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Thread: Side visibility

  1. #1
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    Side visibility

    What are you all's picks for side visibility? There are two issues I'm trying to solve:

    1. There is a stop sign or traffic light on every corner of my 10 mile RT daily commute. Cars rolling through the stop signs and pedestrians wandering into the street is a constant issue. I would like to give those folks one more visual reminder (in addition to my head and tail lights) that I'm there.

    2. More importantly, I take my kids to daycare in a trailer. I've covered the thing in reflective tape, but I'd like some active lighting on the sides of the trailer as well to increase the kids' visibility.

    Last year I loaded up the bikes and trailer with these--http://www.niteize.com/product/SpokeLit.asp--but they had a 100% mortality rate (even if they were still functioning, they became so begrimed by Philly's streets that the light housing is now permanently a dark gray). They definitely worked well for stopping pedestrians and helped a lot at stop sign intersections. Both bike and trailer are parked outside so lights that are either very easy to remove and take with me or very difficult to remove and thus safe(r) on the bike/trailer all day would be preferred.

  2. #2
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    I used to have a Down Low Glow. It is a long skinny tube light mounted on the underside of the downtube. It throws (threw, I killed my battery.) a puddle of light right under the downtube. I noticed that I got given more room by passing cars when I had it working.
    Unfortunately, the lights aren't available anymore. I am planning of getting a new battery for my DLG though.

    I think it is the best choice for a side/rear visibility light. The light covers 180 degrees, so it is highly visible from the side. From the rear it, (at least on my Xtracycle--YMMV) it is kind of like a ground effect light on a car would be.

    Sometimes, you can find them on the 'bay.
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    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    By far my most noticeable light for cars approaching from the side is a strobing helmet light. When cars approach I turn my head and look right at them. They halt immediately. Many here(BF) say that you are 'blinding' them. No, you are STOPPING them. A helmet flash to the drivers eyes should get their attention. I use a 200 lumen Fenix AA light. When it dies I will move to a 18650 battery light @ 400-500 lumen. Works for me.
    Now you also need something on the trailer. Flashing amber might work?? Or a Cygolight Hotshot. I use the Cygolight and it is bright, charges at the computer and easily removed from its holder. Put them as high as possible for the cars to see. Whatever you use make sure it is flashing and aimed properly.

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    For general side visibility I have been looking at a few options:

    1. I have been eyeing the Light and Motion urban lights that have the side yellow lights on the headlight and tail light. I have seen quite a few commuters using them on their bikes and the yellow lights are quite noticeable from the side.
    2. A helmet light seems effective to "signal" to a car or pedestrian you are there, but unless you turn and look at them its not much more effective then normal headlights.
    3. reflective tape, which only works well if there is light to relect.

    As for the trailer, I saw the best trailer light earlier this week - it looked like one of those orange flags and poles that some people put on their trailers, but was really like a red led string light. Lots of lights waving in the air above the trailer made it very visable from back and side! Not sure if it was a stock product or they guy made it.

  5. #5
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    helmet light. Nothing beats being able to flash them right in the face with a few hundred lumens to wake them up.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    I'm moderately satisfied with my two amber Bike Brightz. I mount them on the left and right sides of the downtube, pointed towards traffic oncoming from the sides.

    They're not elegant. I put two pieces of inner tube around the downtube, under the zip ties, to protect the finish. The sliding covers to the battery compartment are slightly problematic. And the rechargeable Eneloop batteries are tight enough that I have to fish both of them out with a small screwdriver.

    But the lights are functional; they put out a flashing amber light which is highly visible to cross traffic at intersections, etc. And the batteries do last a long time between recharges.

    You might have a theft problem with these mounted on a bicycle left outside.

  7. #7
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athens80 View Post
    I'm moderately satisfied with my two amber Bike Brightz.
    That website - it's like they don't even WANT to sell them. No information at all. It just says "here's a light. It costs this much and it's yellow. We're only going to show you a picture of one from far away in the dark."

