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Should permanent running lights for cyclists be mandatory?

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Should permanent running lights for cyclists be mandatory?

Old 03-22-13, 04:36 PM
  #26  
Chief
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
We don't allow people to drive automobiles without lights, why should we continue to do so for cyclists? Cyclists not using lights at night is widespread. The safety advantage of using lights at night is obvious. Research has shown that in places where daytime use of lights in automobiles and motorcycles is mandatory has made the roads safer. The article above, and others, are showing that this is also true for cyclists.
I've never had to use lights on my car while driving during the day, until recently when Calif mandated "headlights on if it's raining enough to use wipers".

BTW, I say NO to your original question.
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Old 03-22-13, 04:55 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
We don't allow people to drive automobiles without lights, why should we continue to do so for cyclists?
There are many, many cars that do not have running headlights and many, many areas that do not have daytime light provisions.
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Old 03-22-13, 05:36 PM
  #28  
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Correct, I wasn;t clear in post #13. I'm referring to the requirement that automobiles use lights at night in every US state. Motorists driving around at night without lights will be pulled over by the police. Lights at night for automobiles is a requirement that is enforced in every state I can think of. The same should apply for cyclists: many states already require cyclists use lights at night. Enforcement of those on the books should be a safety priority.Currently enforcement is low or non-existent. The police have enforced the bike light laws here in Portland but not enough to cause widespread disappearance of ninjas. Ninjas are zipping throughout the city, I see 5-10 a night on the commute. Enforcing current nighttime use of lights should be a priority. Introducing a law that requires cyclists to use lights also during the daytime (which increases daytime safety) would also decrease the number of cyclists without lights at night.
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Old 03-22-13, 05:52 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
Introducing a law that requires cyclists to use lights also during the daytime (which increases daytime safety) would also decrease the number of cyclists without lights at night.
How exactly? People without lights would stop riding altogether?
Or riders who don't care about a nighttime fine would buy lights to avoid a daytime one?
Or something else?
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Old 03-22-13, 06:02 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
Lights at night for automobiles is a requirement that is enforced in every state I can think of. The same should apply for cyclists: many states already require cyclists use lights at night. Enforcement of those on the books should be a safety priority.Currently enforcement is low or non-existent. ... Introducing a law that requires cyclists to use lights also during the daytime (which increases daytime safety) would also decrease the number of cyclists without lights at night.
AFAIK, all states already require that bicyclists have at least a front headlight and a red rear reflector and/or light when riding at night with some states adding additional lighting and reflector requirements. If enforcement of these existing laws is too lax for your tastes, I fail to see how enacting more bike lighting laws would improve the situation - I'd expect even less enforcement of a daytime light requirement.
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Old 03-22-13, 06:07 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Ferrous Bueller View Post
How exactly? People without lights would stop riding altogether?
Or riders who don't care about a nighttime fine would buy lights to avoid a daytime one?
Or something else?
If daytime light use is mandatory there will be no period of time where riding without a light is legal. Currently most US states (any that don't?) require cyclists to have lights at night, either the front, rear, or both. By requiring daytime use of lights - which has safety advantages for the cyclist - the lights will already be there for night use. People without lights shouldn't be riding a bike at night. There is NO excuse not to use lights. It comes down to education: bicycles NEED lights, especially for night use. The attitude in highly motorized cities is that bicycles are toys, or at best two wheeled contraptions of leisure for meandering through the park with a basket of bread and beer. This affects the people picking up cycling into maybe thinking that they don't need lights.
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Old 03-22-13, 06:09 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
I fail to see how enacting more bike lighting laws would improve the situation - I'd expect even less enforcement of a daytime light requirement.
The situation would improve if there was enough public education that shows

1) cyclists need lights -- especially at night
2) there will be fines for those who don't comply
3) enough demand for enforcement. If more cyclists and motorists were to complain about unlit cyclists....
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Old 03-22-13, 06:30 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
... If permanent lights are compulsory the prices of lights would probably go down as well. ...
Now they have to buy my lights. Why would I want to drop my price when they have to buy?
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Old 03-22-13, 06:33 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
paraphrased: It's the law. They'd change their ways. They'd get lights. They just would.
ah
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Old 03-22-13, 06:42 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
The situation would improve if there was enough public education that shows

1) cyclists need lights -- especially at night
2) there will be fines for those who don't comply
3) enough demand for enforcement. If more cyclists and motorists were to complain about unlit cyclists....
None of which has any connection to passing yet more laws.

Enforcement is usually a low priority for actions that primarily impact the perpetrator and rarely harm others (although there are some exceptions for a few 'victimless crimes').

Last edited by prathmann; 03-22-13 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 03-22-13, 07:34 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
People without lights shouldn't be riding a bike at night.
Yet they do so all the time. In NYC at night most bikes running on the streets have no lights whatsoever. What do you think the cops and the cyclists will do when you add a daytime light law?
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Old 03-22-13, 08:09 PM
  #37  
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Cant you just see a 300 pound cop arresting little Jimmy for not having a light on his bike!!!! Handcuff the little law breaker, haul him off to jail, feed him bread and water. Yeah sure!!!!!

