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Old 04-26-12, 11:11 AM   #1
Richard Cranium
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Is it possible to inform cyclists about annoying bicycle lighting?

Now that technology has given virtually any old "schmo" the ability to outfit their bicycle with blinding bicycle lighting products is there any chance that bicycle lighting manufacturers can effectively stress how important it is to operate their lights correctly? Or will it be just another case of technology being abused by mostly thoughtless, perverted or just plain ignorant people?

This thread is for anyone who has an idea, a slogan, or any other mental "cattle prod" that could somehow steer bicycle users into giving a "hoot" when using their lights on bicycle trails or area where they directly blinding or otherwise disturbing pedestrians.

It has already become apparent to me, when using local urban bicycle trails that most riders turn on front flashing lights that aim directly at all the trail users they encounter. This has added yet another negative aspect to using some of these trails late into the evening.

I can only imagine it will continue to grow as a problem and annoyance. Will bicycle lights eventually create safety issues among the trail-using cycling public?

Your thoughts and comments on this matter are requested.
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Old 04-26-12, 11:40 AM   #2
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My wife and I ride the SRT. Most of the time we try to get back to the car at dusk. Sometimes that is not possible. We do several miles through a national park that until recently was over run by deer. Herds of 20 to 30 deer along and on the trail were not unusual. We stared with little lights that would illuminate the rail surface for about 20 feet in front of our bicycles. The trees along the trail blot out and light reflected from above. We had a number of incidents where startled running deer almost ran into one of us. Then there are people walking dogs with no blinkies on their clothing and no reflective clothing. Using a difference in the degree of blackness to tell where the trail's asphalt surface is very the grass or gravel trail borders to guide them. Then there are the skaters lacking reflective clothing or blinkies. Then a couple on recumbents rolling on the trail sans lights or reflective clothing. My wife limits her speed to about 8 mph after dark for safety.
Last summer two women on skates gave us some crap about our lights blinding them. At 50 feet you simply could not see them in the dark. Dark non reflective clothing and no blinkies. tried to lecture us on trail safety that our lights blinded them. I pointed out that if they followed trail rules so that they could be seen more than 50 feet away we would gladly turned down the amount of light off our bikes.

Are we going to have collisions with deer and other trail users who don't want to use reflective clothing or blinkies? I think not. The light issue works both ways.
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Old 04-26-12, 12:03 PM   #3
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I know nothing about trail/MUP riding since there is no such thing where I live. As for riding on the road, I'll stop turning my lights up to maximum when I am confident that I can do so and not have the car with my name on it "not see me"

With my current lighting setup, an original MagicShine (450 lumens, no cutoff) on full brightness, I have had cars with clear lines of visibility for 1/2 mile, no distractions at all and me wearing neon green reflective wear "not see me" and pull out and hit me. Clearly I need even more light.

If I were riding on an MUP I imagine that I'd turn my lights down considerably. I already do if I'm out on lonely stretches where I can ride for 20 minutes and not see anyone else.
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Old 04-26-12, 12:15 PM   #4
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With my current lighting setup, an original MagicShine (450 lumens, no cutoff) on full brightness, I have had cars with clear lines of visibility for 1/2 mile, no distractions at all and me wearing neon green reflective wear "not see me" and pull out and hit me. Clearly I need even more light.
Disclaimer - I do not ride on MUPs, I ride only on the roads, where there are mostly motor vehicles, and few other cyclists...

I too have obnoxiously bright lights - both steady and blinking front and back (Dinotte Tail light, Cateye Loop, Supernova E3, Supernova tail light). It is possible that the lights, especially the dinotte tail light are bright enough to disturb motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. On the other side, the consequences of my not being seen by a motorist is serious injury or death. Given the consequences I am willing to disturb some others to help give myself a margin of safety.
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Old 04-26-12, 12:21 PM   #5
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I'm with WK. I usually run one light steady and a second on flash on my local trail. Reflections off of trail-side signs and objects of the flashing light seem to get the attention of other trail users (walkers, slower riders); the steady light picks up whatever reflective material walkers/joggers have on (usually a few dirt-covered pieces on the back of their running shoes). Too many dusk/dark trail walkers, joggers, dog walkers, day-laborers heading home, and riders have NO lights or reflective gear and are ignorant or clueless of their risk or presume because they see me, I must see them. Even at 15 mph closing speed (vs a slow walker), I want 100-150 ft of ilumination to give me plenty of warning I'm overtaking someone.

