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Flashing lights

Old 05-03-22, 06:55 AM
  #1  
soloman
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Flashing lights

Why do people think that shining a bright flashing light in my eyes as we pass is making them safer? Point the damned things down.
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Old 05-03-22, 07:00 AM
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Turn your neck if the Light is Too Bright.
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Old 05-03-22, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Turn your neck if the Light is Too Bright.

That answer might be reasonable on a road, but it's really stupid on a MUP where this is a constant problem. That bright flashing light is actually making people less safe on the MUP and serves no useful purpose there. I need to be able to see directly ahead of me on a MUP and forcing me not to do that is not in anyone's interest. I saw one situation on a MUP where a man's bright flashing light actually rendered the child he was riding with invisible to oncoming cyclists. That was just stupid.
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Old 05-03-22, 09:08 AM
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soloman
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Turn your neck if the Light is Too Bright.
<LOL> ..and that makes either of us safer?
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Old 05-03-22, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
That answer might be reasonable on a road, but it's really stupid on a MUP where this is a constant problem. That bright flashing light is actually making people less safe on the MUP and serves no useful purpose there. I need to be able to see directly ahead of me on a MUP and forcing me not to do that is not in anyone's interest. I saw one situation on a MUP where a man's bright flashing light actually rendered the child he was riding with invisible to oncoming cyclists. That was just stupid.
I rode on an MUP last weekend during my overnight trip. On the way back on Sunday two guys were coming towards me with big azz flashing lights. "Why?' I thought to myself. It was a sunny day without a cloud in the sky.
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Old 05-03-22, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I rode on an MUP last weekend during my overnight trip. On the way back on Sunday two guys were coming towards me with big azz flashing lights. "Why?' I thought to myself. It was a sunny day without a cloud in the sky.

I usually say something, it's a clear safety hazard and not like it's a close cost/benefits call.

I think it's about half and half between people who are surprised and turn it off and people who don't care.
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Old 05-03-22, 12:52 PM
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fwiw - was on an undulating dirt trail last weekend. 1 rider coming from the opposite direction, had a nice little flasher. it helped me spot him at some distance, so I knew there would be a rider coming from the opposite direction, in the near future. because of the trees & turns, it was only visible intermittently. it wasn't too bright, it wasn't in my eyes, it was actually helpful
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Old 05-05-22, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
fwiw - was on an undulating dirt trail last weekend. 1 rider coming from the opposite direction, had a nice little flasher. it helped me spot him at some distance, so I knew there would be a rider coming from the opposite direction, in the near future. because of the trees & turns, it was only visible intermittently. it wasn't too bright, it wasn't in my eyes, it was actually helpful

I honestly don't see the flashing of any kind useful on a path for anything other than a battery preservation measure, but a light that isn't too bright and not rapidly strobing really isn't the kind of light that creates the safety issue. I'd take your word on you finding that type of light "actually helpful". You can get away with a much brighter light on a path if it isn't strobing fast because oncoming people have pupils that adjust to the brightness. The fast strobe defeats that reflex as no one has "strobing" pupils. I encountered two very comparable headlights in terms of brightness on a MUP Tuesday night. I exchanged a pleasant "good evening" with the rider with the slow blinking one, I yelled "kill the flasher" at the one with the fast strobe. He was literally interfering with my ability to determine the position of the person he was riding alongside. In terms of visibility, it pretty much is the difference between night and day and the fast strobe is actually painful to look at.
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Old 05-05-22, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I honestly don't see the flashing of any kind useful on a path for anything other than a battery preservation measure, but a light that isn't too bright and not rapidly strobing really isn't the kind of light that creates the safety issue. I'd take your word on you finding that type of light "actually helpful". You can get away with a much brighter light on a path if it isn't strobing fast because oncoming people have pupils that adjust to the brightness. The fast strobe defeats that reflex as no one has "strobing" pupils. I encountered two very comparable headlights in terms of brightness on a MUP Tuesday night. I exchanged a pleasant "good evening" with the rider with the slow blinking one, I yelled "kill the flasher" at the one with the fast strobe. He was literally interfering with my ability to determine the position of the person he was riding alongside. In terms of visibility, it pretty much is the difference between night and day and the fast strobe is actually painful to look at.
yeah totally agree. here's the guy I mentioned









not sure how well a youtube video shows it. so select the higher res. version with the gear icon & wait for your bandwidth to load ahead of hitting play

