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flashing or steady lights?

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flashing or steady lights?

Old 11-13-12, 09:32 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
I personally don't mind if my flashing lights are annoying...that just means I am being seen, which is huge in terms of safety IMHO
I agree. Annoying but not blinding is the way to go.

For what it's worth, the feedback I've gotten is that motorists appreciate being able to see me.

Cheers,
Charles
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Old 11-13-12, 11:05 AM
  #27  
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My personal observations are that blinking lights both front and rear are much better at alerting drivers of your presence. To see, steady is the only way to go. I wonder if anyone in the US has been ticketed for using a flashing rear light at night?
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Old 11-13-12, 11:25 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
What do you think is more effective, and why? I'm starting to think that flashing is better in the day time. I'm sure a steady headlight is better in the night, but I'm not sure about a tail light.
I'm about to head out into a very foggy day, and it seems to me that a flashing tail light is more likely to keep me alive.
If goal is to avoid getting hit by a car, then I think flashing (on both ends) is the way to go. For simple reason: they just seem to attract attention.
I've noticed at intersections, where the bike lane becomes divided by turn lane, if I have flashers on (either front or rear), car drivers tend to yield through the intersection.
If flashers off, they tend to "race" ahead (throttling to cut ahead and make the right turn).

I usually run solid front, since it's easier for me to see by but turn on the flash at intersections or on roads where there's more risk of getting pegged.

Now that you've brought it up, got me thinking: I'm going to buy a pair of that reflective crank tape; they appear to "flash" more from the rear, I think it'll help.
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Old 11-21-12, 09:16 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by howsteepisit View Post
I wonder if anyone in the US has been ticketed for using a flashing rear light at night?
I know it happened to at least a few riders in Washington State many years ago, before state code was amended to specifically allow blinking tail lights on bicycles.

Flashing white headlights remain clearly illegal in Washington, but I'm not aware of any significant enforcement other than a few specific cases of blindingly-bright strobing headlights. (If it's bright enough to be sold as a personal defense weapon without a handlebar mount, it probably shouldn't be flashing on your handlebars.)

Another solution is that used on many motorcycles -- not complete on/off flashing, but modulated intensity, a 5-10% flicker that draws plenty of attention without being dangerously disorienting to oncoming traffic. I know at least a few bicycle headlights offer that, and other riders I've seen pair a steady bright headlight with a much dimmer flashing headlight for the same effect.
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Old 11-21-12, 09:23 PM
  #30  
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Seen recently on the I-90 Bicycle Trail outside Seattle ....


"Thanks for not Flashing!" by joshua_putnam, on Flickr
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Old 11-21-12, 09:23 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Fishmonger View Post
A blinking headlight makes me dizzy, so I can't use it in the dark, but I think they're much easier to notice.
It's like riding in a disco. love it.

Bicyclists should certainly be allowed the leeway to run flashing lights at night, many low powered lights used by the vast majority of american cyclists are hardly visible unless flashing.
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Old 11-21-12, 09:24 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
Seen recently on the I-90 Bicycle Trail outside Seattle ....


"Thanks for not Flashing!" by joshua_putnam, on Flickr

he isn't doing it right, you are not meant to have shoes on
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Old 11-21-12, 10:56 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
Seen recently on the I-90 Bicycle Trail outside Seattle ....


"Thanks for not Flashing!" by joshua_putnam, on Flickr
They may be illegal in Seattle, but here in Florida the law was recently amended and takes effect 1 Jan 2013 (IIRC) to allow bicycles to use blinking/flashing lights.
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Old 11-21-12, 10:56 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
It's like riding in a disco. love it.

Bicyclists should certainly be allowed the leeway to run flashing lights at night, many low powered lights used by the vast majority of american cyclists are hardly visible unless flashing.
Ya mean we actually agree on something?!?
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Old 11-22-12, 12:26 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
They may be illegal in Seattle, but here in Florida the law was recently amended and takes effect 1 Jan 2013 (IIRC) to allow bicycles to use blinking/flashing lights.
Washington law was changed more than a decade ago to allow flashing tail lights, but flashing headlights are still illegal. You can have flashing hazard lights in front, like any slow-moving vehicle, but they have to be amber, not white.