More stupid laws and fines for the b'crats!!!!! How about personal responsibility**********
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Old 03-22-13, 08:12 PM
  #38  
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I'd say the strongest argument favoring bikes running daytime lights, is that people riding bikes near or amongst motor vehicles in traffic, are vulnerable road users. For them especially, daytime running lights can be a valuable defensive measure that can aid some of the people driving, to see vulnerable road users more readily than if daytime lights aren't in use. Daytime running lights on bikes are a good idea in some, but not all road traffic situations. Rather than have their use mandated, I'd prefer better, more comprehensive efforts at widespread publicly available bike specific education that encourages, rather than obliges people to increase their bike's and their selves visibility on the road to other road users.

Buying and adequately maintaining bike lighting, even though it's relatively low cost for some people, will be quite a challenge for many. I think this is part of the reason why many people don't run them now, even at night. For me, a refresher on how a country such as Germany manages higher use of bike lighting, would be worth a look. My slim knowledge from what I've casually read, is that all except racing and racing style bikes are required to be sold with lights. Don't know whether the requirement calls for dyno hubs, or whether battery powered lights are allowed. In Germany, Amsterdam, etc, I wonder if the rate at which cyclists in those countries keeping their lights working well is high. Expecting that everyone will keep their batteries charged is a tall order.
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Old 03-22-13, 08:32 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
More stupid laws and fines for the b'crats!!!!!
No "b'crats!!!!!" or anybody else in government or anywhere else proposed anything of the sort; only a BF Dudley Do Right with another Good Idea™. Anybody but a BF Wizard should be able to figure this out.
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Old 03-22-13, 08:32 PM
  #40  
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Before mandating additional restrictions on cycling, there should be some showing that cycling represents an excessive risk.

Since bicycle commuters have a 40% lower probability of premature mortality than motorists, additional restrictions on cyclists might make eminent sense after we've dealt with the real problem, motorists killing motorists.

For now, with most existing bicycle regulations unenforced because the police have much higher priorities reducing the risk of incompetent motorists, I can't see the point in adding more restrictions on the lower-risk form of transportation.
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Old 03-22-13, 09:15 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by wsbob View Post
Don't know whether the requirement calls for dyno hubs, or whether battery powered lights are allowed. In Germany, Amsterdam, etc, I wonder if the rate at which cyclists in those countries keeping their lights working well is high. Expecting that everyone will keep their batteries charged is a tall order.
My understanding:
Germany- lights must be on even when stopped- if using dyno, must have reserve capacity.
NL- lights can turn off when stopped (grandfathering all the bikes with old bottle dynos) many just use blinkies attached to clothing/bags.
Dutch city downtown on a Saturday night- maybe 50% compliance.
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Old 03-22-13, 09:18 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
The study was done with two groups, one with permanent running lights and the other group without them. The group that participated in using permanent lights were not riders who were using them previously. These riders bikes were equipped with these lights after they signed up to volunteer.
I got 2 thoughts here:

1. High visibility clothing is a heck of a lot easier to notice in bright daylight than most cycle lights, and from farther away too.
2. If a driver doesn't see you in daylight without a light, he probably won't see you with them.

Ok, one more: Riding style and road savvy are the most significant factors in avoiding incidents.

I have a dyno hub on my commuting bike and will run lights when conditions are dodgy, but have no interest in running them all the time. I do hope that they will start enforcing the laws requiring cars to run lights when it's dark though.
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Old 03-22-13, 10:01 PM
  #43  
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I expect that the main practical effect of a law mandating daytime lighting of cyclists is that it would provide motorists with one more excuse after a collision. "I didn't see him" would be appended with "he must not have had his light on" thereby making the cyclist guilty of a traffic violation and at least partly at fault in the collision. If the collision is a serious one it's unlikely the light would still be working and it would be hard for the cyclist to prove it was in operation at the time unless there happen to be independent witnesses.

In my one night-time accident the first words spoken by the motorist after I flew across his hood when he pulled out in front of me were "Did you have a light on?" Fortunately the collision was at pretty low speed and my light was still shining brightly. His tone and attitude changed immediately when he saw it and he offered me a ride home and cooperated in getting his auto insurance to pay for repairs.
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Old 03-22-13, 10:15 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
We don't allow people to drive automobiles without lights, why should we continue to do so for cyclists?
Really? What state requires lights (other than brake lights and possibly turn signals) to be used on a car in the daytime?
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Old 03-23-13, 12:26 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
Correct, I wasn;t clear in post #13. I'm referring to the requirement that automobiles use lights at night in every US state.
And we generally have such a law for bikes, too.

Glad we cleared that up.
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Old 03-23-13, 12:47 AM
  #46  
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Daytime running lights have never made any sense to me. The railroads figured out over a century ago that constant intensity lamps will not make anything more visible in daylight conditions. That's why they use oscillating or flashing lights.

