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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, 11:51 AM
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agent pombero
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Should permanent running lights for cyclists be mandatory?

Several threads here show that some riders use their lights during the daytime. I also do this (headlights on flash/rear lights flash) because I feel like it makes me more visible to motorists. I finished reading this* article which finds that cyclists running daytime permanent lights resulted in a 19% decrease in bicycle accidents/injury compared to those who didn't. The study was conducted in Odense, Denmark. The authors conclude that

The controlled experiment gives evidence that the use of permanent bicycle running lights will significantly improve traffic safety for cyclists due to the improvement of visibility. The results of the project indicate that the occurrence of bicycle accidents with personal injury to the cyclist is 19% lower for persons using a permanent bicycle running light than for persons not using a permanent bicycle running light. Significant effects are documented for multi-party bicycle accidents with personal injury, where the accident rate is 47% lower for persons using a bicycle running light. The results indicate that the bicycle running lights may reduce the occurrence of multiparty bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles as the counterpart as well as the occurrence of multiparty accidents involving other cyclists and pedestrians as the counterpart.
Should it be mandatory that others in the US do so?

*Madsen, J.C.O., T. Andersen, and H.S. Lahrmann. 2013. "Safety effects of permanent running lights for bicycles: A controlled experiment". Accident Analysis and Prevention. 50: 820-829.
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Old 03-22-13, 11:55 AM
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There are already laws in place for lighting... do we really need more unenforced regulations? How about if motorists just follow the laws set aside for them and don't hit other road users in front of them, and slow down. Oh wait, those laws aren't enforced either...
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Old 03-22-13, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by agent pombero View Post
Should it be mandatory that others in the US do so?
No.

Although daytime running lights are a good idea in general for all road-going vehicles. They have been required on motorcycles in the USA since the early 70s.
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Old 03-22-13, 12:21 PM
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Even if it was "mandatory" they'd have the hardest time just trying to enforce it. Just a huge waste of time and money that would be better spent elsewhere IMO.
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Old 03-22-13, 12:34 PM
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I think it should be mandatory because it increases safety for cyclists. It could be enforced with a $100-300 fine. Fines in Denmark are $121 (DKK 700) if lights are not used. As someone here on another thread suggested, the fine could be a 50% coupon that the rider uses to purchase a light. If permanent lights are compulsory the prices of lights would probably go down as well. Making running lights a requirement during the daytime would also decrease the problem of ninja riders at night.
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Old 03-22-13, 12:42 PM
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A good idea and one I follow, but we don't need to make more 'good advice' mandatory. There are more significant societal issues to which our enforcement attentions might be devoted.
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Old 03-22-13, 12:42 PM
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From a visibility perspective, it couldn't hurt.
From the perspective of regulating a positive and healthy activity to the point where nobody wants to do it anymore, its bad.
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Old 03-22-13, 12:53 PM
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Would an even greater reduction in accident rates make you change your minds and agree with making the lights mandatory? The 19% reduction doesn't really impress me, the 47% does, but it's a little confusing to me what that one is talking about. Is that about multiple bicycles getting run over? And are the wrecks happening at night or in the day light?

I wouldn't vote to make them mandatory, but I feel better about leaving mine (headlight and tail light) running all the time. I have a generator hub and can't feel any difference in effort with the lights on or off, so I leave them on. I'm just generally opposed to regulations inflicted on me for my own good.

