Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

User Tag List

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 02-12-12, 03:52 PM   #1
jputnam
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
jputnam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pacific, WA
Bikes: Custom 531ST touring, Bilenky Viewpoint, Bianchi Milano, vintage Condor racer
Posts: 1,261
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Blinking Headlights Legal in Your State?

In a recent conversation about bicycle headlights, a legislative aide asked me which states, if any, allow blinking headlights on bicycles.

I've found writeups of which states allow blinking tail lights, but haven't been able to find a summary for blinking headlights.

Does your state:

(A) Explicitly allow blinking headlights
(B) Say nothing about blinking vs. steady headlights
(C) Explicitly prohibit blinking headlights


Here in Washington the answer is (C), blinking tail lights are allowed, but not headlights.

(3) Flashing lights are prohibited except as required in RCW 46.37.190, 46.37.200, 46.37.210, 46.37.215, and 46.37.300, warning lamps authorized by the state patrol, and light-emitting diode flashing taillights on bicycles.


(Of course, what's allowed by law and what's going to get you a ticket are different things. It would take a pretty extreme blinking headlight before most police would enforce Washington State's ban -- most of the time, they're just happy you have any light at all. But the legality of a particular headlight may play a role in liability after an accident.)
jputnam is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 04:59 PM   #2
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Bikes:
Posts: 15,778
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
I would be surprised if blinking headlights are allowed anywhere. I think daytime use should be allowed. I wouldn't write my state congresscritter to tell them to keep night use outlawed, but I'm not a big fan of blinking lights at night. Got caught by someone on the mup who had a massive blinking front light, and I thought it was somewhat un-neighborly. I'm a little stumped at why someone would use only a blinking headlight, I've tried it and they drive me nuts in the dark.
unterhausen is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 05:06 PM   #3
Chris516
24-Speed Machine
 
Chris516's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Wash. Grove, MD
Bikes: 2003 Specialized Allez 24-Speed Road Bike
Posts: 6,061
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Maryland is B)
Chris516 is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 05:07 PM   #4
Chris516
24-Speed Machine
 
Chris516's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Wash. Grove, MD
Bikes: 2003 Specialized Allez 24-Speed Road Bike
Posts: 6,061
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I would be surprised if blinking headlights are allowed anywhere. I think daytime use should be allowed. I wouldn't write my state congresscritter to tell them to keep night use outlawed, but I'm not a big fan of blinking lights at night. Got caught by someone on the mup who had a massive blinking front light, and I thought it was somewhat un-neighborly. I'm a little stumped at why someone would use only a blinking headlight, I've tried it and they drive me nuts in the dark.
I have used blinking headlights, when I am on the road. I make them steady when I am off the road.
Chris516 is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 05:32 PM   #5
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Bikes:
Posts: 15,778
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
I have a battery light that blinks, and it irritates me to no end if it's blinking and it's not bright and sunny. I guess you get used to it.
unterhausen is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 06:26 PM   #6
Chris516
24-Speed Machine
 
Chris516's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Wash. Grove, MD
Bikes: 2003 Specialized Allez 24-Speed Road Bike
Posts: 6,061
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I have a battery light that blinks, and it irritates me to no end if it's blinking and it's not bright and sunny. I guess you get used to it.
Do you mean the type that uses AA cell batteries?
Chris516 is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 06:40 PM   #7
geo8rge
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Bikes:
Posts: 2,015
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
IMO head and tail light laws are just pretexts for stopping and searching bicyclists.

I look for stories like this snippet.

Sunday, Jan. 22

Bike: Bridgeway and Coloma Street. Subject was warned regarding no headlight. Consent search, nothing found.

http://marinscope.com/articles/2012/...3547184880.txt

In one case the situation spun out of control and an unarmed bicyclist was shot.
__________________
2000 Montague CX, I do not recommend it, but still ride it.
Strida 3, I recommend it for rides < 10mi wo steep hills.
2006 Rowbike 720 Sport, I recommend it as an exercise bike.
1996 Birdy, Recommend.
Wieleder CARiBIKE (folding), decent frame.
geo8rge is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 06:54 PM   #8
AlmostTrick
Yabba-Dabba-Doo!
 
