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Please use lights all the time!

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Please use lights all the time!

Old 09-15-22, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Mtracer
I'd have to see the results of a well designed study showing lights as a detrimental, before I would believe they were. Modern daytime lights are very bright and can literally be seen for a mile or more. I'm confident they make me easier to see and therefore safer. Do, I have a well designed study to prove this, no. But some common sense can be applied. Almost no one runs into something they can see and otherwise avoid (except my daughter, who parks using the braille technique).

I'd say easily 99+% of vehicles coming up behind me make some effort to give me more room when passing. I doubt the few, that don't give me more room, are because they didn't see me. Rather, they just don't think it is necessary to give me more room. And of course, some people are just idiots. After all, plenty of people in cars hit other cars.

I use a bright flasher in the front and a reasonably bright rear in the Garmin radar unit. I also almost always wear a hi-viz yellow jersey and socks. I think my white helmet is pretty easy to see as well.

Does this mean all drivers will notice me all the time? Of course not, it's very common for drivers to only see the things they are used to seeing where they are used to seeing them. I.E., other vehicles. We all are like this. It's the way our brains work to maximize efficiency. This of course is why it's helpful as cyclist to ride in predictable ways. When I can, I'll claim a lane to put myself in the line of sight of a car on a side street that might cut me off. They are used to looking for cars that are in the lane, not for a cyclist on a shoulder. This is also why a bright, flashing light or cloths will at least increase the chance a driver notices me.

Simply put, emergency vehicles uses flashing lights to be more noticeable. I'm sure the same principle can be applied to cyclists.
Funny, Germany has out and out banned blinking lights on bicycles because there's no benefit to them and they can disorient other people. The emergency vehicle thing is totally irrelevant, you are not a truck or car, so the bright flashing light just completely obscures people's ability to discern how big you are, where you are exactly, and how fast you're going.

You want some common sense? Tell me how pupils are supposed to constrict and dilate rapidly enough to accommodate the rapid changes in brightness that a very bright, rapidly flashing headlight brings. Also, why isn't the motion of a slowly blinking light of equal brightness not enough to get the driver's attention without potentially disorienting them?

So here's my "common sense" based on experience take on this--strobing lights are great for being seen by people who are too far away from you to be a threat, and just worse than useless when it comes to close contact as the blinding effects grow geometrically worse as you square the brightness every time you half the distance. Disorienting the driver who's going to be turing n front of you is not a good strategy.
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Old 09-15-22, 11:39 AM
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Daytime running lights absolutely DO help looking in the mirror on a divided freeway. Especially with my BIKE mirror.
I play on full speed highways a lot, 2 lane merges included. I wear golf clothes and a green baseball cap 100% of the time. ZERO miles with hiviz clown stripes. My jacket is a rather dull green/ gray.
There isn't 1 in 100,000 vehicles not giving me every inch available passing distance. Doesn't seem to matter if I'm on the lighted bike or not. Only one tail light on the rack and the front light is on the right fork so the light twinkles on the spokes and doesn't blind the drivers.
I didn't notice it was any worse on my tours in the US NW.
TOO bright lights are absolutely more dangerous, especially helmet lights.
For 35 years before I got dyno powered lights, I mostly had nothing. So I rode like I was invisible.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 09-15-22 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 12-01-22, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Gear_Admiral
Hear, hear. I also will wear the colors, use reflectors, and often use all the lights because it is a small cost relatively, yes, but I mostly do these things for liability -- i.e., to legally cover my own butt. When a car inevitably does hit me (again), the police and passersby cannot blame me (i.e., they cannot blame the victim).

The lights may make a 10% difference in reducing a motorist's likelihood to hit me, but even that seems generously high. Helmets and lights do make sense, but I hate when people make them out to be do-or-die (as if they are that effective) or worse, when they legislate.


I will wear a helmet. I will advise younger female relatives (e.g., nieces) to carry pepper spray when traveling alone at night. But I oppose legislating these things.

"Oh, Miss, it was unprovoked sexual assault, huh? Really? Why didn't you spray your attacker? What's that -- you didn't even have a pepper spray canister on you? We have these rules for a reason, for your own safety. You done messed up."