"How about if motorists just follow the laws set aside for them and don't hit other road users in front of them, and slow down." We're just dreamers, genec.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by enigmaT120 View Post
I wouldn't vote to make them mandatory
And neither will anybody else, since nobody, anywhere has made such a proposal. The OP was just daydreaming.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:08 PM
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Let's put more mandatory obstacles in the way of people using their bikes.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
The OP was just daydreaming.
Real public money funded a study by a research group which exists to provide recommendations to governments and others on transportation policy. It's not too hard to image someone in the legislative branch tabling a bill.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:23 PM
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Exactly. That is exactly what this journal is used for.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by nelson249 View Post
Let's put more mandatory obstacles in the way of people using their bikes.
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.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:35 PM
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Was it really a controlled study? I would assume that cyclists that use daytime running lights are naturally more cautious and are therefore involved in fewer accidents.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Ferrous Bueller View Post
From a visibility perspective, it couldn't hurt.
From the perspective of regulating a positive and healthy activity to the point where nobody wants to do it anymore, its bad.
+1
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Old 03-22-13, 01:42 PM
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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.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:52 PM
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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?
Good question. My answer is that we (as cyclists) want to see more of us on the road. To that end, we want governments to be careful to avoid adding so many regulations that people are discouraged from participating. Helmet laws are one example of legislation proven to reduce the number of riders on the road. Daytime running light regulations barely made an impact on the affordability or complexity of cars.
Police in the Netherlands periodically do a spot check on lights during the dark hours, issuing tickets on a rare occasion. Here's a sample of things they don't usually ticket for:
Riding bareheaded (obviously),
Riding the wrong way on a 1 way street(most have signs saying this is OK anyways),
Riding on the sidewalk, pedestrian zone,
through a red light,
through a stop sign,
riding double,
riding drunk,
impeding traffic, etc. etc.
Bikes and their riders have a special status in the country. Motorists don't usually honk at riders who don't wait their turn at intersections. It's not just about creating infrastructure. It's about removing so many barriers that cycling becomes the default choice. If we want to really promote cycling, we'd do well to follow the Dutch example.
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Old 03-22-13, 01:54 PM
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interesting study. the effect was much larger than i would have expected.
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Old 03-22-13, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Ferrous Bueller View Post
It's not just about creating infrastructure. It's about removing so many barriers that cycling becomes the default choice. If we want to really promote cycling, we'd do well to follow the Dutch example.
when people value human life more than motorist convenience cycling ceases to become a major "safety" problem.
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Old 03-22-13, 02:17 PM
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Cyclists are forced to use lights in daytime largely because some drivers don't look, or can't see well. Maybe some sort of mandatory measure should be imposed on drivers instead.

Many other factors also decrease bike accidents/injuries, such as avoiding high speed. If they all become mandatory, accidents will decrease for sure, but what a nightmare it would be.

(I'm not against using lights in daytime--in fact I have started doing so, thanks to some members' (including OP's) posts here about the advantages. But I don't think it should be mandatory. Even the now mandatory nighttime lights requirement can't be reinforced.)

Last edited by vol; 03-22-13 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 03-22-13, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
Cyclists are forced to use lights in daytime largely because some drivers don't look, or can't see well. Maybe some sort of mandatory measure should be imposed on drivers instead.

Many other factors also decrease bike accidents/injuries, such as avoiding high speed. If they all become mandatory, accidents will decrease for sure, but what a nightmare it would be.

(I'm not against using lights in daytime--in fact I have started doing so, thanks to some members' (including OP's) posts here about the advantages. But I don't think it should be mandatory. Even the now mandatory nighttime lights requirement can't be reinforced.)

+1000 Same ideas expressed in the 2nd post. I have to agree. Enforce existing laws... period.
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Old 03-22-13, 02:29 PM
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Do you expect police to enforce this when they don't even press charges against a driver who run over a cyclist and runaway in daytime?

Good thinking.
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Old 03-22-13, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
hey have been required on motorcycles in the USA since the early 70s.
Early 80s. My '75 didn't have them, my '80 did.
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Old 03-22-13, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
Was it really a controlled study? I would assume that cyclists that use daytime running lights are naturally more cautious and are therefore involved in fewer accidents.
The OP answered this, but I would add that both groups, with and without the lights, were drawn from the same pool of volunteers and assigned randomly to a group.

I hope they can get some funding and find out if the flashing lights used in the study are better than steady on lights. Mine don't flash, though I run red blinkies on the rear to supplement my steady on tail light.
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Old 03-22-13, 03:48 PM
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The idiots don't see the hi beams on my motorcycle during the day - so they wouldn't see any on a bicycle either...............
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