AlmostTrick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Bedrock, IL
Bikes: 1968 Schwinn Orange Krate, 5 speed stick shift
Posts: 5,522
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 459 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jputnam View Post

Does your state:

(A) Explicitly allow blinking headlights
(B) Say nothing about blinking vs. steady headlights
(C) Explicitly prohibit blinking headlights

I believe Illinois is B. A while back after a co-worker questioned me on the legality of blinking lights I searched the vehicle code and found plenty of restrictions, but all were for motor vehicles.
AlmostTrick is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 08:18 PM   #9
CB HI
Cycle Year Round
 
CB HI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Bikes:
Posts: 13,106
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 940 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
In a recent conversation about bicycle headlights, a legislative aide asked me which states, if any, allow blinking headlights on bicycles.
approach, blinking bicycle headlights are allowed in every state with the exception of those that specifically prohibit them. That the legislative aide needs to be asking.

At least OP has a better approach.
__________________
Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

Last edited by CB HI; 02-12-12 at 08:22 PM.
CB HI is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 08:22 PM   #10
IndianaShawn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 139
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I can't stand it for very long but there are times when I do switch on the strobe. I usually turn it on when I come to a very busy or congested area so I don't get hit. Massive intersections are a good spot to put on the strobe but when I'm clear I turn it back to a steady setting.
IndianaShawn is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 09:06 PM   #11
lostarchitect 
incazzare.
 
lostarchitect's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Bikes: See sig
Posts: 6,645
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 37 Post(s)
I don't care. I do what I think is safest for me.
__________________
1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport, 1986 Schwinn High Sierra, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2011 Dick Chafe, 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter
lostarchitect is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 09:21 PM   #12
neurocop
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: SF Bay Area
Bikes: 2003 Lemond Zurich; 1987 Schwinn Tempo; 1968 PX10; 1978 PX10LE, Peugeot Course; A-D Vent Noir
Posts: 428
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I've looked at the California Vehicle Code (CVC) and the only thing I found regarding bicycle headlights is that they must be "white" and visible from at least 300 feet. I didn't find any prohibition against blinking white headlights. There is a prohibition against blinking blue lights (head or tail), as these are authorized only for police or emergency personnel. The intent of the CVC bike headlight laws seems to be that the bicyclist be visible to other road traffic and that the light allows the bike rider to see the road well enough to ride safely in the dark. One could argue that a flashing headlamp iincreases your visibility to other road traffic. It arguably decreases your own ability to see what's in front of you.

I opt to use a flashing headlamp in the daytime and a steady headlamp at night, but YMMV. If anyone can cite specific Cal CVC prohibitions against flashing bicycle (as opposed to motor-vehicle) headlights, please do so.
neurocop is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 09:58 PM   #13
fuji86
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Miami, FL
Bikes: 1986 Fuji Allegro 12 Spd; 1997 Fuji MX-200 21 Spd; 2010 Vilano SS/FG 46/16
Posts: 1,935
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have basically a blinking flashlight up front. Traveling with traffic and not against it, I doubt it really matters. The light I have isn't powerful enough to see the road very far ahead and that keeps me from riding faster. The street lights actually light the road better. I figure mine are powerful enough to be seen and therefore, I prefer to use them in blinking mode. From what I read in FL statutes, couldn't find anything beyond requiring a front & rear light that can be seen at a certain distance. These Zefal lights comply in that regard.

As a motorist, I will relay that a constant on tail light is more difficult for me to see with the cyclists I've encountered. Flashing rear lights actually were more visible as the strobe effect caught my attention when encountering a cyclist at night. I couldn't say whether the Zefal rear light I have is any more effective either way, no feedback indicating which was more effective.

From the literature for the lights I have, the flashing mode increases battery life by about double. So for me, it actually is a better thing the lights flash on and off from a perspective of getting seen and battery cost/replacement.
fuji86 is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 10:20 PM   #14
CB HI
Cycle Year Round
 
CB HI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Bikes:
Posts: 13,106
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 940 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by neurocop View Post
I've looked at the California Vehicle Code (CVC) and the only thing I found regarding bicycle headlights is that they must be "white" and visible from at least 300 feet. I didn't find any prohibition against blinking white headlights. There is a prohibition against blinking blue lights (head or tail), as these are authorized only for police or emergency personnel.
There is federal case law from a southern state (Alabama or Georgia maybe) that a man used a flashing blue light for safety when his car broke down. Cops arrested him and the state convicted him for using the blue light. He appealed to Federal Court and won. The Federal Court said the man had a constitutional right to use the light for his safety and as long as he did not attempt to impersonate police (pull someone over, etc.) or endanger others, the state could not prohibit the blue lights use for safety.