Now switch up the words and we see the reality of how most Americans react to cyclists' being hit:

"Oh, the driver was being reckless and was distracted and the road design was unsafe, huh? Really? This driver had a license -- where's yours? He also had his seatbelt on and his headlights on. According to this report, your bike didn't even have a single reflector on the rear wheel. We have these rules for a reason, for your own safety. You done messed up."

When people like the OP over-hype the benefits of marginal goodies, they make it seem downright stupid to not follow their advice and begin to reverse the burden of responsibility and blame from the person operating a 2-ton metal box towards the person who, with the weight of the bike, is 250 pounds at the absolute maximum going about 15 mph.

Even with my young female example, the best way to reduce attacks by perverts is to have women in segregated bathrooms, segregated subway cars, and in segregated showers, and so on. News flash to trendy youth who put pronouns in their bios and think all this is some Christian, prudish holdover: separate facilities for women are an achievement of feminists. Before they existed, women ventured into public at their own peril. Quite predictably, they often felt safer staying at home. Parallel: this is the exact situation for many of the 95% (?) of Americans who *could* use a bicycle occasionally but choose not to because motorists make it too dangerous for them.

We need to stop making it cyclists' responsibility to make themselves seen, to beg motorists to be better. We need to slow down traffic and have fewer vehicle miles traveled, full stop. This doesn't mean everyone in America can trade his or her car for a bike for every single use case today, but it *does* mean that motorists will have to see some changes to their lives for things to improve. Further inconveniencing cyclists will not save our lives.

This convo reminds me of the Silicon Valley tech bros. demanding that bicyclists start installing RFID tags in their bicycles if they don't want to get hit because their precious Teslas and whatever only do well driving in the California desert. Cyclists and legislators have thankfully said, no. This is an inconvenient burden and shifts the blame. "If the bicyclist wanted to not be struck and killed, then he should have installed the RFID tag." Unfortunately, Tesla got the go-ahead to *alpha* test its software on public roads in towns in California, with morbidly hilarious results in some cases.


Real talk:

If towns and/or states/provinces mandated helmets, reflectors, hi-viz clothing, lights, and RFID tags, or if most civilians and police merely expected them, then the only cycling you would ever see is toddlers on trikes in their suburban driveways and athletes in velodromes.

You're so completely full of yourself, it's amazing! You arrogantly dismiss all the highway safety measures I mention. Sheesh, I'm glad I didn't refer to seat belts, air bags, crumple zones or ABS too! I'm sure your diatribe would have been 10 times longer!

So I guess cyclists who wear helmets are self-victim blaming then? Taking steps to avoid injury, defend oneself or other measures at increasing safety isn't "victim blaming." It's common sense and using survival techniques.

You attempt to refute absolutely EVERY safety feature or requirement required by many state vehicle codes. You're amazing! You're all-knowing and omnipotent! You must have Phds in about 20 academic subjects!

Since you make all of your assertions with ZERO factual data, stats, or links to support your assertions, I conclude you're more full of crap than an overflowing outhouse. You're just taking pot shots based on your erroneous opinions and arrogance.

Car lights on during inclement weather are ALL lights on an automobile, not just headlights. No driver needs front lights to see the road during a daylight rain storm. Why would you conclude this is their intended use? Lights in bad weather are to allow OTHERS to see them. And nothing annoys me more than encountering the fifth, sixth, tenth or twentieth driver in a grey or silver car with their lights off in the rain. Drivers too stupid to know they're driving the perfectly camouflaged car in the rain. I'm gonna guess one of those idiots might be you!

Additionally, your argument delves into the absurd: that cyclists wearing helmets induce drivers to endanger them more. One British researcher produced results that indicated this MIGHT be true, and a lot of people jumped on it. Might as well just repeal all motorcycle helmet laws then! Better yet, let's PROHIBIT motorcycle helmets! Yeah, that's what we should do!!!

And this argument is similar to the assertion that requiring protective wear and/or other safety features encourages higher risk-taking by people undertaking extreme sports. So if you were to apply this argument to driving, one would conclude that every safety feature introduced to cars would injure and kill drivers and car occupants more and more.

