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Save bike? Whats the law?

Old 04-19-13, 01:43 AM
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TheRealWolf
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Save bike? Whats the law?

Hello,
I will go to Seattle for 3 years from Gremany and I take my bike (MTB) with a Child carrier with me. Are there any regularies what a bike has to look like for moving in public traffic such as fixed lights or reflectors or any other things I should know? In Germany we have lots of this regularies for Bicycles so maybe its the same in Washington. And what have I consider for the child carrier?
Best regards, Wolf
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Old 04-19-13, 03:21 AM
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its the wild west compared to germany.

Regulation in washington state only requires a red reflector attached to the seat, (additional red rear lights allowed, but don't forget to keep the reflector on the bike), and a white light on front visible to 500 ft. There are no specific bicycle trailer requirements.

Run additional lights and as much retroreflectivity as you can, seattle is a dark and foggy city. Much of the commuter savvy bike population in the USA uses bike lights set to flash for greater noticeability in traffic.

You'll notice on your first night ride in Seattle that riders with blinking lights are more noticeable than those with steady lights.
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Old 04-19-13, 04:54 AM
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Hello,
thanks for that answer, so I have to replace my front light to something working, reflectors and a rear light red are already mounted, even the carrier has ist own rear light and reflectors by german law. So I think everything is fine.
Is Seattle really so dark and foggy??
Best regards, Wolf
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Old 04-19-13, 10:07 AM
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Herzlich Wilkommen nach Seattle! (I probably screwed that up...)

Not sure where in Germany you're from, but the climate in the Seattle area is almost exactly the same as Hamburg. There are less laws here, but if your bike has all the required lights for Germany, you should be fine on the same bike around here. I wouldn't run without a front (blinky during the day, steady at night) and a rear light and reflector (I run both a steady rear and a blinky rear, but it's not required).

I have an airzound horn on my commuter, but I don't think there are requirements for even a bell here in WA. You should already have one of those, though, and it will be handy on the trails. Pedestrians here aren't as aware of and deferential to bicycles as they are in Germany though. That's one thing I really liked about biking in Hamburg!
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Old 04-19-13, 12:20 PM
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Hello,
thanks for the answer. I live in the very south of Germany near lake constanze, but I know Hamburg pretty good so I can imagine how the weathers gonna be. Somehow similar to Auckland where I have also been, but not with a bike.
I am looking for some flashing lights front and rear to support my steady lights so I will have both. I have a lot of reflectors monted direct on the spokes, maybe I can post a picture of it in one of my next posts. They are much better than the reflectores mount between two spokes and reflect light much better.
So I think im prepared for the foggy northwest with my bike. Only that I need some raingear...
regards from the "far south" of Germany
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Old 04-19-13, 12:41 PM
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I'd get lights that you can quickly detach and take with you when you lock the bike up, even for a couple of minutes.
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Old 04-19-13, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Dchiefransom View Post
I'd get lights that you can quickly detach and take with you when you lock the bike up, even for a couple of minutes.
Or one that is so securely attached (with metal mounting hardware) that it would take a thief tools and time to get it off.




And a note I might add concerning the common use of blinky light by american bicyclists in traffic to make themselves more noticeable something you are probably not used to coming from Germany. It is a good idea but not entirely without a few problems if you use a blinky only. Drivers are indeed far more likely to notice a blinky light and realize you are there and it will help prevent an accident involving a driver of a heavy full sized vehicle hitting you because, "I didn't even realize he was there until I hit him". But it is also true that the human eye has a difficult time "locking onto" a blinking light source and accurately judging the position, direction, and speed of that blinking light source. The eyes "lock onto" a stead on light source much better and allows drivers to accurately judge your position, direction, and speed. With only a blinky light on your rear sometimes drivers of full size heavy vehicles coming up behind you won't realize how close you are and how much slower you are moving compared to them which can result in them having to make a snap decision on whether they can safely pass you right then or if they need to slam on their brakes in order to slow down quickly enough to not rear-end you and wait to pass until it is safe to do so.

Basically a blinky light gets you noticed and really helps to get drivers to realize your there but it is hard for their eyes to "lock onto" and accurately judge your position, direction, and speed to allow them to drive safely around you. A steady on light is not nearly as noticeable and doesn't work well to get other drives to realize you are there but is much better for them if they do see you to accurately judge your position, direction, and speed.