If anyone has access to a law library that they can find the case law, please post it.

I assume that a similar case can be made for cyclist safety in using a blinking white head light.
__________________
Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.
CB HI is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 10:28 PM   #15
jputnam
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
jputnam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pacific, WA
Bikes: Custom 531ST touring, Bilenky Viewpoint, Bianchi Milano, vintage Condor racer
Posts: 1,261
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
approach, blinking bicycle headlights are allowed in every state with the exception of those that specifically prohibit them. That the legislative aide needs to be asking.
Most states ban all flashing lights on vehicles except those that are specifically allowed by law, so that approach won't go far.

But not all states include bicycles in the definition of vehicles, so some states that ban blinking headlights on all vehicles may not ban them on bicycles.
jputnam is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 10:51 PM   #16
IndianaShawn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 139
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I just saw a pickup truck today at Starbucks. All the spots were full and this truck had its hazzards on which were strobing. I think it was a Ford Diesel and it was part of the stock design (not sure though).

Last edited by IndianaShawn; 02-12-12 at 10:56 PM.
IndianaShawn is offline  
Old 02-12-12, 11:03 PM   #17
BHOFM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: NW Arkansas
Bikes: Too many to count
Posts: 757
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Arkansas requires a light at night. They allow the blinking head light during
the day. They allow the blinking tail light at any time.

Quote:
When riding at night, Arkansas law (A.C.A. § 27-36-220) requires that you
have a white headlight on the front of your bike, and a red tail light on the
rear – both visible from at least 500 feet away. You may substitute a red
reflector on the rear provided that it is still visible from at least 500 feet
away when illuminated. The white and red reflectors that come on your
bike from the sporting goods store or bike shop are insufficient; state law
requires that you have active lighting systems when riding at night (reflectors
are passive.)
While a bit off topic, still an interesting read.

Quote:
Summary of Major Violations for Bicyclists in Arkansas:
• Failure to operate on right half of road: A.C.A. § 27-51-301
• Riding wrong way on one-way street: A.C.A. § 27-51-304 (Class
C misdemeanor)
• Moving across roadway without yielding: A.C.A. § 27-51-403 (a)
• Entering intersection on red signal: A.C.A. § 27-52-107.
• Failure to yield the right of way at stop or yield sign: A.C.A. §
27-51-503, § 27-51-601
• Failure to yield the right of way before entering roadway: A.C.A.
§ 27-51-603
• Failure to use head light: A.C.A. § 27-36-220(a)
• Failure to use rear light or reflector: A.C.A. § 27-36-220(a) and
(b)
• Failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalk not controlled by
traffic signals: A.C.A. § 27-51-1202
• Driving while intoxicated: Applicable only to motor vehicles. (You
can’t get a DWI or DUI on a bicycle in Arkansas, however you may
still be cited for “public drunkenness.”)
http://www.northlr.org/pdfs/Arkansas...r+Cyclists.pdf

Last edited by BHOFM; 02-12-12 at 11:07 PM.
BHOFM is offline  
Old 02-13-12, 12:14 AM   #18
B. Carfree
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Bikes:
Posts: 6,893
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 400 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
There is federal case law from a southern state (Alabama or Georgia maybe) that a man used a flashing blue light for safety when his car broke down. Cops arrested him and the state convicted him for using the blue light. He appealed to Federal Court and won. The Federal Court said the man had a constitutional right to use the light for his safety and as long as he did not attempt to impersonate police (pull someone over, etc.) or endanger others, the state could not prohibit the blue lights use for safety.

If anyone has access to a law library that they can find the case law, please post it.

I assume that a similar case can be made for cyclist safety in using a blinking white head light.
Well, that sure takes the fun out of my occasional use of a blue light. Every so often I put a flashing blue light on the back of my helmet to confuse Bubba a bit and hopefully encourage him to pass me safely. (It works.) Here I was thinking I was being illegal and now you go and rain on my parade. Just for that, I'm going to roll through a stop sign without stopping tomorrow.
B. Carfree is offline  
Old 02-13-12, 12:27 AM   #19
CB HI
Cycle Year Round
 
CB HI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Bikes:
Posts: 13,106
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 940 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
Most states ban all flashing lights on vehicles except those that are specifically allowed by law, so that approach won't go far.