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Old 05-05-22, 03:48 PM
  #10  
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I never use blinking headlights or taillights at all on trails, unless it's dark enough where I need a headlight at which I'll use a steady on light. The main purpose of flashing or blinking lights on a bike is to alert drivers of motor vehicles that a bicycle is in the area.
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Old 05-05-22, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
That answer might be reasonable on a road, but it's really stupid on a MUP where this is a constant problem. That bright flashing light is actually making people less safe on the MUP and serves no useful purpose there. I need to be able to see directly ahead of me on a MUP and forcing me not to do that is not in anyone's interest. I saw one situation on a MUP where a man's bright flashing light actually rendered the child he was riding with invisible to oncoming cyclists. That was just stupid.
Agree totally with this. In most cases I have to look away or use a hand to block the glare. Either way adds risk to me and others on the trail.
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Old 05-05-22, 06:59 PM
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The issue of excessively bright lights on the path is becoming more prevalent. I have a high power, compact handheld light that can really concentrate the beam. I am not far from taking that with me to help some riders understand why it's a problem.
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Old 05-05-22, 08:32 PM
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So this is an interesting discussion, I don't think my blinking light is blinding during the day, but I never considered it might be. At night on the MUP I generally angle the headlight to the side when someone is coming from the other direction because I know it is bright (even though it is pointed down towards the road maybe 10 feet ahead). I'll need to think about doing that with the strobe too.

The MUP I ride is about 9 miles long, and it has 26 road crossings. So I use the strobe during the day to be a bit more visible at these streets. There are also many families walking with little kids, and I like it when they see me coming from a distance because it gives them more time to get the kids under control (rather than running left and right across the path).

Mark
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Old 05-06-22, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
fwiw - was on an undulating dirt trail last weekend. 1 rider coming from the opposite direction, had a nice little flasher. it helped me spot him at some distance, so I knew there would be a rider coming from the opposite direction, in the near future. because of the trees & turns, it was only visible intermittently. it wasn't too bright, it wasn't in my eyes, it was actually helpful
I never understood the need for bicyclists to see other bicyclists at a distance.
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Old 05-06-22, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by soloman View Post
I never understood the need for bicyclists to see other bicyclists at a distance.
it's the opposite of being surprised
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Old 05-06-22, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
it's the opposite of being surprised
Be assured that I can see you just fine without a flashing light when you are 100 feet away and that's all the warning I need providing I can see my way. On the other hand, a bright flashing light in my eyes blinds me. If you point the light to a spot on the ground 20 feet in front of you it can be seen a long way off and it's less likely to blind others.
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Old 05-06-22, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by soloman View Post
Be assured that I can see you just fine without a flashing light when you are 100 feet away and that's all the warning I need providing I can see my way. On the other hand, a bright flashing light in my eyes blinds me. If you point the light to a spot on the ground 20 feet in front of you it can be seen a long way off and it's less likely to blind others.
don't pick on me. I'm not advocating or defending bright flashing lights in people eyes. I merely mentioned & showed pics of an experience I had the other day that wasn't bad
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Old 05-06-22, 03:19 PM
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But "flashing" doesn't mean strobe, correct? To my mind, "strobe" means the very fast flashing that can cause seizures and has no place on the streets, although I did have a red back light that had a weird strobing pattern as one of its presets.

By flashing I'm guessing you mean patterns that are between 1 and 2 flashes per second, correct? I don't see a problem with those if they're not blindingly shining into your eyes.
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Old 05-06-22, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by fredlord View Post
But "flashing" doesn't mean strobe, correct? To my mind, "strobe" means the very fast flashing that can cause seizures and has no place on the streets, although I did have a red back light that had a weird strobing pattern as one of its presets.