The best solution in my experience at least for a good tail light set-up (I do a lot of night time commuting often in fowl weather) is to use a specific combination of a pair of lights to obtain the best of both worlds. I will use a combination of a red blinky light (preferably at least 50-Lm light output) with a steady on red light mounted about 6 to 12 inches above it that is two to four times as bright (about 140-Lm steady on is about right with a 50-Lm blinky). This works very well for me where the blinky gets other drivers to realize I am there and the brighter steady on light gives them something for their eyes to lock onto for them to accurately judge my position, direction, and speed and they drive much safer around me with that kind of set-up. A bright enough blinky to get their attention and then a brighter steady on light for their eyes to "lock onto" but not so much brighter then the blinky that it drowns it out.

On some of my bikes where I want to keep things down to a minimum and simple I have just those two rear tail lights working together - a single 50-Lm red blinky and a 140-Lm red steady on light. For other bikes I may use more then one pair of lights on the rear and/or use even brighter blinky and steady on lights (but keeping the relative brightness ratio between them the same).

For front lights if you have a front light or set of front lights that put out at least 500-Lm you usually don't need a white or amber colored blinky on the front "to get noticed" since your front headlight is powerful enough to do that but you can certainly add them if you like. I would not suggest using anything brighter then 100-Lm for a single blinky light front or rear after dark because blinky lights can have a blinding effect if they are bright enough. Multiple 50 to 75 Lm blinky lights are better then one bright one after dark to get noticed without having a blinding effect. In daylight you can go up to about 200 to 300 Lm on a blinky without a blinding effect provided the flash rate isn't much faster then about three flashes a second. Don't use red blinky on the front, in U.S. red is the correct color for the rear and white is the correct color for the front. Amber color may be used anywhere (rear, side, front, etc . . .) but hard to find good lights in that color.

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Old 04-19-13, 02:33 PM
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Hallo Wolf! I hope you enjoy your stay in the U.S. I studied at the Goethe-Institut in Staufen im Breisgau and at the Uni in Heidelberg in the '70s during the RAF years. It was pretty exciting. I still have friends in Staufen and another I met touring called Juergen Grieshaber from Singen. Someday I'll return to Germany for more touring and to visit my friends. Viel Vergnuegen in Seattle!
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Old 04-19-13, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRealWolf View Post
Hello,
I will go to Seattle for 3 years from Gremany and I take my bike (MTB) with a Child carrier with me. Are there any regularies what a bike has to look like for moving in public traffic such as fixed lights or reflectors or any other things I should know? In Germany we have lots of this regularies for Bicycles so maybe its the same in Washington. And what have I consider for the child carrier?
Best regards, Wolf
No regulation on child carriers, no legal requirement for a rear light, only required lighting is a headlight and a rear reflector. There's hardly any enforcement of the laws that exist, plenty of riders with no lighting, flashing headlights, or a tail light without a reflector. If your bike meets German regulations, it should more than meet Washington requirements.
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Old 04-20-13, 06:26 AM
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Thank you very much for your answers.
Steady lights I have mounted on my bike, even that tey are running on Batterie what is not conform with law in Germany. So I will get some blinking lights for my bike for beeing better seen. I hope I will not offend somebody when I have the feeling that drivers in the USA are not used to look for all traffic participants like they are in Germany. Here they should be equal, but it works not everytime, but mostly. I think I have to learn a lot aubout foreign traffic .
And for the carrier I think I will mount some more rear Lights and reflectors just to be seen. Maybe there are two of my kids sitting inside of the carrier.
best regards, Wolf
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Old 04-20-13, 12:11 PM
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This might have some useful information for you: https://bicyclealliance.org/growing-b...ton-bike-laws/
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Old 04-20-13, 12:58 PM
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I think the German steady light rule is because they have much more bike traffic than in the US. When there are only one or two blinking lights in your field of view they stand out. When there are twenty or thirty you get a zebra effect and it becomes visually confusing and less safe.
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Old 04-20-13, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRealWolf View Post
Thank you very much for your answers.
Steady lights I have mounted on my bike, even that tey are running on Batterie what is not conform with law in Germany. So I will get some blinking lights for my bike for beeing better seen. I hope I will not offend somebody when I have the feeling that drivers in the USA are not used to look for all traffic participants like they are in Germany. Here they should be equal, but it works not everytime, but mostly. I think I have to learn a lot aubout foreign traffic .
And for the carrier I think I will mount some more rear Lights and reflectors just to be seen. Maybe there are two of my kids sitting inside of the carrier.
best regards, Wolf

Absolutely no offense taken, if anything I and others are trying to inform you, for your own safety of how bad American drivers can be and that in U.S. adding lights to your bike is like adding defensive weapons to your bike. You want the U.S. driver to take notice, you want them to snap to attentions and say "What the heck is that !?!?" in their mind and take a close look at you when they see you. Big problem in U.S. is drivers who do not take their responsibility of driving seriously and are not giving full attention to their driving. Distracted drivers is the common term but a lot of them although not distracted just simply aren't paying attention and are running with only 50% of their brain or less on their driving.