    How do they mount? What kind of battery do they take? Do they flash, stay constant, or have multiple modes? Is it rechargable? How? Externally, or is a charger provided, or USB? How big are they?
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    How do they mount? What kind of battery do they take? Do they flash, stay constant, or have multiple modes? Is it rechargable? How? Externally, or is a charger provided, or USB? How big are they?
    Two triple A batteries according to the installation diagram and video: http://www.bikebrightz.com/install.html

    And from their home page: Be seen!
    Fits on any bike - Kids or adults
    LED technology blasts bright beams of light
    4 modes: 1 constant, 3 flashing: slow, medium, fast
    Install in less than 30 seconds - No tools needed!
    Increases visibility of rider - adults love it for its safety factor
    Uses 2 AAA batteries lasting up to 15 hours in flash mode
    Light Weight - 2 ounces (56 grams)
    Weather resistant & durable - made of tough ABS plastic

    I agree, the website could be far more organized, it took far more tie than I would normally spend looking to find this out.
    Last edited by randomgear; 11-06-13 at 11:56 PM.

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    It's going to be hard to beat Fibre Flare (www.fibreflare.com) for your needs; simple, durable, 360° vis, securely mountable on bike and/or trailer, discreet.

    I hope all's well! Coming up for Thxgiving?
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    I like the idea of a helmet light. I might have to try that out. When I'm driving at night, I find the reflective sidewall tires extremely effective, and the round glow makes it easy to notice its a bike. When I replace my tires, I will only buy ones with a reflective sidewall. Its not a substitute for a good light, but its one more thing you can do to keep you safe.

  11. #11
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    Tires with reflective sidewalls are great for increasing visibility from the sides. However, I agree with IJM that a helmet light is your best bet. Helmet lights are fantastic for preventing drivers from pulling out or turning in front of you. All you need to do is glance at the drivers to get their attention, and it's very instinctive. I can't tell you how many times my helmet light has stopped drivers who were starting to pull out and then hit the brakes when I flashed them.

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    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Reflective sidewalls are good but one thing to watch out for is that when they get dirty, they become useless. On my route, reflective sidewalls are good for as little as 5 minutes before there's too much dirt on them to be very visible. Sometimes they'll be good for weeks, but if it's raining, the mud starts building up. They're never as good after cleaning as when new either.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    Thanks, everyone! Keep the ideas coming!

    I do have a light currently mounted to my handlebars that can allegedly be mounted on a helmet, so I'll experiment with that. I have to say my biggest concern is people turning left who fail to see the trailer behind me (followed by people at stop signs not registering the trailer).

  14. #14
    Rod & Judy gracehowler's Avatar
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    Topeak has a new fender light idea, coming in December called a "defender".
    http://www.topeak.com/
    There is also a tire pump (presta) advertized in the latest "bicycle" magazine, http://www.topeak.com/products/iGlow/minirocket_iglow
    another idea.
    R
    Last edited by gracehowler; 11-07-13 at 10:25 PM.

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    Senior Member stbtra's Avatar
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    I will throw my recommendation behind a helmet light--especially the vis 360 plus. It has side yellow lights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gracehowler View Post
    Topeak has a new fender light idea, coming in December called a "defender".
    http://www.topeak.com/
    There is also a tire pump (presta) advertized in the latest "bicycle" magazine, http://www.topeak.com/products/iGlow/minirocket_iglow
    another idea.
    R
    Very cool stuff! Thanks for posting those links.

    I think those are both excellent ideas, though full coverage on the fenders would be vastly preferable for my needs. Nonetheless, I'll probably buy both!

    Edit: Oh wait...4xCR2032 batteries for the fender? One for the pump? That's kind of a pain. I dunno, I'll have think more on the convenience and practicality of these. Still, cool ideas.
    Last edited by chaadster; 11-08-13 at 09:38 AM.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    Senior Member mustridebikes's Avatar
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    I have a Bike Glow mounted on one of my bikes and am liking it for these dark standard time commutes when I have to cross a few busy streets. It's easy to set up, although not the prettiest thing in the world during daylight hours (think how your bike would like wrapped in a string of Christmas lights). I'm still on my original set of AA batteries and use it for about an hour five days a week. You could easily wrap one or two around a trailer for a full on light show if you felt like it.

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    I really like the reflective stickers from RydeSafe. They're supposedly the same material used for police cars and ambulances. I bought some when it was a kickstarter and some more for my new bike. I bought some in black and my LBS mechanic didn't even notice them until he was wiping down the frame and the rag caught (he didn't look too hard, though). Here's some pictures. They're actually brighter in person.

    2013-10-11 23.54.16.jpg2013-10-23 14.35.12.jpg2013-10-23 14.45.56.jpg2013-10-11 23.56.45.jpg

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    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Check out this post. He put 3M type reflective stuff on his bike frame, spokes everywhere. Seems the newest material doesn't block the bikes original color.
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-down-the-road...