Realistically, I don't think anyone is going to go after little AAA-powered blinky lights, more the 1,000-lumen tactical flashlights that happen to have handlebar mounts.
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Old 11-22-12, 12:52 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
Washington law was changed more than a decade ago to allow flashing tail lights, but flashing headlights are still illegal. You can have flashing hazard lights in front, like any slow-moving vehicle, but they have to be amber, not white.

Realistically, I don't think anyone is going to go after little AAA-powered blinky lights, more the 1,000-lumen tactical flashlights that happen to have handlebar mounts.
I would have to agree with you. A while ago I was talking with an officer (before the law was amended) and he acknowledged that for cyclists that the use of blinking/flashing lights is/was a safety issue and thus "ignored."

What I found interesting also a while back, is that while there is (as in all states) a minimal power requirement, i.e. being visible for x number of feet to the front and rear of the bicycle that there is apparently is no limit on how powerful a light could be. So that if one had one of those "1,000,000 candlepower" spot lights (the kind that "rednecks" use to "spotlight" deer even though it is illegal), and they could figure out a way of affixing it to their bikes, that they're good to go.
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Old 11-22-12, 01:30 AM
  #37  
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From the point of view of a motorist, every morning I pass several bicycle commuters on my drive. There's one guy who has the most obnoxious flashing stadium light of a headlight, visible from the space station. It's the visual equivalent of an air horn - so bright, people move into the left lane AFTER they pass this guy just to get him out of the rear view mirror. By comparison, the cyclists with the steady lights just blend in.
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Old 11-22-12, 04:36 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here View Post
From the point of view of a motorist, every morning I pass several bicycle commuters on my drive. There's one guy who has the most obnoxious flashing stadium light of a headlight, visible from the space station. It's the visual equivalent of an air horn - so bright, people move into the left lane AFTER they pass this guy just to get him out of the rear view mirror. By comparison, the cyclists with the steady lights just blend in.
Exactly. Bikes with flashing lights get noticed, bikes with steady lights just blend in.

All states should explicitly allow flashing headlights.

Busybody bicyclists whose advocacy 'mission' is to fight flashing light use by other bicyclists should shirk away, ashamed and unnoticed in the dark, for such heresy against bicyclist roadway safety.

Last edited by Bekologist; 11-22-12 at 06:30 AM.
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Old 11-22-12, 08:14 AM
  #39  
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I stopped using flashing lights, when I was repeatedly told that the DiNotte's are a bit hard to follow on flash. Even on the lowest solid setting, they are still quite bright. I'd rather not blind everyone around me.
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Old 11-22-12, 11:57 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
I would have to agree with you. A while ago I was talking with an officer (before the law was amended) and he acknowledged that for cyclists that the use of blinking/flashing lights is/was a safety issue and thus "ignored."

What I found interesting also a while back, is that while there is (as in all states) a minimal power requirement, i.e. being visible for x number of feet to the front and rear of the bicycle that there is apparently is no limit on how powerful a light could be. So that if one had one of those "1,000,000 candlepower" spot lights (the kind that "rednecks" use to "spotlight" deer even though it is illegal), and they could figure out a way of affixing it to their bikes, that they're good to go.
Yes and no. There's no maximum power for bicycle headlights, but in some states at least, bicycle headlights are subject to the general rule against headlights that cast excessive glare into the eyes of oncoming drivers. That rule has been around since the days of 6V mono-beam incandescent car headlights -- better bike headlights already far exceed the output of those car headlights. As long as police think of bikes as toys instead of transportation, though, I don't think we're at much risk of having our safety taken seriously.
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Old 12-05-12, 04:18 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
Seen recently on the I-90 Bicycle Trail outside Seattle ....