I'm convinced that the real problem these days is so many motorists simply not looking. They won't see you, no matter how well lit up you are.
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Old 03-23-13, 12:57 AM
  #47  
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Hasn't this very issue already been discussed to death by people in industry?
I believe the conclusion was that requiring permament lights on bikes would discourage sales; so they instead opted for reflectors only, leaving the ultimate desision of safety up to the rider.
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Old 03-23-13, 01:56 AM
  #48  
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I added the bold to the quote below:

Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
Before mandating additional restrictions on cycling, there should be some showing that cycling represents an excessive risk.

Since bicycle commuters have a 40% lower probability of premature mortality than motorists, additional restrictions on cyclists might make eminent sense after we've dealt with the real problem, motorists killing motorists.

For now, with most existing bicycle regulations unenforced because the police have much higher priorities reducing the risk of incompetent motorists, I can't see the point in adding more restrictions on the lower-risk form of transportation.
Where people riding bikes are obliged to travel amongst motor vehicles, the risks to people riding bikes, from motor vehicles, can be excessive. Use of lights by cyclists can help reduce that risk. The trick is to somehow keep the safety benefit that use of lights by cyclists can be to their safety, from being a restriction to riding.
Originally Posted by Matariki View Post
I got 2 thoughts here:

1. High visibility clothing is a heck of a lot easier to notice in bright daylight than most cycle lights, and from farther away too.
2. If a driver doesn't see you in daylight without a light, he probably won't see you with them.

Ok, one more: Riding style and road savvy are the most significant factors in avoiding incidents.

I have a dyno hub on my commuting bike and will run lights when conditions are dodgy, but have no interest in running them all the time. I do hope that they will start enforcing the laws requiring cars to run lights when it's dark though.
Hi-vis gear can sometimes aid visibility of cyclists wearing it, by people driving, but not universally so in all road situations. That's the kind of thing people biking need to know to become road savvy, allowing them to use their judgment to make various changes in their gear, or their riding strategy according to demands presented by changes in road and traffic conditions.


Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
I expect that the main practical effect of a law mandating daytime lighting of cyclists is that it would provide motorists with one more excuse after a collision. "I didn't see him" would be appended with "he must not have had his light on" thereby making the cyclist guilty of a traffic violation and at least partly at fault in the collision. If the collision is a serious one it's unlikely the light would still be working and it would be hard for the cyclist to prove it was in operation at the time unless there happen to be independent witnesses.

In my one night-time accident the first words spoken by the motorist after I flew across his hood when he pulled out in front of me were "Did you have a light on?" Fortunately the collision was at pretty low speed and my light was still shining brightly. His tone and attitude changed immediately when he saw it and he offered me a ride home and cooperated in getting his auto insurance to pay for repairs.
First of all, at least from my observation of people biking in my area, quite a number of people biking run daytime lights. It's not at all an uncommon thing. Does their using daytime lights eliminate the possibility that people driving somehow, in certain situations, won't see these cyclists? I can't say for sure; I don't think it can eliminate that possibility, but do think cyclists using daytime lights can help reduce the chances they won't be seen. Use of lights and other gear by cyclists for the purpose of aiding visibility of themselves by people driving motor vehicles are just that. Enhanced visibility of vulnerable road users by people using the road that aren't vulnerable road users, can be of some defense against that vulnerability.
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Old 03-23-13, 08:11 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
Hasn't this very issue already been discussed to death by people in industry?
I believe the conclusion was that requiring permament lights on bikes would discourage sales; so they instead opted for reflectors only, leaving the ultimate desision of safety up to the rider.
Why would it discourage sales? $50-300 for good lights is cheaper than a years worth of car ownership. $50-300 for lights is cheaper than the hospital bill. There can also be significant legal problems if an accident occurs (at night without a light):

Psychology recognizes a common human behavior known as "case building" engaged in by people when they have committed a questionable act. While "case building," starts for most people at the moment of impact and blossoms forth upon first contact between co-participants in an accident, many straightforward accidents that are clearly the motorist's fault become contested liability fights because the bicyclist failed to have a head light. Since many accidents occur when a motor vehicle pulls out in front of a bicyclist, it is often the finding of a post-accident reconstruction that the ambient light was insufficient to activate the front reflector on the bicycle. Since the motorist was not facing directly toward the bicyclist, the car headlights did nothing to make the front reflector visible and the motorist has some justification in claiming that the unlighted bicycle rider was at fault for failing to have a proper light. It is sometimes possible to show that ambient light, the headlights of other cars, and the bicyclist's bright clothing combined to make the bicycle rider clearly visible if the motorist had been paying attention; however, a bicyclist involved in an accident at night without a headlight always has a big problem with liability.
Oregon Bicycle Lighting Requirements
https://www.stc-law.com/bikelighting.html


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Old 03-23-13, 08:33 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
Why would it discourage sales? $50-300 for good lights is cheaper than a years worth of car ownership. $50-300 for lights is cheaper than the hospital bill.
Depending on the bike, $50 -$300 could be 100 - 600% of a bike's value. That's a lot.
We have to be very careful to keep cycling cheap and accessible. From a public health perspective, it's far more expensive to deal with the disease and illness associated with sedentary lifestyles than the tiny increase in injuries that may occur if cyclists are not well lit.
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