Whereas, the reverse is irrefutably true: with the introduction of each mandated vehicle safety feature over the decades, lives have been saved. Fatalities and injuries have dropped. Padded dash boards and seat belts were the first. Then came air bags and then crumple zones. Those plus ABS, traction control, stability control, rear-wheel steering and others have made cars safer than ever. Driving has consistently gotten safer and safer per mile driven over the decades. Many thanks go to Ralf Nader and others like him who have advocated for improved vehicle and road safety.

The nay-sayers believe the "consumer should make the choice." Unfortunately, the FACTS and STATS prove otherwise: in countries with less stringent vehicle safety regulations, driving fatality rates are higher. In South America, for example, crumple zones and some other safety features are optional. Consumers are then allowed to choose how to spend their money. Spend $1,000 for crumple zones or a kick-ass stereo? Who's going to spend a bunch of money on something you can't even see, much less enjoy? They obviously choose the latter. And they suffer as a consequence.

To wit, ANOTHER experienced former professional cyclist dead:

RIP Davide Rebellin dead at 51: Tributes paid to cycling star after being hit by truck in horror crash while out training

Leisesturm tried to tell us all here that simply being experienced will "prevent" collisions like this. Well, here's ANOTHER example (in addition to my friend who has 40 years of experience behind the bars) of an experienced cyclist being killed by a driver. Truck driver pulled into his path and ran him over.

So what should a new rider do, then? In their first few years riding, while they're inexperienced, should they just take more risk than necessary? Should they "put in their time" so that they can "graduate" to become experienced, and THEN enjoy safer riding? Because this is what this advice is telling the new rider out there. I say this is complete hogwash.

To new riders, I say definitely use lights! You have no idea how drivers won't see you. You haven't developed the experience to understand how common this is. You don't have the defensive riding techniques needed to avoid the idiots. So the new rider is the perfect candidate for my suggestion to use lights all the time.

Was Rebellin using lights? I honestly don't know. Would lights have saved his life? We'll never know.

But I'm guessing lights would have been a factor in Rebellin's favor improving the odds that the truck driver would have seen him before pulling out.

And if lights are proven to be useless? Then fine, perhaps I'll stop using them. (But again, given all the indicators that lights reduce collisions, I'm gonna guess this isn't going to happen).

Yes, distracted drivers are a HUGE problem today that lights MAY not address. But just because lights might not help me with those drivers, that's no reason to not use them. Lights WILL help avoid other collisions.

To those who've complained that lights do nothing about the phone using selfish drivers out there, I ask, what have YOU done to address this problem? Have you written your legislators demanding change? Have you conceived of and suggested "cellphone whistleblower laws" like I have?

Casey Neistat wants NYC to pass a law allowing cyclists to report drivers double-parked in bike lanes - and collect a bounty. This would be similar to NYC's existing "idling car ban." I LOVE this idea! Since LE is too over tasked with violent crime in the US, they don't have time to enforce paltry moving violations. For example, illegal u-turns in my neighborhood, a $500 fine with points on your license, go unenforced right now. Epidemic law-breaking on the part of drivers and the cops don't give a crap. (Illegal u-turns are ANOTHER good reason to use lights on your bike!) So as a result, vulnerable road users are in higher danger. Red light running, racing on the freeway, egregious speeding are all epidemic right now. We can't get LE to address this high-risk behavior, good luck getting them to give out $25 phone tickets!

Back to my point, I proposed a similar law to allow citizens to report illegal cell phone use behind the wheel. Reward citizens who demand a safe roadway environment, and punish the scofflaws who refuse to obey the law AND take the safety of others seriously.

I've also advocated for much higher fines & points for illegal cell phone. Why? Because while in The Netherlands, I noticed no one illegally on their phones behind the wheel. The cops told me that fines START at 300 Euro WITH points on your license. Gee, the US could learn a thing or two from this novel idea!

What's your suggestion? Shooting down every single suggestion and proven safety regulation is NOT contributing to the safety discussion. It's EASY to be a nay-sayer. It takes ZERO creativity or effort.

Last edited by LV2TNDM; 12-01-22 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 12-02-22, 03:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard
It makes good sense for us to do things to increase our visual conspicuity. Not because we are hard to see, but because we are trying to steal the attention of marginally engaged drivers.
What Paul wrote, squared.

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