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Old 12-14-17, 01:14 PM   #26
robertorolfo
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Interestingly, I have at least one friend who is annoyed at the bike lanes and liked riding in the city before the lanes came in. I do see his point, and as an experienced cyclist, I would be OK without them. They don't make me feel safer. They just make me feel legitimized.
Ok, I can see that, but does your mentality change significantly when riding in regular traffic/streets compared to the lanes? Is your friend, and are you, trusting of the various cabbies and Uber moron that will be regularly overtaking you?

As I said, I enjoy my forays in regular traffic and rides on streets without lanes, but I wouldn't want to do it all the time.


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Originally Posted by KD5NRH
IMO, the most disappointing development (or rather lack thereof) has been that no one has crushed the pathetic button-cell-powered "naively think you might be seen" light category by putting out something useful at a similar price point and getting it into the big box stores where most casual riders shop. I really hate the tiny, pathetic <50 lumen headlights and often <20 lumen taillights that are being marketed to people who never think to go look at how they actually perform in traffic
Um, I'm riding around with an 11 lumen, yes 11, headlight from Target. I'm never on completely unlit roads or paths, but I don't know if that makes it better or worse? Is it easier to see a light in complete darkness?

Anyway, I met up with my GF a few months ago, and she had the exact same light on the front of her bike (flashing). I was able to see her from close to a block away. Seemed more than good enough for me.

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Unfortunately, too many bikeshare setups seem to be almost flat out anti-utility; small, poorly designed front baskets...

Slap some half-a-shopping-cart sized baskets on the back of x% of the bikes and offer a single 90 minute ride once a week without extra charge for each pass, and then folks can actually use it more like a car.
Oh man, that brings back some really fond memories of my "paper bike." The bike my brother and I used to delivery newspapers along our neighborhood route. Thing was a beast and super useful. Of course our mother surreptitiously got rid of it once we were both out of the house... and we still bug her about it.

Totally agree about the 30 minute limit on bike shares. Almost makes the whole thing pointless.
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Old 12-14-17, 01:18 PM   #27
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When I see people using those anemic bike lights, I am tempted to tell them that their light-shaped-objects do not do the job they think they do. But I don't.

I'm pretty experienced at riding in heavy traffic, so "trust" isn't really a concept I use much. I try to predict what others are about to do, and I try to be predictable. Cabbies have known incentives, so it's fairly easy to guess what they'll do. Lately, I expect them to cut me off, and often, they end up waiting for me, so we have a cycle of being "too nice" to each other. So this is one thing that is starting to change.
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Old 12-14-17, 03:17 PM   #28
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I am still a bit old fashioned in regards to my bikes. None of them is younger than 15 years... Steel frames, rim brakes, internal hub gears, .... Good old reliable stuff which lasts and is easy to maintain
For me personally the biggest changes have been:
- Helmets. They just were not around when I was a kid or a teenager.
- LED lights. I am still running dynamos on some of my bikes. But by swapping out the old style 6V regular bulb lights with modern LED lights made a huge difference.
- Recumbent bicycles. I fell in love with them. Back in 70s and 80s they basically did not exist.
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Old 12-14-17, 05:03 PM   #29
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We're more visible now than we used to be (at least the ones here), but drivers are more oblivious than they used to be. When drivers see us they seem more aware of our presence and our reason for being there now than they did when I started bike commuting 10 years ago, but the oblivious drivers are more distracted now with their phones and in car electronics. These are the drivers I worry about the most, the ones that see me but don't respond aren't as scary in my opinion.
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Old 12-14-17, 05:47 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
When I see people using those anemic bike lights, I am tempted to tell them that their light-shaped-objects do not do the job they think they do. But I don't.
Serious question, and genuinely not trying to sound adversarial, but what is the job you think they should do? And I'm talking specifically about NYC. These lights are small and don't have a high number of lumens, but both front and rear will be, at night, noticeable to anyone looking in the general direction at at least 50 meters/yards.

For overtaking riders and cars, we are both traveling in the same direction, so that affords added reaction time. Anyone coming in the opposite direction should be in a different lane, and not reaction should even be necessary.