"Thanks for not Flashing!" by joshua_putnam, on Flickr
The poster in the photo repeats the often-made claim that flashing bike lights cause seizures. For the people here who have this problem, I am curious about your reaction to the many other flashing lights, usually larger and brighter than bike lights, that are encountered every time you drive. Examples: flashing lights on emergency vehicles, turn signals/emergency flashers on every type of vehicle, flashing lights at railroad crossings, neon signs on store fronts, flashing red stop/yellow caution/walk/don't walk signs at intersections, lights on low flying planes near airports, barricades near road works. Do these also cause seizures ?
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Old 12-05-12, 05:41 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by pmseattle View Post
The poster in the photo repeats the often-made claim that flashing bike lights cause seizures. For the people here who have this problem, I am curious about your reaction to the many other flashing lights, usually larger and brighter than bike lights, that are encountered every time you drive. Examples: flashing lights on emergency vehicles, turn signals/emergency flashers on every type of vehicle, flashing lights at railroad crossings, neon signs on store fronts, flashing red stop/yellow caution/walk/don't walk signs at intersections, lights on low flying planes near airports, barricades near road works. Do these also cause seizures ?
Probably not because, if another Urban Legend often repeated by BF rumor mongers is true, the flashing lights are quickly eliminated by all the drunks crashing into them.
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Old 12-05-12, 06:46 PM
  #43  
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I think the ideal setup for safety is:

1 front light with a solid beam angled so that the light falls at X distance. This light goes on the handlebars. 700 lumen minimum. 1 helmet light on flash. 700 lumen minimum.
2 rear lights minimum: One on steady, one on solid. The more rear lights the better. On my commuter bike with rack I’m using three Cygolite hotshots (1 on the seatpost, 2 on each side of the rack) and another hotshot on the back of the helmet; all set to half being steady and the other half blinking. This rear light setup is extrememly bright and I’ve had numerous positive comments from drivers and cyclists alike marveling just how bright I am and how I was seen several blocks away.

Looking into the DiNotte 400R so will remove the seatpost hotshot and put that on another bike. The Dinotte will run flash and the two hotshots on the rack and the one on the helmet will run solid. I wonder if the hotshots will be drowned out by the 400R? Probably....so I’ll play with it.


Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I agree that if it makes us safer and it is illegal, we should do it.
I didn’t know flashing front lights were illegal in WA until reading through this thread. Never had a problem in Seattle with the police for my 750 lumen flashing helmet light. I’ll keep using it because I am safer doing so.

Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
I personally don't mind if my flashing lights are annoying...that just means I am being seen, which is huge in terms of safety IMHO
Yup, better to annoy somebody than invisible and then dead. I get yelled at on a weekly basis by drivers and cyclists for my lights and I can’t help but LOL (really) at them. I’m seen! Mission accomplished.

Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here View Post
From the point of view of a motorist, every morning I pass several bicycle commuters on my drive. There's one guy who has the most obnoxious flashing stadium light of a headlight, visible from the space station. It's the visual equivalent of an air horn - so bright, people move into the left lane AFTER they pass this guy just to get him out of the rear view mirror. By comparison, the cyclists with the steady lights just blend in.
Excellent, this guy will probably be the last one dead in the pack of Planet Bike light flashies.

Originally Posted by Speedwagon98 View Post
I stopped using flashing lights, when I was repeatedly told that the DiNotte's are a bit hard to follow on flash. Even on the lowest solid setting, they are still quite bright. I'd rather not blind everyone around me.
Angle it down a little bit so it doesn’t hit sear the retinas. If it is helmet mounted, you can angle it down just enough so that it flashes onto the ground X distance in front of you, and isn’t completely level to the eyes of drivers/other road users. And then if you need to sear some retinas just stretch your neck backwards up and watch the pulse fill up car cabins and mirrors.
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Old 12-05-12, 07:03 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I agree that if it makes us safer and it is illegal, we should do it. But we should pay any tickets we get. After paying a ticket or two, I'll switch to steady. But I'm not waiting for that to happen.

I have a spoke light that flashes alternately blue and red. I think I did inadvertently stop an oncoming car. I can't say for sure. Since it spins on the wheel and is blue and red, the bike might look like a police vehicle.
we cant have flashing red and blue bike lights combined, as our bike cops here use them, but everyone I see has a flashing red rear, I custom made my own old school red taillight, thinking of making a second for the other side that flashes, leave the left side facing most traffic steady
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Old 12-07-12, 05:51 PM
  #45  
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On a nice sunny day I don't use lights. On overcast or foggy days I use a flashing tail light and flashing headlight. At night I go with two taillights, one flashing and one steady and the headlight is on steady. No flashing headlights at night for me. What I can't stand is someone at night on the bike path running a flashing front light. What purpose does it serve? It doesn't do them or anyone else any good. The last time I saw this I thought about turning my lights on flashing to see how he likes it. I doubt he would like 3,000 lumens flashing in his eyes and might get the point across.
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Old 12-07-12, 06:43 PM
  #46  
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To my mind flashing lights are "attention getters". They get you noticed, but they are hard to track to the eye for someone trying to track your position especially at night with wet roads that create high glare situations. Also, if they are too bright or the flashing rate is too high like a tactical strobe setting on a flashlight they have a blinding, migraine inducing, and potential seizure causing effect.

