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Old 01-04-10, 03:11 PM   #1
SClaraPokeman
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Lights on a foggy day

This is the first time I’ve started a thread. Forgive me my presumptiveness if it comes across this way, but I want to make a plea to everyone.

On Saturday, January 2, I rode Old La Honda to Page Mill and while Skyline was mostly dry, visibility on this road and upper Page Mill was extremely limited—about 50-100 feet for most of the way. (It was like the lake crossing scene in Ugetsu for you movie buffs.)

Anyway, I was disappointed to see that the majority of cyclists (who may have outnumbered cars this day) were not using a headlight. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to use them at all times, but esp. when riding through thick fog. I noticed several cyclists heading the opposite (downhill) direction on Skyline who were going at a good clip. I could easily envision a situation where a driver exiting an open space preserve lot wouldn’t see a biker until it was too late.

I believe that cyclists who ride without a light under these conditions are showing a disregard for their personal safety. I could understand eschewing a light 25 years ago when the existing technology was primitive compared to what’s available today, but now a good LED system is relatively lightweight and unobtrusive.

Furthermore, from my lunchtime readings of the lawyer column in Velo News, I believe that if, god forbid, you are in an accident with a motorized vehicle (or another bike) without a light when conditions merit it, your legal position will be compromised, even if you weren’t strictly speaking “at fault.”
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Old 01-04-10, 03:58 PM   #2
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You are correct.

However, those people who are not running lights probably don't read BF either, so don't expect it to change.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-04-10, 05:44 PM   #3
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I was one of those stuck in the fog without lights. You think I wanted to be there under those conditions? It was sunny when I left the house. There was a blanket of fog on top which I had to ride through. I was scared ****less and I resent your assumption that I have a disregard for my personal safety.
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Old 01-04-10, 08:28 PM   #4
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This should be under Advocacy and Safety forum ... Okay, starting your flaming ... now!
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Old 01-04-10, 09:11 PM   #5
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I was one of those stuck in the fog without lights.
I never ride without lights.... at least a cheapie white light on the front and red on the back.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-04-10, 09:19 PM   #6
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Sclara, SesameCrunch is right. Not everyone lightless on a foggy day is intentionally asking for trouble. Some are just caught off guard.

Just this morning, I was driving up Hamilton. In the valley and especially near the base of the mountain, there was pea-soup fog, but a bit of the way up the mountain, it was clear, sunny, and warmish. On the way down the mountain, I passed a cyclist. If the cyclist had come from the east, he might have been surprised by the fog, especially since it was after 10am by that point.

Sometimes fog (and other weather) just sneaks up on you.
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Old 01-04-10, 09:54 PM   #7
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I never ride without lights.... at least a cheapie white light on the front and red on the back.
And that would have done diddly-squat for you in those conditions...
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Old 01-04-10, 09:58 PM   #8
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No, it would do something: It would enable others to see you.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 01-04-10, 10:04 PM   #9
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I'm not sure what kind of fog you get in Texas, but fog here can easily be thick enough to require a fairly powerful light to break through any appreciable distance.

There were times today when I could barely see two car lengths ahead of me, and I've seen much worse.
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Old 01-04-10, 10:08 PM   #10
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Light Texas Fog...

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Old 01-04-10, 11:30 PM   #11
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Yeah, that is pretty light fog...

I rode up Montebello Road on Sunday morning. Going out to the climb, there were sections of fog that were pretty thick. Certainly nothing I'd bat an eye about riding without a light in though. Of course, I wasn't descending in it. It was crystal clear up on the mountain. Now, it was quite cold out in Stevens Canyon. I'm sure glad I brought my windproof warm gloves...
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Old 01-05-10, 12:17 AM   #12
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Look at that headlight-less punk in the Skyline Fog (pretty obscured for like 5ft away)!

Personally, I have a red blinkie on the back, and use that when caught in the fog. I don't bring my headlight unless it's going to be rainy or dark. Cars approaching from my front should be on the other side of the road, or I have real problems either way. Cars approaching from behind hopefully see the red light. On descents, I go at the speed my eyes allow me. If I can't see a driveway/entrance, I proceed as if there's a UPS truck about to pull out and kill me (usually is).

So I guess my vote is to have a taillight, and ride safely. Also, blast your earbuds and leave your helmet at home, as helmets are wussy.
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Old 01-05-10, 08:07 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post


Look at that headlight-less punk in the Skyline Fog (pretty obscured for like 5ft away)!

Personally, I have a red blinkie on the back, and use that when caught in the fog. I don't bring my headlight unless it's going to be rainy or dark. Cars approaching from my front should be on the other side of the road, or I have real problems either way. Cars approaching from behind hopefully see the red light. On descents, I go at the speed my eyes allow me. If I can't see a driveway/entrance, I proceed as if there's a UPS truck about to pull out and kill me (usually is).