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My Parka is what has the Reflective Bits on it wide stripes , Neon Lime Colored Coat.

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    Senior Member 01 CAt Man Do's Avatar
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    I might as well add my $0.02 .... There are a couple good ways to handle side visibility. Most have already been mentioned but my favorites are :

    1) Wheel lights. Nothing draws more attention than a spinning, blinking light on a wheel. I have been experimenting with two different systems but the one I'm leaning to currently is cheap, lightweight and easy to take on/off. They are the Atzoni spoke LED's. They clip right on to standard spokes in seconds, operate in flash mode only, twist for power on/off, no power drain in off mode. They come in many colors and cost about $6 each. They use AG series button cells, three for each unit ( includes two sets of batteries per unit ). A card of 100 AG button cells cost about $6 if bought from China. That's enough to last a good long time depending on how often you ride at night. Note; the youtube vid's don't do them justice. They are reasonably bright and work very well ( *although I've not used them in cold weather yet ). I use two on each wheel and get lots of positive comments.

    2) second runner up, the 3M reflective straws for spokes. If you don't want the hassles of batteries or taking things on/off your bike this is the way to go. Though I don't own these myself I've seen them on others bikes and they are awesome. Since they are tubular they reflector light from every angle. Once again while spinning this is very attention getting. These work so good I'm considering just going with these...BUT the Atozi's are simple to use, cause no balance problems and are cool to look at because of the colors SO... I'll likely keep using them. ( * Oh, the Atzoni's also come in white which I don't have BUT white is always going to be brighter..)

    3) Helmet strobe: Nothing beats a helmet strobe for alerting traffic in your 9-3'oclock frontal zone. Point when threat factor rises and you get immediate results.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieren View Post
    Thanks, everyone! Keep the ideas coming!

    I do have a light currently mounted to my handlebars that can allegedly be mounted on a helmet, so I'll experiment with that. I have to say my biggest concern is people turning left who fail to see the trailer behind me (followed by people at stop signs not registering the trailer).
    Yeah, I'm pretty sure that shining a bright light in someone's face isn't going to help them to see the trailer, or anything else for that matter, any better. I think it might work in some situations, such as when alerting cars from a distance that approaching a stop with perpendicular traffic that does not stop (because they're rapidly 'head-checking' and focusing attention further down the road than where you might be), but at a 4-way stop, I'd be leery of blinding them (or otherwise impeding their vision) before they see and understand the situation. They may see you, ID you as a bike, avert their eyes, wait for you to pass (as a bike, one bike length) and not realize that you're pulling a trailer before they proceed.

    That said, I don't think the chances of a collision in that situation are great one way or the other, and that the greatest benefit is to be gained from being visible to the threats you don't perceive. You simply cannot 'face flash' every car, pedestrian, or cyclist you cross paths with, and even trying is a royal PITA.

    I think active side marking light is the way to go. Reflectors are nice, but do nothing for pedestrians or ninja cyclists blowing through stops.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    Active side marking in action:



    This is half a set of an automotive wheel well lighting system (i.e. two light bars) which I bought off eBay for like $80. I'm powering it with an 8 cell AA pack, which I have in a kit box along with the CPU; the lights have many flash, intensity and color modes.

    The other two light bars I have on my sidecar, and when it's attached, I can easily route the leads to the CPU, giving me all 4 light bars illuminated. It's quite a show!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  24. #24
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    It's going to be hard to beat Fibre Flare (www.fibreflare.com) for your needs; simple, durable, 360° vis, securely mountable on bike and/or trailer, discreet.
    Fibre Flare looks like a wonderful device for better visibility. Thanks for the information!
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Yeah, I'm pretty sure that shining a bright light in someone's face isn't going to help them to see the trailer, or anything else for that matter, any better.
    the problem I have always had is people approaching stop signs at fairly high speeds. Our neighborhood streets often have blockages so that I have entered the intersection before they could possibly see my lights. Since Pennsylvanians apparently think that rolling a stop sign is ok if you don't see anything, anyone that is approaching a stop sign at speed gets a full face view of my helmet light. My experience is that it works great. They can sit at the stop sign and wait for their vision to recover if they have to. I just use a 45 lumen helmet light for this anyway, hurts to stare into it, but it's less bright than a car headlight.

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