 watt halogen head light with great handlebar mounts. Downsides. Runtime was enough on low to there and back, but wouldn't be with this commute. If you lost low beam bulb, well you could use the high, while the battery lasted. And sometimes the pack obscured the tail light.

If only they'd adopt LED headlights I would purchase the new one in a heartbeat! Unfortunately, they seem stuck on filaments and their offerings have not changed much (well they dropped the GREAT LED tail light for Xenon strobe, and batteries are marginally better.) since I purchased them in the early 90's.
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Old 08-20-13, 03:29 PM   #24
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... This is the second time today some cyclist has said that they run solid lights because it's ... more automotive. Sigh... this car envy is going to be the death of some of you.

H
Thanks for the lumens for a single car low beam. Quite useful.

In Germany blinking rear lights are illegal. I think other EU countries as well. Has to do with the ability to judge distance and speed.
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