If I can, I cover/switch off the flasher and aim my helmet-mounted light away from oncoming riders with lights.
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Old 04-26-12, 01:34 PM   #6
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I know nothing about trail/MUP riding since there is no such thing where I live. As for riding on the road, I'll stop turning my lights up to maximum when I am confident that I can do so and not have the car with my name on it "not see me"

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Disclaimer - I do not ride on MUPs, I ride only on the roads, where there are mostly motor vehicles, and few other cyclists...With my current lighting setup, an original MagicShine (450 lumens, no cutoff) on full brightness, I have had cars with clear lines of visibility for 1/2 mile, no distractions at all and me wearing neon green reflective wear "not see me" and pull out and hit me. Clearly I need even more light.If I were riding on an MUP I imagine that I'd turn my lights down considerably. I already do if I'm out on lonely stretches where I can ride for 20 minutes and not see anyone else.I too have obnoxiously bright lights - both steady and blinking front and back (Dinotte Tail light, Cateye Loop, Supernova E3, Supernova tail light). It is possible that the lights, especially the dinotte tail light are bright enough to disturb motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. On the other side, the consequences of my not being seen by a motorist is serious injury or death. Given the consequences I am willing to disturb some others to help give myself a margin of safety.


I tend to agree with both of these opinions..



I don't ride the MUP and bike trails with ANY LIGHTS. I do ride in give-no-quarter rush-hour 50mph+ traffic. And I tell you what, NO QUARTER IS GIVEN, and not taken. However, just like somebody mentioned, even with my BRIGHT LIGHTS, I have them aimed DOWNWARD, about 25 to 35 feet in front of me.

Most riders with bright lights are RESPONSIBLE, but to come out talk about annoying bright lights opposed to this, is dam right nuts!!!

Just an example of what happens when YOU ARE NOT SEEN. You can be sure if she was running the kind of lights that we 3 run, she would still here!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...092105239.html
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Old 04-26-12, 01:39 PM   #7
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I've wondered if my dual blinking lights on the front are distracting to cars. I've been told they're quite visible. I only ride roads, so my issues would only be with oncoming drivers.
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Old 04-26-12, 03:18 PM   #8
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I have to say that blinding pedestrians is pretty far down on my list of things I give a **** about. I do worry about blinding motorists. I want them to be able to see me, not blind them.
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Old 04-26-12, 03:38 PM   #9
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FWIW, I have been running pretty bright lights front and rear on the roads for about 6 years now, starting with a DIY 20w halogen, moving to an HID and then to the Magicshine. On the rear I had one, two and eventually three PBSFs, then a Dinotte 140, then the Magicshine supplemented with first a PBSF and now a Hotshot on my helmet.

I have yet to get a complaint from a driver that they were too bright, but about twice a year I get a driver compliment me and thank me for running decent lights. I actually had a significant conversation with a farmer at his mailbox one day, his house is on top of a hill and I was cranking up it, he said he wished lights as bright as mine were required equipment.
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Old 04-26-12, 03:38 PM   #10
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If your aiming your light 100 yards in front of you - yes you will be blinding drivers. I stagger my light where the floodiest is right in front of me while I have a second light which is more of a thrower about 20 yards ahead of me. If your aiming them at the road you will be fine.
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Old 04-26-12, 04:28 PM   #11
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I've wondered if my dual blinking lights on the front are distracting to cars. I've been told they're quite visible. I only ride roads, so my issues would only be with oncoming drivers.
Have you ever had ONCOMING TRAFFIC make a LEFT TURN IN FRONT OF YOU? And close too? Have you ever had cars pulling out of driveways after they have looked both ways, see you coming and still pull in front of you? Well, they used to do that to me. Since I have been running bright lights, NO MORE!! In fact, I was almost a full block away from the intersection, but an on-coming car WAITED for me to pass before they made their left turn..In addition, how many cars run their bright lights and don't dim? We have about 1000 to 1 ratio when it comes to cars vs bicycles.. That has to be taken into account.

