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  1. #1
    ed
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    Tail light users...what's your demographic?

    Don't take this the wrong way b/c I'm an ex-skateboarder / urban biker (urban meaning...jumping off stair cases and walls etc...) and when I see so many threads about tail lights...I get a bit confused. I can understand expending so much effort on headlights b/c I want to be able to see the trail when I'm bombing rocky singletrack at 20-30 mph...but the tail light is perplexing me a bit.

    First off...I respect your decision to be seen. You are intelligent for doing so. I however, have a little different mentality. My commute is not terribly congested with traffic. I spend at least 1/2 the time on the sidewalk...or jumping off the curb. I'm 33 years old...so you'd think I would have grown up by now.

    A few Q's:
    1. Is your thirst for the ultimate tail light sort of a geek hobby like mine regarding headlights?
    2. How old are you?
    3. Have you been struck by a car and are somewhat paranoid?
    4. (this one is important to me) When there's a perfectly good sidewalk / paved path paralleling the street...why do you stay on the street in the way of traffic, risking your life and the lives of the idiots who don't see us until it's too late so they slam on the brakes and get rear-ended by a delivery truck? I just don't see the bother in hitting the sidewalk when I've been told by officers: "Sure...it's the 'law' to ride on the street...but you cause less problems when you ride on the sidewalk, so we'd prefer to have you ride there."



    I have a good tail light, but I don't always use it. Maybe your responses will change my priorities.

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    People don't ride on the sidewalk because they don't care to get killed.

  3. #3
    ed
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    I'm surprised that I have to ask you to expound on that answer...but what the crap are you talking about?

    I thought people don't care to ride on the street because they don't care to get killed. Do your cars prefer the sidewalk or are you living in "gangland"?

    (confused)

  4. #4
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    well, if i only ride on the sidewalk i can only get around the block.

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    It's pretty simple: cars hit bikes on the sidewalk a heck of a lot more often then they hit bikes on the road. Pull out of a parking lot, they look to see if there's a pedestrian they're going to hit, not a bike moving at 15 or 20 miles an hour. Make a turn, they look to see if there's a pedestrian in the crosswalk, not a moron on bike. Anyone who rides on the sidewalk is either a moron or a kid. Anyone who tells you to ride on the sidewalk is a moron.

  6. #6
    ed
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    Gotchya...

    Harsh, subjective blanket statement that's not true...but point well taken. Thanks.


    I imagine that if you're doing 20-30 mph on a sidewalk and just expect to blow across an intersection...you deserve to get hit though.

  7. #7
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I'm in my 40s. 90% of my ride is on rural roads, 60 MPH average speed, very little traffic. Dark or sometimes in the morning riding into the sun. I ride in all weather conditions including heavy fog, heavy rain, heavy snow. I haven't been on a sidewalk since I was a kid.

    I personally ride with a Dinotte taillight, which is > $100, plus a couple of bright aux lights. I have cars coming up behind me in the morning with people sucking on their coffee, in fog or rain, at 60 MPH, with no other traffic so they're not paying that much attention.

    As for the other:
    Sidewalks are statistically far more dangerous than roads to ride in. There are hundreds of threads here about it, and many sites you can go to to learn why. Bottom line is that sidewalks are a good place to ride if you're riding no faster than walking speed, otherwise they're a good way to get killed.

    The most safe way to ride for transportation is to ride in the street and act like a vehicle.
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  8. #8
    ed
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    I like where this thread is going...more constructive...less emotion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    Gotchya...

    Harsh, subjective blanket statement that's not true...but point well taken. Thanks.
    Nope. Completely borne out by accident statistics. Nothing subjective about it at all. Well, I suppose I should add
    "passively suicidal" to the list, for completeness, but that's probably just a variant on "moron".

  10. #10
    ed
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    Quote Originally Posted by dscheidt View Post
    "passively suicidal" to the list, for completeness, but that's probably just a variant on "moron".


