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Old 11-03-03, 08:06 PM   #1
claire
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Steady or flashing?

Hi everyone,
Well, now that we're back to winter time, I find myself using my lights much more often. My question is, is it better to set your lights in flashing or steady mode? I read somewhere that the law asks you to have steady lights (at least in Ontario, I think) because flashing lights make it more difficult for a motorist to accurately localize you (or something like that), but flashing is definitely more efficient to get driver's attention. What do you guys think?
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Old 11-03-03, 08:09 PM   #2
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Flashing is allowed in South Carolina on the back of a bicycle, and on a bicycle only. These cars and motorcycles with flashing brake lights have got to go.
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Old 11-03-03, 08:28 PM   #3
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Not sure, but I think the Washington law requires flashing rear bike lights. A flashing light gets more attention from drivers, in my opinion. I've never believed that in a realistic situation, a light flashing at moderate speed, say 2 flashes/second would be harder to localize than a solid light. If it's the law there, I'd like to see the research to prove it.
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Old 11-03-03, 09:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by claire
I read somewhere that the law asks you to have steady lights (at least in Ontario, I think) because flashing lights make it more difficult for a motorist to accurately localize you
That's the latest excuse for not looking is it?

Regarding flashing lights: When it comes to questions of law, which vary from area to area, it's better to ask the question on a local forum/mailng list, or, god forbid, type 'ontario road rules' into Google and look it up for yourself.

see http://192.75.156.68/DBLaws/Statutes...m#P2483_280705 (clause 62, part 17) for the relevant clause, but note part 14 as well. I'd clarify that with the police though - flashing tail-lights were illegal here in QLD until recently as well, but they were readily available for sale and widely used prior to that. I never heard of anyone getting a ticket for it.

I do wonder though - if they are illegal, why are they even available for sale?

Personally, I think flashing is better than a steady rear light. It distinguishes you better from the roadside clutter typical to urban and sub-urban streets. It is also by now pretty uniformly known that flashing tail-light=cyclist, which I think helps.

Last edited by Allister; 11-03-03 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 11-03-03, 09:17 PM   #5
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If I'm on the road, I use one of each in the rear, a steady and a flasher, steady only on the front for me. On our trails I use a steady only unless I ride there from home in which case I had both on anyway!
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Old 11-03-03, 09:45 PM   #6
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Claire, I have just recently read the same thing about a steady light being easier for a driver to discern distance. I wish I could remember where. I have been using flashing lights since I first some them in the 80's and have survived so far.

ANd Mtn Mike you got me curious as to the law so I checked it out Washington State requires only a front light (white) that can be seen 500' they do not even require a rear light just a reflector, you can use a light in conjunction with the reflector. Which means I am not in compliance with the law since I took off the reflector so I could mount my light.

From the DOT website

"Riding at Night - For night bicycle riding, a white front light (not a reflector) visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector are required. A red rear light may be used in addition to the required reflector (RCW 46.61.780)."

It makes more sense to have a rear light than a front light thats were you need to be seen.
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Old 11-03-03, 09:52 PM   #7
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I put a flashing light on my backpack and a steady one on my bike for the rear lights. Let 'em choose which one they like to look at the most.

I just try to keep my eyes open for cars that might be blind to the fact that I'm right there in front of them. Use the lights and keep a wary eye on your rearview mirror just in case.

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Old 11-03-03, 10:56 PM   #8
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Someone a while back posted some survey/study. Said some authority figure resercher type said steady is more easily recognized by motorists. I have always used flashing. Someone posted a reply that they had one flashing and one rear light steady. There is a solution.
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Old 11-03-03, 11:08 PM   #9
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Thanks for the correction ngateguy. I guess I'm not in compliance with the law.
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Old 11-04-03, 02:55 AM   #10
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In the UK they must be steady on the bike (but I think the Police are so amazed by people having lights they're unlikely to prosecute if it was flashing). Personally I use steady on the rack with a flashing on my bag.
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Old 11-04-03, 02:59 AM   #11
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I run 2 white Halide lights plus two blinking white triple LED lights in front and one steady red triple LED light and two blinking red triple LED lights in back.
I have a clear reflector in front and two red reflectors in back. My panniers have four inch long amber reflectors on them, one on each pannier facing rearward.
I want to be seen. I'm not sure if my setup is 'legal', however I'd rather argue with a Police Officer than with Saint Peter.
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Old 11-04-03, 06:36 AM   #12
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Being a daily commuter, I always check out cyclist I see while driving my car, I look to see how they're lit and how well they stand out and how well I can see them. I find the best is the flashing rear red light, I can pick it out easily and have no problem with judging distance between my car and them. I have however come up on cylist with a red steady light and did not notice them until I was very close, the light just didn't catch my eye, in fact, it was hard to see. Myself, I use a niterider rear tail light set on flashing and a cateye 5 light blinky as a backup, I run them both in case one should fail. I have had motorist tell me how easy I was to see even on foggy mornings.
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Old 11-04-03, 07:27 AM   #13
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With the steady light, on a dark road, keeping to the right; drivers coming up fast from behind could initially think you are a car with the left tailight out.
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Old 11-04-03, 08:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
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With the steady light, on a dark road, keeping to the right; drivers coming up fast from behind could initially think you are a car with the left tailight out.
This wouldn't be to the cyclists disadvantage though would it?
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Old 11-04-03, 09:12 AM   #15
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Not at all.
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Old 11-04-03, 05:01 PM   #16
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Just one thing on flashing tail lights. If you're in the market for one, don't get one of those ones with a plethora of fancy flashing patterns. They surely must be the brainchild of some ******** marketer that's never seen a bike, or even been outside, and are a waste of time.

I've seen some where they've got seven or so LEDs, but it cycles through them one at a time, which makes it about as useful as a single LED on constant ie. not very. All the LEDs need to go on and off together, or it's not operating at it's full potential, and you want your tail light working at it's full potential.

The most you want is two modes. Flashing and constant. The only true variable is the frequency of the flashing, and that varies from model to model. 2 or 3 Hz is much too slow from my observations. I've seen some that do this, and they're not very eye catching. Same thing if they go too fast - they start to look like a steady light, only not quite as bright. The best I think is around 5-8 Hz. Most lights I've seen seem to work in this range, but I have seen a few that I consider to flash too slowly. There aren't many that are too fast - I think there was some concern about epileptics having a fit or some such garbage - another one from the panic-mongers I think.
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Old 11-04-03, 06:05 PM   #17
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I'd like to think there aren't too many epileptics driving anyway.
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Old 11-04-03, 07:01 PM   #18
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I'd like to think there aren't too many epileptics driving anyway.
You'd be surprised.

One of my neighbours is on a pension due to brain damage sustained, ironically enough, in a car crash. He can function normally to all appearances, lives on his own, and is capable of holding a job, but still gets a pension - go figure.

This guy drives down our dead-end, children-playing-in-the-street, 50km/h street like he's going for the checkered flag. He's a freakin' speeding maniac with brain damage and a drinking problem, but still drives. Epileptics, from what I understand, function perfectly normally most of the time, and fits can be controlled with medication. If my bonehead neighbour can still drive, I see no reason why they'd stop an epileptic from doing it.
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Old 11-05-03, 07:41 AM   #19
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Rondoneurs USA requires a steady-light for all night-time events becuase it is believed that drunk drivers are drawn to flashing lights.
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