On the MUP, and trails, that might be a different story, but I commute in heavy traffic in the dark. Not a time to be meek in lights.
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Old 04-26-12, 04:41 PM   #12
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My wife and I ride the SRT. Most of the time we try to get back to the car at dusk. Sometimes that is not possible. We do several miles through a national park that until recently was over run by deer. Herds of 20 to 30 deer along and on the trail were not unusual. We stared with little lights that would illuminate the rail surface for about 20 feet in front of our bicycles. The trees along the trail blot out and light reflected from above. We had a number of incidents where startled running deer almost ran into one of us. Then there are people walking dogs with no blinkies on their clothing and no reflective clothing. Using a difference in the degree of blackness to tell where the trail's asphalt surface is very the grass or gravel trail borders to guide them. Then there are the skaters lacking reflective clothing or blinkies. Then a couple on recumbents rolling on the trail sans lights or reflective clothing. My wife limits her speed to about 8 mph after dark for safety.
Last summer two women on skates gave us some crap about our lights blinding them. At 50 feet you simply could not see them in the dark. Dark non reflective clothing and no blinkies. tried to lecture us on trail safety that our lights blinded them. I pointed out that if they followed trail rules so that they could be seen more than 50 feet away we would gladly turned down the amount of light off our bikes.

Are we going to have collisions with deer and other trail users who don't want to use reflective clothing or blinkies? I think not. The light issue works both ways.
Very good points. Not only that, does anybody have any stats on drivers getting blinded by bicycle lights and getting hurt in accidents?

I think the stats on bicyclists getting hit by cars not seeing them is way, way, way, way up there with out even researching. So, who should be putting the danger sign out? The so-called annoyed drivers, or the bicyclists getting hit, killed, maimed, disfigured for life, paralized for life and Lord knows what else happens when 3000+lbs of steel hits our unprotected bodies. and then we here the famous excuse "I didn't see them"!

I really would like to know.
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Old 04-26-12, 04:42 PM   #13
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I got yelled at the other night for too bright of a light by the first person in a pack of about 8. The last one in the group called out and wanted to know what kind it was. I try to remember to put my hand over the light/hit the low power setting but it was in a winding section of trail and most of them had no lights so I didn't see them coming.
Which brings me to my second point. When we have rid the bicycling world of ninjas I will take up the cause for mandatory dimmer switches on bicycle headlights.

cygolight 300, not exactly blinding.
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Old 04-26-12, 09:26 PM   #14
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So long as people opt for the 18650 powered flashlights, you are going to have this problem.
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Old 04-26-12, 09:48 PM   #15
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Another thing, IMO, is that a lot of people don't know how to properly aim their lights to begin with. A totally Fred idea is to incorporate a built-in level on the side of the light head housing- when the bubble is dead center, then the light is properly aimed per the manufacturer.
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Old 04-26-12, 10:10 PM   #16
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Does anyone really think that being lit up like the surface of the sun is going to prevent the person who just had the bad day at work who is talking on their cel phone not run you over ?

I think that these folks that are looking for brighter and brighter lighting are often missing the point that these people in cars who don't see you also don't see the other cars and pedestrians they run into regularly and your gigawatts of lighting which annoy the piss out of other road users do not provide a magical force field.

At minimum I run a 250 lumen front lamp which provides enough light for me to ride by, often pair that with a 10-15 watt halogen, have a Superflash in the rear and a good deal of reflective gear and have a blinky on my helmet in the rear.

I do not assume that drivers see me or that running brighter lights will get their attention when they are otherwise distracted short of running red flashers and running a siren and even then... I have seen drivers fail to notice emergency vehicles.
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Old 04-26-12, 10:13 PM   #17
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The rules are different for night riding on trails where you need lighting with a wider and brighter throw but these types of lights and non bike specific lights that throw similar beam patterns are not good for road use... my halogen lights are used sparingly as they are designed for off road and have easily accessible dimmer switches as I would not want to be riding in to them on the road.
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Old 04-27-12, 12:26 PM   #18
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Had two incidents in my commute this morning worth mentioning. I am moving down a four lane downtown street in the darkness of the morning. A tractor trailor passes me within 3 feet. He saw me, thank heavens. He was doing about 45mph..He was moving.. The other incident, and this was after breakfast, and the sun is out. I am on 3 lane road in the city, and as the light turn green, I am coming through. A car that was stopped at the light, caught up with me at that next light, and asked me about my light. I told him it was a 3x cree torch, powered by a 26650.. It was on blinky..