But not all states include bicycles in the definition of vehicles, so some states that ban blinking headlights on all vehicles may not ban them on bicycles.
And the Federal case law overrides those states laws.
__________________
Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

Last edited by CB HI; 02-13-12 at 12:33 AM.
CB HI is offline  
Old 02-13-12, 12:32 AM   #20
CB HI
Cycle Year Round
 
CB HI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Bikes:
Posts: 13,106
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 940 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
Well, that sure takes the fun out of my occasional use of a blue light. Every so often I put a flashing blue light on the back of my helmet to confuse Bubba a bit and hopefully encourage him to pass me safely. (It works.) Here I was thinking I was being illegal and now you go and rain on my parade. Just for that, I'm going to roll through a stop sign without stopping tomorrow.
I use a flashing blue light as well. No surprise how well it works. Sort of blows the claim of how hard it is to see cyclist.

One of the reasons I would like to get the case law in hand.
__________________
Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.
CB HI is offline  
Old 02-13-12, 05:52 AM   #21
Bekologist
totally louche
 
Bekologist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: A land that time forgot
Bikes: the ever shifting stable loaded with comfortable road bikes and city and winter bikes
Posts: 18,025
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
a bicyclist that seeks to ban, add legislative clarity or otherwise strengthen enforcement against blinking headlights on bicyclists endangers bicyclists.

a blinky ban would endanger cyclists.

cyclists trying to ban blinkies are in effect, removing cyclists safety margins for riding bikes at night.

seeking to ban blinkies on bikes is reprehensible. the lowest of the low.

if jputnam is honestly concerned about maximizing bicyclist liability in accidents, he would be seeking to explicitly ALLOW blinking headlights for riders, not ban them!
Bekologist is offline  
Old 02-13-12, 06:54 AM   #22
chandltp
Senior Member
 
chandltp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Erie, PA
Bikes: Bacchetta Giro 20, Trek 7000, old Huffy MTB, and a few others
Posts: 1,774
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 21 Post(s)
Pennsylvania is A.

From the BikeLaws Website, section 3507 A which deals with the time from sunset to sunrise:

Operators of pedalcycles may supplement the required front lamp with a white flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device to enhance their visibility to other traffic and with a lamp emitting a red flashing lamp, light emitting diode or similar device visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear.
chandltp is offline  
Old 02-13-12, 06:57 AM   #23
Tom Stormcrowe
Out fishing with Annie on his lap, a cigar in one hand and a ginger ale in the other, watching the sunset.
 
Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: South Florida
Bikes: Techna Wheelchair and a Sun EZ 3 Recumbent Trike
Posts: 16,128
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Indiana allows both blinking headlamps for bikes, but blinking tail lights as well.
__________________
. “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant
Tom Stormcrowe is offline  
Old 02-13-12, 09:45 AM   #24
jputnam
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
jputnam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pacific, WA
Bikes: Custom 531ST touring, Bilenky Viewpoint, Bianchi Milano, vintage Condor racer
Posts: 1,261
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by IndianaShawn View Post
I just saw a pickup truck today at Starbucks. All the spots were full and this truck had its hazzards on which were strobing. I think it was a Ford Diesel and it was part of the stock design (not sure though).
Yes, amber hazard lights are generally among the exceptions allowed by law. In some states that is worded specifically for motor vehicles, in others it applies to all vehicles, but in no case I'm aware of does it apply to headlights.
jputnam is offline  
Old 02-13-12, 09:50 AM   #25
irwin7638
Senior Member
 
irwin7638's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Kalamazoo, Mi.
Bikes: Byron,Sam, The Hunq and that Old Guy
Posts: 2,971
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 53 Post(s)
I believe Michigan is "b". We are require to have a front reflector after sunset, the rest is a non-issue so far.

Marc
irwin7638 is offline  
Closed Thread


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:09 AM.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
 
  • Ask a Question
    get answers from real people!
Click to start entering your question.
I HAVE A QUESTION