  11. #11
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    1. Is your thirst for the ultimate tail light sort of a geek hobby like mine regarding headlights?
    Nope, I get a Superflash when I need one and call it good.
    2. How old are you?
    42
    3. Have you been struck by a car and are somewhat paranoid?
    I've been hit and I've hit cars, not paranoid, though.
    4. (this one is important to me) When there's a perfectly good sidewalk / paved path paralleling the street...why do you stay on the street in the way of traffic, risking your life and the lives of the idiots who don't see us until it's too late so they slam on the brakes and get rear-ended by a delivery truck? I just don't see the bother in hitting the sidewalk when I've been told by officers: "Sure...it's the 'law' to ride on the street...but you cause less problems when you ride on the sidewalk, so we'd prefer to have you ride there."

    Most sidewalks are worse than most roads for riding. One stretch of my commute is a gauntlet of busy business driveways. This stretch of road even has a bike lane, but I still spend a fair amount of time in the traffic lane because a lot of people coming outta Fred Meyer's, McDonald's, BR31, Taco Bell, etc. just kinda coast way out into the bike lane before even looking for cross traffic. Quite a few peds on this stretch of road, too, so sidewalk is generally bad news.

    Another stretch of my commute is about 1.5 miles with about 8 seldom used driveways. It has a bike lane too, but I hit the sidewalk a lot when it rains because the sidewalk drains better than the bikelane in the gutter. I find it fairly easy to be vigilant around widely spaced driveways compared to a driveway every 30-50 feet.

    Oh, and IJM made a good point about speeds on sidewalks. I go as fast as I can, but slow to about 5mph when approaching a driveway, unless it has WIDE-OPEN sight lines.

    EDIT: Threads without pics are boring, so here's a pic of the sidewalk cycling friendly leg of my commute:
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 04-27-10 at 01:32 PM.
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  12. #12
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    I am in my mid 30s. I ride in Miami FL - which has some pretty bad drivers, but really no more traffic accidents than anywhere else with a similar number of cars (at least that is my guess). Everyone here expects things like red light runners. In fact the general rule here (for anyone planning to visit next winter when you are buried under 50 feet of snow and I am chilling out in Biscayne Bay perfectly comfortable and content in my Waverunner and shorty wetsuit, or comfortably riding in Everglades National Park in cool weather gear) is that at EVERY red light, expect three cars to run it. This is mostly true for people turning left. When the turning light is red, three more cars will still go.

    Anyhow, I do a fair amount of riding at night. Why? Well simply - the heat! The mid day sun is brutal here, so if you want to ride you better hit the road really early or later in the afternoon. My riding buddy has a hard time doing mornings due to the work schedule (DJ, works nights, is tired when work ends) so when we ride it is usually around 5 or 6 PM. As of lately the path I take is open only to county buses, cops, and fire rescue - so that is pretty safe. The bus drivers give you a lot of room when they pass. The cops have yet to harass me even if technically according to the law bicycles are also prohibited from the bus way. There is a MUP running parallel to the road I am supposed to use.

    Why don't I use it? It sucks. It is not as smooth. There are little rocks and other crap on it. There are people walking, there are homeless dudes with shopping carts, it is narrow, it is not as well lit, and so on. Bottom line is the road is better.

    I would use a sidewalk if it is wide, in reasonably good condition, and the road it was running next to was a death trap. There are a few such roads with decent enough sidewalks in my area.

    The need for a taillight is twofold for me. First off, it is the law. I could be harassed by the cops - although this is not very likely. Cops generally only harass people on bikes that look like crackheads.

    But the law aside, it is just safety. I do not have a crazy light, just a Mars 3.0. I keep it on flashy mode. Really, it is fine for me - although I want to find the Cateye TL-LD1100 today so I can put the Mars 3.0 on the helmet. I also have a Blackburn Flea white light mounted on the helmet (the flea is awesome for this - it is sooo light it is like it is not even there) that I keep on flashing mode - as well as a Blackburn Quadrant light mounted to the handlebars (preferred mode is two LEDs on constant, side two LEDs flashing).

    Depending on how the Mars 3.0 works on the helmet, I might just use it there OR get another Flea red light and strap that to the back of the helmet.

