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  1. #1
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Amber side reflectors

    I was reading the Pa Vehicular laws and was surprised to learn that in order to be legal the bike must have “amber side reflectors” that are visible from 500 ft. I’m surprised because most bikes are sold with white spoke reflectors and most adult cyclists (me included) ride without them.

    Now, I want to be totally legal, and I think side reflectors probably are a good idea. Cagers see those reflectors going around and know right away that it’s a bike. I think that it would be neat to have something reflective on a spoke that could be seen from the side and (hopefully) the back. So here’s the question. Are there any amber side reflectors that are available but look better than the ones sold with the kids bikes?
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  2. #2
    Conservative Hippie
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    Back when I was doing a lot of pre-dawn commuting I put reflective tape on the rims of my bike.

    I used reflective tape I picked up at the hardware store, but this is an interesting site with all kinds of tape.

    http://www.identi-tape.com/eng-sr1.html

  3. #3
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    sounds like an outdated law put onto the books by lawmakers that have no cognizance of currently available bicycle safety equipment.

    I like the look of spoke reflectors at night, safety first! but maybe they need to be amber and made of carbon fiber to catch on....
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  4. #4
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    sounds like an outdated law put onto the books by lawmakers that have no cognizance of currently available bicycle safety equipment.

    I like the look of spoke reflectors at night, safety first! but maybe they need to be amber and made of carbon fiber to catch on....
    I'm sure the law is old and written by non cyclests - but I want to make sure that I'm legal. I like how the spoke reflectors look when they are rotating and are reflecting. I'v ween the hokey spokes but they are too expensive.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  5. #5
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    Read Forrester on side reflectors.

    Alternatively:

    1. Consider the usefulness of a side reflector that can be seen by a driver, approaching you at right angles from 500' away. Where will you be when he arrives at the spot where you were?

    2. What is the maximum angle the reflector will reflect a beam of light back to the driver's eyes? Unless it is curved, it won't show up in his headlights except a 90 degrees. In other words, until it is too late. That's why you need front lights so that he/she can see you approaching on the road they wish to enter.

    As other posters have said - it was a law created by the ignorant.

  6. #6
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I don't believe Forrester and his belief in the complete ineffectiveness of side reflectors. There are PLENTY of bicycling scenarios where side visibility of bikers is an asset- like, EVERY 4 way stop....

    'flecco tape applied coincentricly around seatstays, seat tube or fork are all visible at close to 360 degrees and make a bike visible at much greater angles than wheel reflectors.

    Wheel reflectors, which still look visible as all get out crossing a car's path, for example, crossing a busy arterial from a side street......
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Bekologist; 01-14-06 at 03:07 PM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  7. #7
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun
    Back when I was doing a lot of pre-dawn commuting I put reflective tape on the rims of my bike.

    I used reflective tape I picked up at the hardware store, but this is an interesting site with all kinds of tape.

    http://www.identi-tape.com/eng-sr1.html
    Thanks, CommuterRun, I've got tape on a lot of my bike now, as well as my helmet (why don't they make the helmet shell out of reflective plastic?).
    I'll have to research the laws more to see what I must do to comply.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  8. #8
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atbman
    Read Forrester on side reflectors.

    Alternatively:

    1. Consider the usefulness of a side reflector that can be seen by a driver, approaching you at right angles from 500' away. Where will you be when he arrives at the spot where you were?

    2. What is the maximum angle the reflector will reflect a beam of light back to the driver's eyes? Unless it is curved, it won't show up in his headlights except a 90 degrees. In other words, until it is too late. That's why you need front lights so that he/she can see you approaching on the road they wish to enter.

    As other posters have said - it was a law created by the ignorant.
    I agree. reflectors are not sufficient - not even as good as lights. Thing is, my bike has lights & reflective tape. Also, I wear amber reflective leg bands on my ankles if I think that I'll be out anytime near dusk.

