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Cycling in the dark

Old 09-17-15, 12:56 PM
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Cycling in the dark

Hi! I'm currently researching safety and visibility of cyclists at night for a project I am doing and I was wondering if you could tell me: How do you ensure you are visible at night (which products and how many, perhaps lights or luminous jackets)? How well do these products work? Roughly how much money have you spent on these?
Thanks
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Old 09-17-15, 01:00 PM
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40 bones for a decent set of lights (front and rear), 20 bones for a decent fluorescent vest or jacket. Those things do it for most of us. I think you will find that more people are willing to spend some more cash on a front light.
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Old 09-18-15, 05:50 AM
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This is all personal preference but for me, on my commuter bike, I have:

A front light that has a lot of functions
A tail light
Each spoke has three sets of reflective tape
I have reflective tape on my panniers
I have side lights made from runner lights for trucks.

On me, I have a helmet light that is powerful
I use reflective vest at dark or when it is raining

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-18-15, 08:18 AM
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Good multi setting front light
Good multi setting rear light
Cycling clothing that has reflective bits on it
Backpack that has reflective bits on it
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Old 09-18-15, 10:43 AM
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two lights up front - 1 set to flash (check local regulations), one solid and very bright.
three lights on the back- red Flashers on the frame and my helmet, solid red on the rear rack.

In the dark - I wear the classic construction worker vest, hi-viz yellow with the reflective strips.
$7 at Home Depot.



I also have a wind-breaker I got from 'Alert-Shirt'
ANSI Class 3 Windbreaker Rain Jacket with Hood
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Old 09-18-15, 12:06 PM
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White light up front, red rear, both dynamo powered, neither blinking. Red reflector rear, white front, yellow on both sides of pedals, and reflective white sidewalls. No special clothing, hi-viz, helmet, or anything else.

More important, I only ride on segregated bikeways at dusk, night, and dawn. Not on the road playing dodgecar with 4000 lb weapons.
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Old 09-18-15, 02:35 PM
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A reflective vest is an extremely effective measure. IF in a situation where it works, it's one of the best measures around. However, it is NEVER sufficient alone. If an approaching car's headlights are not hitting it, it's not lit up. This can happen on corners and curves for instance.

"In the dark" means various things, you should elaborate. Riding at night in a city with street lighting may mean that you just need "be seen" lighting, a modest front and rear flasher may be enough. I ride in pitch black conditions in rural areas without even houses for big stretches, through woods on 50 to 60 MPH roads. I need a lot of light, typically I ride with 500 lumen front lights ($30 to $50).

It also depends on the drivers in your area. On the roads I have ridden for the last 12 years, I felt OK with a strong rear light of about 60 lumens (about $30), heck I had a 30 lumen rear light up until the last 2 or 3 years and I was OK. However I will soon be riding on a road known for distracted drivers, and after having checked the road out, I went out and spent $250 on a rear light that's bright enough to light the bushes on fire, and if I still get close calls, I'm willing to buy police lighting solutions and/or mount lights on vertical poles so that more than just the car behind me can see it.

For most people, a $50 or so lighting package and a $5 vest from Ikea or Harbor Freight will be more than sufficient.

I have spent probably $1000 over the years if you go all the way back to years before LEDs were bright enough to see by and I was using halogen and HID lighting.
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Old 09-18-15, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by pressed001
40 bones for a decent set of lights (front and rear), 20 bones for a decent fluorescent vest or jacket. Those things do it for most of us. I think you will find that more people are willing to spend some more cash on a front light.
Depends on what you mean by "decent".

I had to drive to work 3 nights ago...I honestly didn't see the guy on his bike in the street in the outside lane until he was lit up underneath a sodium street light. Which luckily was a few hundred meters of warning.

Guy did almost everything right (almost meaning no safety-colored clothing-just streetish clothes). Had helmet and lights on, as it turned out...but his rear light was so dim it was washed out in the street lighting and didn't do much good unless you ere directly behind him and within 40 meters of his wheel. Which if I wasn't driving defensively and a cyclist could have been way to late.
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Old 09-18-15, 05:16 PM
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After a couple of instances where I barely made it to my destination on a dwindling battery charge, and hating the need to sometimes run my lights at their lowest level to ration battery life, I'm making the move to dyno headlights for my long-distance bike.
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Old 09-18-15, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by pressed001
40 bones for a decent set of lights (front and rear), 20 bones for a decent fluorescent vest or jacket. Those things do it for most of us. I think you will find that more people are willing to spend some more cash on a front light.
20 is steep for a vest. Ikea and Harbor Freight both have $5 vests that I have tested to be as bright as my brother's fireman's call-out equipment, even after 4 years of use and a bunch of washings. They're so cheap I buy 3 or 4 at a time and keep them in all the cars and give them away.