Very good idea to add some lights to the kid carrier trailer as well. Also, in daylight might help to add a large american "Child on Board" yellow diamond sign to the back of your kid trailer with large enough lettering to be easily read by other drivers behind you. Won't help at night but during the day may help, usually most people even bad U.S. drivers are more soft heart towards kids and it may help them drive safer around you.

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Old 04-20-13, 11:04 PM
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Thank you for this answer. As an other defence system we all wear helmets, but against the big american cars I think it will not help. Are there separate lanes for cyclists or do you have to ride all time on the roads with the traffic in Seattle. I read something about 350km of way especially for bicycles so it should be a little less dangerous. In Germany we have some little flag on a 1,80m pole so that you can see it even behind an other car, but if drivers don't care for nothing it willnot help, same it is in Germany. So I think you have to ride carefully and assume attention for the cardrivers too.
best regards, Wolf
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Old 04-21-13, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by TheRealWolf View Post
Thank you for this answer. As an other defence system we all wear helmets, but against the big american cars I think it will not help. Are there separate lanes for cyclists or do you have to ride all time on the roads with the traffic in Seattle. I read something about 350km of way especially for bicycles so it should be a little less dangerous. In Germany we have some little flag on a 1,80m pole so that you can see it even behind an other car, but if drivers don't care for nothing it willnot help, same it is in Germany. So I think you have to ride carefully and assume attention for the cardrivers too.
best regards, Wolf

In the U.S., where they exist, bike lanes, are almost always directly adjoining the right main lane of the road, rather than located some distance away from the road. Bike lanes of this type tend to be of modest width: 5' wide or narrower. They're generally distinguished from the main lane of the road by a simple painted, solid white line.

Some U.S. cities do have limited miles of bike lanes, or bike ways, separate and located away from the main roads, but from what I've heard, nothing like Amsterdam or Copenhagen. We in the U.S. have some miles of what's referred to as MUP (Multi-Use Path): path created for the use of people on foot, and people riding bikes. Some of these MUP's may be located in downtown, but more typically, they're located in outlying neighborhoods, or in the suburbs, or in parks. Some people can work these MUP's into their commute route, but mainly, they're for recreational use.


"... And for the carrier I think I will mount some more rear Lights and reflectors just to be seen. Maybe there are two of my kids sitting inside of the carrier. ..." Wolf, post #10


Excellent idea. Plenty of 2" reflective tape like that used on safety/construction vests is something I've considered.

For indicating turns and stops with hand signals, I think something to make the hands stand out, is good as well.

Last edited by wsbob; 04-21-13 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 04-22-13, 10:25 AM
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It depends on where you are in the Seattle area for bike lanes. In the city proper, a lot of the streets are old and narrow (much like parts of Germany) and there are not bike lanes, but the speed limit is only 25 mph (and there are some brutal hills!). Most places around here have either bike lanes, or sharrows indicating that bikes have just as much right to the road as cars (although drivers are quite impatient at times).

There are also some very good dedicated bike/pedestrian paths in the area (Inter-urban trail, Burt-Gillman, and Centennial trail).
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Old 04-22-13, 11:51 AM
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Hello,
the area where we will live is Greenwood or the surrounding. On google maps it looks quite grenn and without lots of traffic. I don't know how far is is from Seattle but I don't think its too far. As it is in many citys here I don't expect downtown as very friendly for bicycles because of the history of building a city. I don't think it was planned for bikes in the old days.
Reerds, Wolf
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Old 04-22-13, 08:21 PM
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Oh, there's plenty of traffic in Greenwood. Get a Seattle Bike Map from the Seattle Department of Transportation. it will show you the bike friendly routes into and out of town.

Plenty of people bike commute into downtown from Greenwood. Thousands on nice days in the summer. It's a great commute. Dropping down from Greenwood to the Fremont Bridge you will be with thousands of other daily bike commuters.

If you ride to downtown via the Ballard locks, the ride is along the shoreline thru parks and beautiful scenery. Ride back to greenwood on nice days via the park, the ballard locks, Golden Gardens and a hillclimb thru the very quiet neighborhood of North Beach.

You'll enjoy it very, very much.

People in Seattle are generally very good about bicyclists (safety in numbers phenomenon predicates Seattle motorists are aware of bicyclists generally), but there are always plenty of distracted drivers in america, so be aware of that right off!

And seattle is oddly passive aggressive so you'll occasionally hear some anti-bike sentiment thru a car window.

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