    I’m contemplating reflectors IN ADITION to all the other things. They do no harm. I have seen the loopdy loop of bike reflectors in my headlights and there is no mistaking that visual cue – you Know that’s a bike ahead. Hey every little bit helps!
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  9. #9
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    I'd like to see spoke reflectors that are a round ball so that it would be visible from any angle. That's probably impractical from a weight, wind resistance standpoint.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member spunkyruss's Avatar
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    The amber side reflectors requirement is ambiguous. The amber side reflectors requirement does not specifically state that the amber reflectors must be visible from the left and right sides of the bicycle, yet the headlight and rear reflector requirements explicitly state the directions from which they must be visible.

    I am not a lawyer, but it appears to me that the little amber reflectors on my pedals satisfy the amber side reflector requirements.

    The text of the relevant subsection of the Pennsylvania Uniform Vehicle Code appears below (emphases mine). The pdf file from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (http://www.dot.state.pa.us/BIKE/WEB/docs/PAbikelaws.pdf) even contains a comment on the relevant subsection, but the comment does not address the ambiguity in the side reflectors requirement.

    Section 3507. Lamps or other equipment on pedalcycles.
    (a) Lamps and reflectors. -- Every pedalcycle when in use between sunset and sunrise shall be
    equipped on the front with a lamp which emits a beam of white light intended to illuminate the
    pedalcycle operator's path and visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front
    , a red
    reflector facing to the rear which shall be visible at least 500 feet to the rear
    , and an amber
    reflector on each side
    . Operators of pedalcycles may supplement the required front lamp with a
    white flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device to enhance their visibility to other traffic
    and with a lamp emitting a red flashing lamp, light emitting diode or similar device visible from a
    distance of 500 feet to the rear. A lamp or lamps worn by the operator of a pedalcycle shall
    comply with the requirements of this subsection if the lamp or lamps can be seen at the distances
    specified.

    Comment: Many car-bike crashes occur at night and involve a poorly illuminated bicyclist.
    Bicyclists should understand that headlamps serve two purposes: a) primarily, they advise other
    road users of their presence (vitally important to prevent unsuspecting motorists from cutting
    across the paths of cyclists they cannot even detect), b) secondarily, illuminate the bicyclist's
    path.

  11. #11
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spunkyruss
    The amber side reflectors requirement is ambiguous.
    Yes, you are right. I never noticed that. I don't have pedal reflectors but I think that I'll get 2 little amber reflectors and stick one on each side - just for legality sake, then light up my bike as needed.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  12. #12
    Fred Zen Kabloink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeR
    (why don't they make the helmet shell out of reflective plastic?).
    They do make them. Reflectek helmets have reflective shells. I have seen them at Canadian Tire(web site) and Walmart.
    Last edited by Kabloink; 01-17-06 at 07:35 AM.

  13. #13
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    I have seen riders with little blinkies that fit over the valve stem, and the light is quite noticeable and distinctive from the side during the rotation of the tire.

  14. #14
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    True retroreflectors (that look like they have a lot of little pyramids inside) will reflect back to the light source up to a certain angle. No need to be at 90º to see them. Try it with a strong flashlight some time. In addition, most good wheel relectors have the plane of the reflector angled to increase the visibility.

    I do at least half of my riding in the dark and think that ANYTHING that increases your visibility is good.

  15. #15
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    This is the only thing I have found that is good.
    http://www.coolflashlights.com/biking-flashlights.html

    Combined with a cateye LD1000 on the rear and flash back bar lights, drivers from
    the side have 1 amber and 2 red reference points. Looks real cool when you drive by a window and can see your profile.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  16. #16
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    This is the only thing I have found that is good.
    http://www.coolflashlights.com/biking-flashlights.html

    Combined with a cateye LD1000 on the rear and flash back bar lights, drivers from
    the side have 1 amber and 2 red reference points. Looks real cool when you drive by a window and can see your profile.
    Which one were you talking about? The first one on that page or the last?

    That's the 3rd time today I heard good things about the Cateye LD 1000. Sure looks interesting!
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  17. #17
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Bummer, they aren't carrying the amber on the top light any more. Looks like won't be available too much longer. The bottom one is new and might work, but doesn't look as good as the top one, and doesn't have a bike mount adapter. Red in the front is not good.

    I wish I could find another source for the top light. They come with an adapter that mounts on the front forks perfectly. Maybe someone can google better than I can and find a new source for this light.
    Hi 'o Silver away

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