By flashing I'm guessing you mean patterns that are between 1 and 2 flashes per second, correct? I don't see a problem with those if they're not blindingly shining into your eyes.
I wouldn't be complaining if the lights weren't flashing in my eyes. I ride a Catrike and lights on handlebars are at my eye level and most people point them straight ahead... which is in my eyes. I have been blinded and the best I can do is stare down at my right front wheel, put it as close to the edge of the road/trail, and hope I don't run into anything.
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Old 05-06-22, 03:47 PM
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Lights certainly should be properly aimed. Of course, that presupposes people have proper cycling lights in the first place. (Sadly, far too many simply mount flashlights, or 'bike' lights with a flashlight's beam pattern.) That said ...

As for flashing, I regularly ride on a few roads with sufficient blending-in that occurs with cyclists such that flashing lighting is far more noticeable (and at much greater distances) than lights that just sit there. Can't be said of all roads or traffic patterns, but I find the difference to be striking frequently enough that I always use a flashing one in my arsenal in an attempt to be seen.
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Old 05-08-22, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by msalvetti View Post
So this is an interesting discussion, I don't think my blinking light is blinding during the day, but I never considered it might be. At night on the MUP I generally angle the headlight to the side when someone is coming from the other direction because I know it is bright (even though it is pointed down towards the road maybe 10 feet ahead). I'll need to think about doing that with the strobe too.

The MUP I ride is about 9 miles long, and it has 26 road crossings. So I use the strobe during the day to be a bit more visible at these streets. There are also many families walking with little kids, and I like it when they see me coming from a distance because it gives them more time to get the kids under control (rather than running left and right across the path).

Mark

Blink rate is key. A fairly slow blink rate is definitely enough to make it conspicuous without triggering that whole "too fast for the pupils" issue. Strobing, which I think is anything more than 1 flash per 2 seconds, really makes it hard for oncoming cyclists to locate exactly where you or the people you are next to are on the path.

The combined closing speed of bikes approaching each other is probably somewhere between 25 and 40 mph and the inverse square law means that the blinding effect is incredibly strong right as you are closing.

You really can't tell whether it's bugging other people because you likely have never been approached by your own moving bike. I've had several people be surprised when I've asked them to turn it off, they really had no idea.

BTW, on a MUP, the best way I've found to give parents more time is to slow down as soon as I see there are kids. This works fine. From experience, it's also the only effective protection of the little kid on the bike drawn to you by target fixation. All the warning in the world won't stop a parent from being surprised by that.
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Old 05-09-22, 09:21 PM
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I love it when people suggest doing something very unsafe like turning their necks to avoid looking at a blinding disorienting light. Always make me chuckle. If you are doing something unsafe maybe stop doing it there is never a need for it. We have to share roads and paths with other cyclists and sometimes sadly other vehicles some of which we might not want there and we have to respect each other. If people are having to avert their eyes from what they need to be focusing on that is a clear sign your are doing something unsafe and selfish and that is not good for anyone.

A flashing light is something I would use in a purely emergency situation and so far none of my rides have been an emergency situation. I am not an ambulance or a firetruck nor am I riding my pregnant wife to the hospital so why would I flash bright lights especially if it harms other roads users.
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Old 05-10-22, 06:27 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I yelled "kill the flasher" at the one with the fast strobe.
You should start a thread about yelling at a cyclist.
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Old 05-10-22, 06:32 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
The issue of excessively bright lights on the path is becoming more prevalent. I have a high power, compact handheld light that can really concentrate the beam. I am not far from taking that with me to help some riders understand why it's a problem.
They probably won't get the hint. You'd likely have to stop and explain.
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Old 05-10-22, 06:38 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
You should start a thread about yelling at a cyclist.
What can I say? The damn thing really is right in my face impairing my vision. I've never yelled at someone on a MUP for going too slow or otherwise impeding my speed, but I have yelled at people who suddenly change lanes to set up the head-on so they can veer back (hopefully).. I think those are the equivalent of the legitimate warning honk from a car.

And just to be clear, I don't think this is anything like yelling at people from a car window for being in the wrong lane or whatever. If somebody is blinding me, I am under a direct threat.

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