PATRULL Reflective vest - L/yellow - IKEA
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Old 09-18-15, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by RPerry99
Hi! I'm currently researching safety and visibility of cyclists at night for a project I am doing and I was wondering if you could tell me: How do you ensure you are visible at night (which products and how many, perhaps lights or luminous jackets)? How well do these products work? Roughly how much money have you spent on these?
Thanks
I have five lights. All cost about $20 each, Two are on my helmet, three on the bike. Two point forward, three point to the rear. Rear facing lights are all strobes: two red, one yellow. Front light on handle bar is a head light; the helmet light is a strobe. I feel perfectly safe in pitch black.

In cooler weather I wear a safety vest or reflective jacket. I wear a white T-shirt on warmer days.
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Old 09-18-15, 08:08 PM
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Reflective: ANSI class II reflective vest (~$20) with more diy reflective bands added. DIY reflective ankle bands. Reflective band on saddle bag.
Rear Lights: Dinotte 400R or an old Dinotte mystery (160R?) that isn't quite as bright (as in blinding) but definitely does the job. Sometimes a supernova dyno rear. I think the Dinottes cost about $200 each, including batteries.
Front lights: 1 dyno supernova headlight ($150?) if I'm on that bike plus at least one 1200 lumen el cheapo ($25) Chinese light (with a spare battery) and an old 160 lumen Dinotte.

At times I may add a 2W rear light on my helmet ($35) and even some cheap button lights on panniers, but not very often.

I ride many thousands of miles per year at night. I've never felt that any motorist failed to see me. I do have to remember to dim those 1200 lumen lights when there is oncoming traffic. That usually prompts motorists to do the same for me.
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Old 09-18-15, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
After a couple of instances where I barely made it to my destination on a dwindling battery charge, and hating the need to sometimes run my lights at their lowest level to ration battery life, I'm making the move to dyno headlights for my long-distance bike.
I get 3 hours out of my charge on the headlight. My strobes last for weeks on two AAA batteries in each.

Correction: two AA in my yellow strobe. It's a lot bigger and brighter than the other strobe lights.
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Old 09-18-15, 08:29 PM
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I'm riding pretty much along the same lines as B. Carfree. Don't remember the exact prices so below are approximate

Scotch lite reflective tape on back fender and crank arms. ($5)
Reflective vest (winter) reflective suspender type thing (summer) ($10 - $20)
Dinotte 400R rear light ($200)
Niter Rider lumina 650 - usually ride in the medium mode ($120)

The only times that I've thought cars don't see me usually involve rain and cars approaching from a side street coming off a stop sign where they don't quite plan on a complete stop and don't expect a cyclist. (think 35 degree rainy night)
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Old 09-18-15, 08:48 PM
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I use 2 rear lights, one blinking, one steady. Steady helps with being able to easily track where I am, blinking gets the eyes attention as movement. Also I always use 2 rear lights because if one stops working you would not know, having 2 lights makes it almost impossible to have both of them fail at the same time.

I use 1 front light, if I wanted more visibility I'd use a second blinking front light, and use a blinking front light in the daytime as well (I usually bike on paths so it's not necessary).

Personally I don't really believe in reflective vests. As a driver I just haven't found them terrible useful. A blinking light bright enough to be seen is far more visible, and with people with vests I've either already seen them or I haven't and their vest doesn't seem to help.

The only exception is, 1 guy had a reflective vest with the reflective stripes on the back in the shape of a skeleton. It really stood out to my brain as "that's a person".

I've seen some bikes around town lit up like these:


It looks really cool...I'm not sure if it makes you more visible from behind though.

There is a theory that a overly bright rear blinking light makes you safer. I'm very torn myself - it's a little rude, but at the same time when driving it usually makes me want to change lanes away from the bike, so maybe it works? I'm really torn about it.

I don't think overly bright front lights help. That's my opinion as a driver. Rear lights have an effect, front lights though just tick me off and reasonably power blinking front lights I find more visible and identify someone as a bike more anyways.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Apart from basic lighting (2 rear lights, 1 front light) most of my bike safety is about choosing the route. I'm fortunate enough to have a number of off-street bike trails here in Minneapolis, Mn that I often ride. When those aren't available, I usually choose a side street running parallel to a main street and avoid riding on any main or high traffic streets. Despite politicians always choosing to put bike lanes on high traffic streets...I think the side streets are safer.

