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Legal question about lights

Old 09-02-17, 11:12 AM
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rachel120
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Legal question about lights

I was digging something out of the closet when I found a strand of lights I had forgotten I owned. I'd like to wrap them around my backpack at night. But I'm worried that the color, an off-white, wouldn't be legal since it's not legal on the rear of cars. Does anyone know if there's a separate rule for bicyclists?
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Old 09-02-17, 12:52 PM
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Lighting rules aren't the same all over.
You will have to check yours.
Or post your location.

Where I'm at, rules state what I'm allowed and/or required to have on the bike.
Never seen anything regulating what I might wear on myself.
I'd assume anything that won't be mistaken for something else in traffic would be OK.
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Old 09-02-17, 01:01 PM
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Here in SoCal, the only lights that will get you in trouble are flashing blue. By the letter of the law, rear facing lights may only be red on vehicles, but any light helps at night. So long as you're not pulsing a strobe as passing cars, cops won't have an issue with you trying to make yourself more visible in the dark.
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Old 09-02-17, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Here in SoCal, the only lights that will get you in trouble are flashing blue. By the letter of the law, rear facing lights may only be red on vehicles, but any light helps at night. So long as you're not pulsing a strobe as passing cars, cops won't have an issue with you trying to make yourself more visible in the dark.
LOL... I actually did use a pulsing strobe for a couple of years... long before the halogen and now LED lighting was available. It was a man overboard strobe for a PFD, which I mounted on a shortened bicycle flag pole.

I thought it worked quite well for letting motorists know I was there... unfortunately in really dark areas, it was rather disconcerting for ME, having that flash flick on and off, as bright as it was.... real "Halloween like."
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Old 09-02-17, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I was digging something out of the closet when I found a strand of lights I had forgotten I owned. I'd like to wrap them around my backpack at night. But I'm worried that the color, an off-white, wouldn't be legal since it's not legal on the rear of cars. Does anyone know if there's a separate rule for bicyclists?
Sorry, no idea where you live. Road regulations are not universal. I doubt that it would be strictly legal where I live, but road laws are not always universal, national, or even provincial/statewide. The lights sound like a good idea, but I can't tell if there are different rules for cyclists where you live
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Old 09-02-17, 01:47 PM
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I ended up calling the police non-emergency number and saying I had a traffic law question. After a few transfers I ended up talking to a state trooper and he just quickly said "You'll be fine." So I don't know if that means it's legal, or if they'll look at it like going 5 over the speed limit and be happy there's less of a chance of scraping my corpse off the road.
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Old 09-02-17, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I was digging something out of the closet when I found a strand of lights I had forgotten I owned. I'd like to wrap them around my backpack at night. But I'm worried that the color, an off-white, wouldn't be legal since it's not legal on the rear of cars. Does anyone know if there's a separate rule for bicyclists?
You don't want to use something that might look like you are a cop or a fireman.

You probably don't want to use a flashing light that is meant to be pointed forward (people can't tell what direction you are going).

I wouldn't use these in place of a legal rear light (which probably has to be red).

Beyond that, I doubt anybody will care.
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Old 09-02-17, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Lighting rules aren't the same all over.
You will have to check yours.
Or post your location.

Where I'm at, rules state what I'm allowed and/or required to have on the bike.
Never seen anything regulating what I might wear on myself.
I'd assume anything that won't be mistaken for something else in traffic would be OK.
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Old 09-02-17, 04:43 PM
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As noted, the states have various laws bout lighting requirements.

However, generally, they specify a minimum requirement, and don't have any rules on what else you might add once you meet the minimum. As far as I know, NO state has any rules on what's on your person.

So, mount a legal light to meet the requirement, then don't worry about whatever you might add, especially if it's on your backpack, and not the bike.
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Old 09-02-17, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I ended up calling the police non-emergency number and saying I had a traffic law question. After a few transfers I ended up talking to a state trooper and he just quickly said "You'll be fine." So I don't know if that means it's legal, or if they'll look at it like going 5 over the speed limit and be happy there's less of a chance of scraping my corpse off the road.
Sounds like tacit approval to me.
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Old 09-02-17, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Here in SoCal, the only lights that will get you in trouble are flashing blue. By the letter of the law, rear facing lights may only be red on vehicles, but any light helps at night. So long as you're not pulsing a strobe as passing cars, cops won't have an issue with you trying to make yourself more visible in the dark.
Blue lights are pretty universal no-nos. However, a few years ago I had some riding that needed to be done in the drunk hours (10 PM-2AM), so I decided to take my chances with a citation and put on some flashing blue lights with hopes that the drunk drivers would avoid me. The drunks I encountered did avoid me, other motorists gave me more room than is normal and the few cops who saw me simply imitated Sgt Schultz and saw nothing.

One possible explanation for the leniency of our cops at that time might be that our small city police department had about twenty cops who were taking up cycling. Either there was a general feeling on the force that cycling is alright, or they might have thought I was a colleague who could legitimately roll blue lights. Sadly, our little cop cycling club disbanded after a short while, which was a real shame.
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Old 09-02-17, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
Blue lights are pretty universal no-nos. However, a few years ago I had some riding that needed to be done in the drunk hours (10 PM-2AM), so I decided to take my chances with a citation and put on some flashing blue lights with hopes that the drunk drivers would avoid me. The drunks I encountered did avoid me, other motorists gave me more room than is normal and the few cops who saw me simply imitated Sgt Schultz and saw nothing..
I've been riding with a blue strobe taillight for almost 10 years. The few times cops have asked me about it, their attitude was always positive. They remind me not to expect miracles and that officers are routinely injured in highway stops with the strobe bar flashing.