    The next major upgrade I want to do is a better headlight. The quadrant was fine for when I would just ride my mtb for an hour or so around the neighborhood, but it is really not enough for darker roads I am not familiar with. I have not decided where to go yet, other than it will be LED and I really want something that will let me see that pothole before I hit it.
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  13. #13
    `````````````` CaptainCool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    I imagine that if you're doing 20-30 mph on a sidewalk and just expect to blow across an intersection...you deserve to get hit though.
    If I slowed down to 8mph at every intersection and driveway, it would take me twice as long to get home. When I'm riding in the street I can generally expect to blow through intersections where I have the right of way.

    Okay maybe not twice now that most of my commute is on an expressway. But I have enough problems with people not seeing a bright yellow jacket when they're entering the expressway. I'm not going to give them any excuses for not seeing me in front of them. So, taillight.

    edit: demographic. I'm 26, I commute every day, and I've never been hit, knock on wood.

  14. #14
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I think the answer is between the lines here, to both. Riding in the street is safest, but the drivers have to see you. Therefore, we do what we feel is necessary to make sure the drivers see us.

    In my opinion, I have to assume that someone will be texting or fishing around on the floor for a dropped phone or bag of cheetos at some point in my ride, and will have their eyes off the road for 10 or 15 seconds. That says to me that I had better be visible enough that people see me at least 20 or more seconds before they get to me, so even if they're doing something else and not paying attention to the road particularly, that they will get at least one chance to see me at least 5 seconds before they get to me.

    To me that means wearing hi-vis clothing, a reflective vest, and MULTIPLE blinkers, both high and low (helmet and seat), and at least one of them should be a retina-burner that should be visible from 1/4 mile away in daylight. It should also flash in a distinctive pattern (both Dinotte and SuperFlash do this) so that I'm distinguishable from turn signals, construction barrels, and other such, even if there's a lot of crud going on.

    The other thing that's necessary for you to be visible is to be where drivers are looking. Drivers DO NOT look at sidewalks, they do not look for things coming the wrong way down streets. In fact there's pretty good evidence that they do not see anything that's not actually in front of their car.

    Apart from the extremely rare homocidal rager cager, drivers really don't want to kill you (though a few might like to "teach you a lesson"), so if you're visible, they will take measures to avoid you.

    So to be safest, we ride in the street, and either far enough off to the side in a SUITABLE side path like a good clean smooth shoulder or a bike lane, or we ride IN the lane, and we ride with really good visibility aids.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    1. Is your thirst for the ultimate tail light sort of a geek hobby like mine regarding headlights?
    I don't think I have "thirst for the ultimate tail light." I did get the Cateye LD1100, though, so I suppose that evidences at least a willingness to pay up for what looks like a better tail light, or something like that.

    2. How old are you?
    51

    3. Have you been struck by a car and are somewhat paranoid?
    I haven't been struck by a car, so the answer to the question is "no" in any event (even if I am somewhat paranoid).

    4. (this one is important to me) When there's a perfectly good sidewalk / paved path paralleling the street...
    If it's "perfectly good" I might use it. Perfectly good sidewalks are almost non-existent. Perfectly good paved paths exist, and I use them when appropriate, even if they don't parallel the street.

    Things that make almost all sidewalks, and some paved paths, not perfectly good:
    - Crossing driveways and intersections, as already mentioned
    - Pedestrians are on them most of the time (though not always), and don't want to be menaced by a bike.
    - They're not always easy to get on and off of where you want to if you're not riding a mountain bike (which I'm not): absence of curb cuts, parked cars, grass medians and planting strips, etc.
    - Uneven surfaces, if you're not riding a mountain bike - particularly on root-heaved concrete sidewalks.
    - Assorted obstacles like signs, bushes, etc.

  16. #16
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    53 years old, commuting regularly by bicycle for 18 years, homeowner in urban San Diego, male, Viking/Celtic/ Northern European descent, 29 mile r/t commute beginning in total darkness at 5:30 am. Route takes me on Kearny Villa Rd. (check out all the threads on this death alley where two riders have been mowed down from behind and killed since May 2001). No sidewalks and I wouldn't ride on them even if there were. No class I separated bike paths. In darkness and in daylight I use a DiNotte 140L taillight and a DIY red emergency vehicle LED strobe that was cheaper to build and is brighter than the DiNotte, as well as a PB Superflash and a PDW Radbot on the panniers. During the winter months when I arrive at work in darkness I also use a blue xenon strobe.