So I guess my vote is to have a taillight, and ride safely. Also, blast your earbuds and leave your helmet at home, as helmets are wussy.
I would guess his sunglasses weren't doing him a whole lot of good there either . My prescription glasses were covered in 2 minutes with water droplets, hindering more than helping. Add the fact that there's not much of a shoulder on Skyline and it made for a scintillating time ...

Yeah, I decided after that ride that I would bring blinkies on every ride. I see more and more people doing that now regardless.
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Old 01-05-10, 09:19 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
Personally, I have a red blinkie on the back, and use that when caught in the fog. I don't bring my headlight unless it's going to be rainy or dark. Cars approaching from my front should be on the other side of the road, or I have real problems either way. Cars approaching from behind hopefully see the red light. On descents, I go at the speed my eyes allow me. If I can't see a driveway/entrance, I proceed as if there's a UPS truck about to pull out and kill me (usually is).
I had pretty much the exact same experience on Franklin Canyon round to McEwen Rd on Sunday. Like our good man Ygduf, I always have my rear blinky so that was going full pelt. Fortunately I was wearing contact lenses that day, so I ditched the glasses after about 30 seconds.
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Old 01-05-10, 01:04 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by SClaraPokeman View Post
This is the first time I’ve started a thread. Forgive me my presumptiveness if it comes across this way, but I want to make a plea to everyone.

On Saturday, January 2, I rode Old La Honda to Page Mill and while Skyline was mostly dry, visibility on this road and upper Page Mill was extremely limited—about 50-100 feet for most of the way. (It was like the lake crossing scene in Ugetsu for you movie buffs.)

Anyway, I was disappointed to see that the majority of cyclists (who may have outnumbered cars this day) were not using a headlight. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to use them at all times, but esp. when riding through thick fog. I noticed several cyclists heading the opposite (downhill) direction on Skyline who were going at a good clip. I could easily envision a situation where a driver exiting an open space preserve lot wouldn’t see a biker until it was too late.

I believe that cyclists who ride without a light under these conditions are showing a disregard for their personal safety. I could understand eschewing a light 25 years ago when the existing technology was primitive compared to what’s available today, but now a good LED system is relatively lightweight and unobtrusive.

Furthermore, from my lunchtime readings of the lawyer column in Velo News, I believe that if, god forbid, you are in an accident with a motorized vehicle (or another bike) without a light when conditions merit it, your legal position will be compromised, even if you weren’t strictly speaking “at fault.”
First time poster here so I'm not sure if I'm doing this right beut here it goes:

About lights during fog, I couldn’t agree more, but I would go one step further.


I think lights make you safer even in bright clear days, that’s right, especially blindly sunny days.


Have you found yourself driving on a curvy mountain road on a nice bright sunny weekend day, you have your sunglasses on because it’s so bright, the road is twisting in all direction, in some of those directions the sun maybe just in your eyes, you haven’t clean your windshield in couple of weeks, and although not dirty it gets a bit harder to see with the sun shinning on it, and you’re enjoying yourself, few cars on the road, the music is playing and you’re “testing” your cars performance around all these corners.

Here comes the problem, some of these corners are totally shaded and you often go from blinding brightness, sun in your eyes places to total shade. One’s eyes, at least mine, take few sec to adjust from the brightness to shade, enough time to take several bicyclist out if they happened to be at the wrong place.



My light of choice is a dual blinking red Dinotte taillight putting out 400 lumens, if I’m anywhere inside the peripheral vision of the driver I believe I will almost certainly be seen, of course I also have my front lights on, but here I wanted to point out the significance of a strong taillight even under conditions that you thing you don’t need any lighting. About good, strong lights in general, I have found that I get much more “respect” (in other words room), from cars since I’ve switched to good lights, not to mention night biking, one of my favorite, is also so much more fun when you can clearly see where you’re going.



My 400 lumen taillight:

http://store.dinottelighting.com/sha...unt2=474647164

I realize this is an expensive light, but any light is better than none.
Finally, ask yourself, if you already own some lights why not carry them with you and use them? there is a bit more weigh but hey, you get a better workout :-) , you can always leave them home on your "race" day. If you don't have any lights, I hope these posts help you decide if you should get some

My saying is that: One should try to control the risks that can be controlled, there plenty of uncontrollable ones.
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Old 01-05-10, 02:06 PM   #16
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Personally, I have a red blinkie on the back, and use that when caught in the fog. I don't bring my headlight unless it's going to be rainy or dark. Cars approaching from my front should be on the other side of the road, or I have real problems either way. Cars approaching from behind hopefully see the red light. On descents, I go at the speed my eyes allow me. If I can't see a driveway/entrance, I proceed as if there's a UPS truck about to pull out and kill me (usually is).
Maybe you forgot that cars pass (all the time) in the opposite lane on a road like Skyline? Why not give them a chance to see you before making that decision? If they're going to pass, it's going to happen very quickly and they will be moving fast.
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Old 01-05-10, 02:07 PM   #17
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I don't mind the weight of a headlight, but I've yet to find one that doesn't rattle, eat batteries, or annoy me in some other little way. I stick to the right-hand side of the road and take responsibility for my own safety. If I get hit head-on by a car going the wrong way on my side of the road, tell my family that a headlight probably wouldn't have woken the sleeping driver.
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Old 01-05-10, 05:23 PM   #18
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On the morning in question, I was barely seeing car headlights. Serious. It was that thick. No little battery LED bike light was going to do much good.