Like it or not, if you simply don't interact with 2 ton machines that can run you over, you seem to be safer.
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Old 09-18-15, 09:16 PM
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Rear light are getting more and more powerful, but all of them are TINY. I wonder if it's better to have a lager tail light vs a smaller brighter taillight. I use 2 led light sticks rigged onto my rack I like how they are bigger, but they aren't super bright would even hazard a guess to watts. Anyone come across any info?
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Old 09-18-15, 09:38 PM
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Well, I try not to ride at night if I can help it. My morning commute in winter is dark, but not heavily trafficked.

I use a Serfis 250 light on the front and a B&M solid red light on the back. I have reflective tires, and I wear a yellow safety vest with reflective strips on it. Probably $100 on the lights and $15 on the vest/

I've seen drivers start to pull out, then see the big yellow guy on a bike coming, and they wait.
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Old 09-19-15, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
20 is steep for a vest. Ikea and Harbor Freight both have $5 vests that I have tested to be as bright as my brother's fireman's call-out equipment, even after 4 years of use and a bunch of washings. They're so cheap I buy 3 or 4 at a time and keep them in all the cars and give them away.

PATRULL Reflective vest - L/yellow - IKEA


Yeah. My co-workers talk smack when I wear mine. But this time of year and further into winter, it is almost a necessity.

I also spent 40 more bones on a very good fluorescent wind-breaker.
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Old 09-19-15, 03:24 AM
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SOLAS marine reflective tape on mudguards and panniers. This is seriously good and relatively inexpensive stuff. Reflective strips velcroed around each ankle. Flashing reflective armband. Reflective Sam Brown belt. Very expensive mtb front light used at one of its lower settings (full power would dazzle oncoming drivers if used on-road). Six LED cateye rear light, 3 steady, 3 blinking. If you saw me at night you'd think you were being ridden down by a Christmas tree, I'm conspicuous.
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Old 09-19-15, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by nasabiker
Rear light are getting more and more powerful, but all of them are TINY. I wonder if it's better to have a lager tail light vs a smaller brighter taillight....Anyone come across any info?
Lightman strobe lights have large lenses, use 2 AA. They have Xenon and LED. The Xenon strobe lights are said to be very bright but batteries may run out fast.
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Old 09-19-15, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by vol
Lightman strobe lights have large lenses, use 2 AA. They have Xenon and LED. The Xenon strobe lights are said to be very bright but batteries may run out fast.
Yep. My yellow lens strobe is a lightman. It's attached to my seat post saddle bag. Very bright. Batteries last about 6-8 hours of use before the blinker slows down too much to be effective.
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Old 09-19-15, 05:36 AM
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Right now my morning commute is in the dark. I'm a newbie and only about 10 weeks into biking to work. My sister recently purchased a electric bike from a LBS and the owner had just come back from a Trade show with a couple of these https://www.visijax.com/products/led-jackets-and-gilets/ she sold me one for half price and I really like it. It is really bright. I also use a Thunderbolt Tail Light and a NiteRider Micro 250 headlight.
Using a USB to charge all these things is nice but can also be a chore.
Just as a note:
My co-workers who pass me say they can see me from a good distance before they pass me.
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Old 09-19-15, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by baron von trail
Yep. My yellow lens strobe is a lightman. It's attached to my seat post saddle bag. Very bright. Batteries last about 6-8 hours of use before the blinker slows down too much to be effective.
You have the Xenon light? I used to have the LED ones, whose batteries last a long time on strobe mode. (I recall the reason I didn't buy the Xenon was that they don't have the constant-on mode, only strobe.) The only thing is they are so big to put in bags if I take them off while parking the bike outside.
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Old 09-20-15, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by RPerry99
Hi! I'm currently researching safety and visibility of cyclists at night for a project I am doing and I was wondering if you could tell me: How do you ensure you are visible at night (which products and how many, perhaps lights or luminous jackets)? How well do these products work? Roughly how much money have you spent on these?
Thanks
Stating the obvious: asking here will give you only a very limited sample. Best information will come from sitting on street corners and other places where lots of bikes pass by at night and see for yourself. Go to some bike shops and see what they sell. Internet searches will give you a good idea of how much stuff costs.
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Old 09-20-15, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by RPerry99
... How do you ensure you are visible at night (which products and how many, perhaps lights or luminous jackets)?

Front & rear lights, reflective ankle bands(some worn on my wrist), light colored shirt, reflective jacket, pants w/ reflective stripe.

How well do these products work?

Very good.

Roughly how much money have you spent on these?

Anywhere from US$0(reflective bands from charity events/shops) to over US$200 for a Lezyne Mega Drive light.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G74...IoDLA&index=19

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