    Have been hit once, T-boned by a car exiting a parking garage, but that was at 9 pm, not officially on my commute. Not paranoid; they really are trying to kill me.

    Also use redundant headlight systems: Light & Motion Arc Li-Ion, MagicShine 1400 on the bars, two DiNotte 200 on the Nitto front rack under the handlebar bag, MagicShine 900 on the helmet.

    I find that if motorists have the "What the hell is that" reaction when they see me in the dark, they give me a much wider berth when passing. The red emergency vehicle LED strobe made a huge difference. Coupled with the blue xenon strobe they don't know until they pass me that I'm not law enforcement. This is probably going to result in a cop wanting to talk to me about it some day, but it hasn't been a problem yet.

    Southern California drivers have a mean streak a meter wide and if they recognize it's a cyclist in front of them, many will deliberately make a too close pass just to f*** with him.

  17. #17
    I am a caffine girl colleen c's Avatar
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    Please allow me to shed some light on this subject. Tail light was never a hobby for me. The closes thing to hobby in this matter is a hobby of staying alive. It's hard to imagine just how it feels to be seen unless the paranoid factor kicks in. I'm in the 40's. Back in my early 20's, I had an incident that hunts me everytime I have a close call.

    When I was about 20, I was looking driving 15mph looking for an empty parking spot where all spot are the perpendicular parking type and not parrallel. There was this guy riding a 10speed bike fairly fast on the sidwalk as I past him. There were a group of people who just got out of the car and blocked the sidewalk. The bicyclist got off the sidewalk and was riding on the street on my right but I did not realise he was on the street. I saw a vacant space and turn my car right to enter the space. It just so happen that this cyclist had sped up to past me on the right at the same time. He hit my front wheel flying over my hood landing on the ground on the other side of my car. He rolled twice before coming to a dead stop. I swear to God he must be dead. Heavan was on his side that day and he must have been super man, because he got up. We talked and since my car was a beater car and his steel bike suffer minimum damage, we went our seperate ways.

    Fast fwd, 15 years later. I was pulling out of a driveway from a gas station. I started looking left for cars. This cyclist on the sidewalk riding the wrong way almost crashed into me. He avoided the collision by swerving front of my car into the road. He almost lost balance when his wheel sidewall caught the step from the driveway. Cars screech to a dead stop arm distant from smashing him.

    I live with those close call image all my life and I know better and avoid riding sidewalk as much as possible. Here we have two incident where it happen during daylight and where the cyclist have a better view of what's going to happen. However, you don't get that advantage when cars are approaching from behind you while on the steet. That's why there is the need for good tail light so that you can stay off the sidewalk and stay alive.

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    Definitely OCD on the taillights.....but much of that was born out of an incident with a motorcycle rider who stopped in the middle of the highway and chewed my ass because he couldn't see me well enough from behind. Dude was about 400 pounds. I wasn't about to argue. And ever since then I could make a video called "Blinkies Gone Wild".

  19. #19
    Fred J.G. dwilbur3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    ...
    1. Is your thirst for the ultimate tail light sort of a geek hobby like mine regarding headlights?
    2. How old are you?
    3. Have you been struck by a car and are somewhat paranoid?
    4. (this one is important to me) When there's a perfectly good sidewalk / paved path paralleling the street...why do you stay on the street in the way of traffic, risking your life and the lives of the idiots who don't see us until it's too late so they slam on the brakes and get rear-ended by a delivery truck?...
    1) No I have a Cateye L1100 and it works fine.
    2) 50 with a wife and 7 year old kid . They need me to come home safe every day.
    3) Never been hit. Not especially paranoid.
    4) I use the sidewalk or whatever else I think is safest. But sometimes the street is WAY safer. I have one long stretch on a suburban street. It has 3 or 4 driveways per block, sprinkers, kid's toys, people walking their dogs, etc. Being on that sidewalk would be nuts.