Also, when I do have my lights on high, I have them aimed downward, the beam is hitting some 25 to 30 ft out in front. I wonder how many bicyclists get annoyed from cars/trucks taking their rightaway??
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Old 04-27-12, 12:32 PM   #19
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As long as my lights are no brighter than automobile lights they are not too bright. In fact, in our society with so many lighted signs and other distractions the brighter the lights the better. If I could mount standard automotive head and tail lights I'd do it. A similar thing goes for reflective clothing. With all the distractions today it is hard to see people, period. That is one of the reasons why it is more and more common to see all sorts of people wearing reflective clothing who not so long ago didn't.

As far as bad driving by others is concerned we have to face it; there are a lot of self-centered and aggressive drivers on the road. Plus, some, I swear, have a hobby of trying to create collisions. They are not necessarily targeting bikes. But, an unprotected cyclist is a tempting target. My experience is they target almost anyone in any vehicle where they think they can cause the problem and then escape without consequences. Unless you are driving an M1A1 it is just something you have to put up with.

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Old 04-27-12, 01:12 PM   #20
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As long as my lights are no brighter than automobile lights they are not too bright.
That's not entirely true, because in the US anyway, bicycle lights are not really what a reasonable person would call road-ready. They have no beam cutoff, the beam is just conical like a flashlight. That kind of beam would be illegal in a car regardless of intensity, but there are no regulations on bike lights, they can spill all kinds of light straight into other driver's eyes. That's why it's important to aim a bike light carefully to minimize that.

If you get a bike light that's road legal in the EU (Germany at least), then it will have great optics with a beam cutoff.

All else being equal, you're right. I'd have no problem with someone running a car headlight on a bike, because a car headlight WOULD have a beam cutoff. Also if you took a bike light and adjusted it down to where the amount of light hitting a driver's eyes was equivalent to that from a car headlight, again, no problem.
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Old 04-27-12, 01:21 PM   #21
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If your aiming your light 100 yards in front of you - yes you will be blinding drivers. I stagger my light where the floodiest is right in front of me while I have a second light which is more of a thrower about 20 yards ahead of me. If your aiming them at the road you will be fine.
If you are aiming your bicycle lights 100 yards in front of you, you are wasting your time, money and batter power. Even Automobile (low beams) aren't aimed 100 yards in front of the vehicle.

Even if your lights are 100 yards ahead of your bicycle, you won't be blinding drivers unless you are riding on the center line. I, personally, don't spend a lot of time there when riding at night because I like my 3rd dimension.
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Old 04-27-12, 01:30 PM   #22
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I am not aiming my lights 100 yds out either.

In fact, I don't even aim my lights 100 FEET out!!

I have my lights aimed at about 20 to 30 feet out in front.
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Old 04-27-12, 04:06 PM   #23
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I am not aiming my lights 100 yds out either.

In fact, I don't even aim my lights 100 FEET out!!

I have my lights aimed at about 20 to 30 feet out in front.
What are you yelling about and what is your point?? Good god, freakin 70 year olds yelling about crap that we don't care about.
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Old 04-27-12, 09:05 PM   #24
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What are you yelling about and what is your point?? Good god, freakin 70 year olds yelling about crap that we don't care about.
"WE????" Speak for yourself! Personally I had no problems understanding his point. Yours, on the other hand - completely escaped me.
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Old 04-27-12, 09:22 PM   #25
10 Wheels
Galveston County Texas
 
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Location: In The Wind
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Originally Posted by pick View Post
What are you yelling about and what is your point?? Good god, freakin 70 year olds yelling about crap that we don't care about.
I am 70 years old sonny boy.
I care about returning home safe from every ride.

Now using 3 @ 18650 head lights and a very bright IXON IQ.

So ride safe and take care. You might even be 70 someday.
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Last edited by 10 Wheels; 04-27-12 at 09:40 PM.
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