I went from Alpine all the way to 84. It wasn't until I descended 84 West a ways before I got out of the fog. 9 miles. Scariest ride I have ever been on. The smart thing for me would have been to turn around and go back down West Alpine, then stop by MsIncredible's house for hot chocolate or something.... :-)
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Old 01-05-10, 05:43 PM   #19
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I don't mind the weight of a headlight, but I've yet to find one that doesn't rattle, eat batteries, or annoy me in some other little way. I stick to the right-hand side of the road and take responsibility for my own safety. If I get hit head-on by a car going the wrong way on my side of the road, tell my family that a headlight probably wouldn't have woken the sleeping driver.
Here is your answer.
I've had one for a month now and this baby lasts for 3 hours on high, plenty bright and is as quiet as a dog fart. Except it doesn't stink.
edit: If you are a weight weenie, its only 130 grams.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:05 PM   #20
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I went from Alpine all the way to 84. It wasn't until I descended 84 West a ways before I got out of the fog. 9 miles. Scariest ride I have ever been on. The smart thing for me would have been to turn around and go back down West Alpine, then stop by MsIncredible's house for hot chocolate or something.... :-)
I have some on hand...next time!
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Old 01-05-10, 07:17 PM   #21
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Check those out, the 1200L is brighter than my car's lights, and... more expensice, but, it's worth it. Just my opinion.

http://www.dinottelighting.com/
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Old 01-05-10, 09:44 PM   #22
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I wonder just what kind of lights folks in the San Joanquin valley use when the Tule fog becomes thick like pea soup?

I own a MS light and it is very bright and cheap, but something like that may get glare back from the fog. Haven't tested it in the fog yet, but one day I will when it gets me by surprise.
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Old 01-06-10, 02:54 AM   #23
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Here is your answer.
I've had one for a month now and this baby lasts for 3 hours on high, plenty bright and is as quiet as a dog fart. Except it doesn't stink.
edit: If you are a weight weenie, its only 130 grams.
Cygolite Milion 200
Nice light. I like the all-in-one package. I have their Trion 600 light and it's great.
I put my old DiNotte 200 light on my helmet for an MTB ride and honestly, it balances better to
have the battery at the back of the helmet and the light on the front. I don't think I'd like having
just the light on the front making the helmet front heavy.
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Old 01-06-10, 09:53 PM   #24
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I agree with the OP, if you always have lights with you then you never need be caught without them. You never know when you're going to be out later than expected or be caught in a bank of coastal fog. I many cases, lights are still going to be at least somewhat effective in any but the thickest tule fog or icy fog like a friend of mine encounters all the time where he lives in the Sierras. Do you turn off your car headlights as soon as you hit some fog? I certainly hope not! Yes, a cheap light may not be the greatest but better lights can be had for reasonable prices. Planet Bike's Superflash is an excellent tail light and I've heard great things about the Cherry Bomb as well. For a headlight, I recommend the 1/2-watt or 1-watt Blaze.

I've also seen mounts you can attach to your fork legs for a light, so it will shine down under the fog, sort of like car fog lights. Not sure how effective it is, but it's got to be better than nothing!
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Old 01-07-10, 02:31 PM   #25
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Reaction to reactions

I’m glad to see that if nothing else I started a bit of a debate with my “editorial.” Thanks for the feedback!

I angered someone, bored another, was subject to good-natured mockery, had one questioning the appropriateness of the posting’s location, and had several people more or less agree (gratifying).

I do apologize to Sesame Crunch for perhaps being a bit overwrought; I realize that you don’t really influence people when you (inadvertently) insult them and my ambition was really to get people thinking about behavior modification.

Without using lights, I’ve safely come back from hundreds of trips to Skyline over the past 25 years. I understand riding a bicycle there isn’t a B-29 mission over Germany. But after using lights I’m never going to go back to my old ways. There’s too many locations where they make me feel more secure: think about the Highway 9/Sanborn or Highway 35/84 intersections or the situations whenever you get caught in sketchy light.

One other point, if you’re like me, you may ride your bike up to Skyline 50 or more times in a year and drive up 0-2 times. The only time I drove up last year did give me an interesting perspective—bikes on a fast moving road can appear and disappear like apparitions— and yes my old eyes peering through my less than pristine windshield did notice bikes with lights a second or two quicker.

Lights are really impressive now days and I hope some of you on the fence people will consider them.
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