  20. #20
    Fred J.G. dwilbur3's Avatar
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    I do not belong to the Evangelical Fundamentalist Church of Never Ride on a Sidewalk.

    In most cases you'd be better off on the street. But there are real exceptions. Make your best judgment based on the circumstances. But things like commercial driveways and pedestrian traffic are strong indicators that the sidewalk is not the place to be.

    And I generally like riding on multi-use paths. (Tho some of them aren't a good idea either. Especially the narrow, windy ones.)

    But none of that would encourage me to ride at night without a tail-light. That's just asking for trouble.

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    I am 23 and bought a Dinotte 140-R-AA for my commute to work and I run it on flash-pause-flash every day, rain or shine. The reason is that I commute on fairly busy roads with lorries etc.

    I like taking the lane and feel better knowing that people can see me, even if they choose not to!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwilbur3 View Post
    I do not belong to the Evangelical Fundamentalist Church of Never Ride on a Sidewalk.

    In most cases you'd be better off on the street. But there are real exceptions. Make your best judgment based on the circumstances. But things like commercial driveways and pedestrian traffic are strong indicators that the sidewalk is not the place to be.

    And I generally like riding on multi-use paths. (Tho some of them aren't a good idea either. Especially the narrow, windy ones.)

    But none of that would encourage me to ride at night without a tail-light. That's just asking for trouble.
    Wow, that's pretty much exactly what I was going to write as well!

    And ditto about riding at night without a tail light - that's just nuts. If you're ever on the road, cars need to be able to see you. If...you don't intrinsically understand how a 3,000 pound vehicle can be dangerous, especially if it can't see you...I can't think of any way to explain it. :-)

  23. #23
    ed
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    I almost pissed ma'self.

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    if self-preservation is an instinct you possess..

  25. #25
    Bikus Commuterus CFXMarauder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post

    A few Q's:
    1. Is your thirst for the ultimate tail light sort of a geek hobby like mine regarding headlights?
    Nope I just wanna be seen....from outerspace..

    2. How old are you?
    37

    3. Have you been struck by a car and are somewhat paranoid?
    Nope

    4. (this one is important to me) When there's a perfectly good sidewalk / paved path paralleling the street...why do you stay on the street in the way of traffic, risking your life and the lives of the idiots who don't see us until it's too late so they slam on the brakes and get rear-ended by a delivery truck? I just don't see the bother in hitting the sidewalk when I've been told by officers: "Sure...it's the 'law' to ride on the street...but you cause less problems when you ride on the sidewalk, so we'd prefer to have you ride there."

    Spend 1.2 hour on any residential street or at the entrance/exit to a subdivision and count the number of cars that stop BEFORE crossing the path of the sidewalk..I'll bet you 99% of the cars you see never stop till they reach the roadway and not at the stopsign which is BEFORE the sidewalk..People People backing out look into the road and NOT at the sidewalk.. My stepson learned this on both his first and second commute with me..As we were coming down a hill in the roadway he said to me

    Him : "We dont even ride on the sidewalk here?"

    Me: Nope..Stay two feet left from the fog line and as you approach the intersection of a sidestreet or subdivision you need to check your rear and if clear mover over left even farther before crossing the intersection.

    Him: Why?

    Me: Because Dana ...Most people don't stop until they absolutely have to...They zip right through the stop sign and come to a quick stop at the street..

    Less that a minute later as we approached a subdivision I called out to him that the rear was clear and to move left..No sooner had he done so when a small truck went through the stop sign and quick stopped at the street...Maybe 4-5 feet from him...Had he been on the sidewalk he would have been struck before the truck came to a stop..either would have been Tbone the car or get mowed down..Same thing happened the next night and happens almost weekly on his trip with me, im glad he had that scare because I could see that it botherd him to ride in the road when there was a sidewalk and I knew if he ever commuted home from work without me he would most certainly use the sidewalk..He learned real quick that proper road position and having your head on a swivel can save your butt..I do not allow my children to ride on the sidewalk..


    I have a good tail light, but I don't always use it. Maybe your responses will change my priorities.
    Ride to be seen at all times !!!

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