I personally think that blinking lights white (or better yet amber/yellow) for front and red for rear should be limited to a maximum of 100Lm (1-watt LED) at a slow enough blink rate so as to not induce negative mental effects and should be accompanied by a solid on light that is at least twice as bright white for the front and red for the rear. That is the kind of set-up I run which gives a bright steady light that allows other drivers to visually track your position after the blinker(s) get them to notice you. I prefer to run double 1/2-watt blinkers front and rear so that I have a redundancy such that if one quits working I still have another one on both front and rear and do the same with the steady on lights as well.

Basically a blinky gets you noticed but having a steady on light as well that is at least as bright preferably about twice as bright as the blinky light is just about the perfect set-up in my opinion because it gives other drivers a solid on light to more easily track your position and judge your distance and speed and makes the blinky less annoying while still allowing it to get you noticed. I should note that if the solid on light is considerably more powerful then the blinky it can drownd it out and keep it from getting noticed so at least on the rear I try to keep the solid on light from being much more then twice as bright as the blinky so as to maintain the effectiveness of the blinky. On the front when I'm pushing 2,000-6,000Lm white light I really don't need the blinky to get noticed from the front so I don't mind if the blinky gets drowned out when my front "to see" headlights are on the high setting(s).
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Old 12-07-12, 09:00 PM
  #47  
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I run one of each, day and night. The blinking headlight has saved my hide on many occasions, in circumstances that had previously resulted in harrowing close calls (prior to going blinky up front).
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Old 12-07-12, 09:02 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by maximushq2 View Post
On a nice sunny day I don't use lights. On overcast or foggy days I use a flashing tail light and flashing headlight. At night I go with two taillights, one flashing and one steady and the headlight is on steady. No flashing headlights at night for me. What I can't stand is someone at night on the bike path running a flashing front light. What purpose does it serve? It doesn't do them or anyone else any good. The last time I saw this I thought about turning my lights on flashing to see how he likes it. I doubt he would like 3,000 lumens flashing in his eyes and might get the point across.
On bright sunny days, cyclists are just as prone to "disappearing" into the noise of the background as on low light days. The flashing lights help to bring you out of the background. I've noticed this when driving - cyclists who run blinkies in daylight stand out much more than those who don't.

If you're on a MUP (as your post indicates), it is less of an issue, IMO
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Old 12-08-12, 11:42 AM
  #49  
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Six Lights, three steady, and three flashing.

The steady lights are on a 12 volt SLA battery, the blinking lights are "blinkies".

It works for me.

But I do not ride in the fog. Though it is foggy today. Maybe it will clear.
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Old 12-08-12, 02:58 PM
  #50  
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IMO there are two issues. Being legal and staying alive. NY requires a steady red rear light, so flashing lights don't make the cut. But IMO a steady red not only fails to get as much attention as a flashing red, it also presents the greatest risk of the motorist misjudging speed and distance.

Many years ago, I gave up on red rear, and went to a flashing amber. This is much brighter and obvious at a great distance, but not legal in NYS. I've had police comment about my light pointing out that in NY flashing amber is reserved for stationary hazards or barriers. My answer is that given my speed and the car's closing speed, I'm almost stationary by comparison and wnat the car to proceed as if I were a big hole in the ground.

For the last few years, I've replaced the lens on my rear strobe with a blue lens (reserved for police), which elicits an even earlier reaction from cars approaching from the rear.

So in 10+ year of riding illegally, I've spoken to about 20 cops about it, and every one agreed, that they'd rather see me breaking the light law, than having to write an accident report. (though one reminded me, to not rely too much on my blue strobe, since getting hit by cars is the number one cause of police injury)
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