Others say they'd rather tolerate my blue strobe than write up an accident report, and one even reminded me not to use them up front and chase down speeders.
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Old 09-02-17, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Milton Keynes View Post
Sounds like tacit approval to me.
I just hope that will fly by a judge if it is illegal and I do get a citation. "But your honor, the state police told me I could..."
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Old 09-03-17, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I just hope that will fly by a judge if it is illegal and I do get a citation. "But your honor, the state police told me I could..."
Sounds like you oh so badly want to find out. Do let us know how it goes. I myself never get the urge to do quasi legal things. The status quo has always worked well enough for me. I instead live vicariously through the many that do like to roll the rock uphill and bring drama into their lives unnecessarily.
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Old 09-03-17, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
..... I myself never get the urge to do quasi legal things. The status quo has always worked well enough for me. I instead live vicariously through the many that do like to roll the rock uphill and bring drama into their lives unnecessarily.
I'm just about the polar opposite. While I'm OK living within the law in a big picture kind of way, I don't go out of my way to know and comply with laws about every aspect of life. I figure that if I'm doing something wrong I'll eventually get cited (maybe) and deal with it when I need to.

IMO the OP has nothing to worry about. I can't imagine a cop bothering to search out a regulation covering wearing lighted backpacks.
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Old 09-03-17, 12:32 AM
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Add to a rear facing red, and front facing white, you are good, as long as those are dominant. Technically, flashing lights, front or rear, are not legal in most places. Don't go ninja, don't go nuclear, nobody is going to get on your case.

US only. In Germany the rules are very specific. American lights are pretty much all illegal.
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Old 09-03-17, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
IMO the OP has nothing to worry about. I can't imagine a cop bothering to search out a regulation covering wearing lighted backpacks.
I agree. As someone who worked in law enforcement, I'm pretty sure she has nothing to worry about. Basically, if you can't find a specific law against something, then it will be legal. And the police officer telling you that you'll be fine I think means that nobody will be able to find a law against it. On the off chance you are cited, I would take it to court and ask the judge to cite the specific traffic statute which says you can't ride a bicycle with white lights wrapped around your backpack. I guarantee it will be thrown out.

But, if it would make the OP feel better, I'd just replace the white lights with red ones.
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Old 09-03-17, 08:01 AM
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I've see some people on their bikes wearing a lighted belt, the light flashes in green. I think your yellowish light is even better and more visible.
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Old 09-03-17, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I just hope that will fly by a judge if it is illegal and I do get a citation. "But your honor, the state police told me I could..."
The simple solution is to look up your state's law. If it doesn't mention anything about lights on anything you wear, then there is no law against it. Any attempt to charge you with an offence has to be based on your breach of specific legislation.

The only thing you have to fear is that your local police have so little to do that they stop and question you out of boredom
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Old 09-03-17, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Milton Keynes View Post
But, if it would make the OP feel better, I'd just replace the white lights with red ones.
I don't know how to find red ones. These aren't removable lights, the strand was made before LEDs became common. It's actually two solid continuous wires and fiber optic material forming balls at different places on the wires.
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Old 09-03-17, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I've been riding with a blue strobe taillight for almost 10 years. The few times cops have asked me about it, their attitude was always positive. They remind me not to expect miracles and that officers are routinely injured in highway stops with the strobe bar flashing.

Others say they'd rather tolerate my blue strobe than write up an accident report, and one even reminded me not to use them up front and chase down speeders.
That's the thing that really makes me wonder... drivers hitting cops with strobe bars flashing, or hitting cement trucks or garbage trucks... I mean let's face it, compared to that stuff, we really are invisible... at least for a few motorists that apparently probably shouldn't even be driving, they are so blind.
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Old 09-03-17, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by rachel120 View Post
I don't know how to find red ones. These aren't removable lights, the strand was made before LEDs became common. It's actually two solid continuous wires and fiber optic material forming balls at different places on the wires.
I doubt they are "fiber optic" anything... more likely, just low voltage "wasp lights," little incandescent bulbs similar to what were used for model RR lighting.

You'll get more battery life out of LEDs... and strings of LEDs are readily available.
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Old 09-03-17, 12:30 PM
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Reflective strips on clothing and equipment stand out more than some lighting. Also non directional lighting might affect your own night vision or that of the bike riders around you which is not safe either.
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Old 09-03-17, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Also non directional lighting might affect your own night vision or that of the bike riders around you which is not safe either.
Other bike riders? Y'all haven't ridden after dark much, have ya? Did most of my miles before sun-up today, barely saw any cars, much less bikes. Have ridden around 8-9pm a few days in the past week, one night I saw a guy on a beach cruiser with a leashed dog towing him, I guess that kinda counts.

I could mount a Luxor light atop my helmet and virtually no one would notice.
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Old 09-03-17, 12:43 PM
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Its within your states vehicle codes.. in Europe more national than regional..

so like in Germany, mentioned earlier, it's the same in Hamburg as it is in Munich , or Berlin.






....

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