I'm just curious as to everyone's point of view. I consider my lights to be a way of making me noticeable to other road users, nothing more, nothing less. Like a moving light house, if you will. And I just don't see how these little LED's, even with their meager lumen counts fail to do that.
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Old 12-14-17, 07:58 PM   #31
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I rode a bike as a kid in PA and OH, in Junior and HS in Baltimore, adn then in HS and college part 1 in NJ/NY... then moved to Windsor Ontario and didn't own a car, heck moved to MI and though I owned a car it barely got used except for groceries and big trips. I had a special bike.. a 10 speed with a small frame so I could use larger wheels (standard size) because I am just 5 ft tall.. I rode that thing until the mid 90's a LOT.. then at some point had a winter with no indoor parking and the tarp got pulled off of it, and couldn't get it back in decent shape. went without a bike for about 5 years.. then DH and I bought hybrids with our tax returns- again 10 speeds, but a much lighter frame and it didn't seem to take something extra to find standard tires but my toes could touch the ground anymore... I rode that and even commuted on it sometimes, (I worked a lot of second shifts back then, so sometimes i'd ride the bike in, ride it home at lunch and drive back or when I was working a different shift...) then I got sick... and vertigo caused a fall on a main road.. I hadn't ridden again until I got on the trike last month..

A few changes over the years- much better lights, and I don't remember mirrors being an option.. helmets were much more of a joke.. and we never had bike paths, now we do.....

If I before daylight commute with the new trike next fall/winter, I'll need a light that is bright enough to light my path... or it won't work.. so I am hoping those now exist.
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Old 12-15-17, 03:37 PM   #32
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@robertorolfo, no offense taken. The job of those teeny little lights is to be seen, and I notice them because I'm keenly interested in cyclists' equipment and because I'm very close to them, being on a narrow path. I contend that they are utterly invisible to motorists. They don't put out a significant amount of light. And to offer perspective, I'm not a power maven. My lights are meager compared with lights of others here on BF, as I use dynamo powered lights. They're enough for me, and I know others can see them.
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Old 12-15-17, 04:02 PM   #33
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Yeah lights and blinkies.

I've been commuting since about 1983.
I had a bigass Belt Beacon - about the size of a tuna can, used a 9-volt battery and an incandescent bulb that flashed once a second.

Oh - here it is... you may all commiserate with me now.


I don't remember what I had for the front, but it was big and heavy and not very bright.
I used three of those, mounted on an aluminum plate... mounted to my Brooks saddle. I wired them all together so I only used one switch and had to change one battery...

LED flashers are now much less power hungry, and vastly brighter.

Back when I was using that Belt Beacon set up, I also had a front light powered by a Sanyo top of the wheel generator... much less load than those sidewheel generators... and I took out the limit circuits, so it got a lot brighter going down hill (speed increased, so needed to see farther). (yeah, I burned out a bulb now and then... but had a little D cell back up light to limp home)

Now I use a wonderful NiMH front light that I only need to charge once in a while and it makes great light.

What else has changed since I started bike commuting? Well I started in the 60s... and there was vastly less traffic back then... in the 70s we had a national speed limit of 55MPH; in the 80s SUVs were born and speed limits went up. In the 90s cell phones were introduced and more bike lanes started appearing. In the 2000s smart phones and touch screens added to all the other distractions in the car... I stopped bike commuting about 2010, and retired in 2015.
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Old 12-15-17, 07:29 PM   #34
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I used to bike in the door zone all the time. I've never been doored. Now I cycle clear of the door zone and scan all the parked cars as I ride by.

Back then, when you hold your arm out to signal left, the car behind you would zoom past. Nowadays, most would let you in.
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Old 12-16-17, 12:38 AM   #35
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I didn't start commuting by bike until 2010. I live in Nor Cal Bay Area where "biking lives matter". I think road redevelopment takes bikers into account and they try to create safe bike lanes. Labeling the bike lanes with the green bike friendly paint is common. They paved a couple of miles of one of the streets that I commute on and they put green bike lane markings! Solid-green bike lanes spreading across Bay Area ? The Mercury News The "paint" (these are actually sheets of something) has gritty bits in it so that it is not a hazard when wet. It doesn't rain here often, I don't ride in the rain and am still careful when these are wet.

I've always been a fan of good lights at night but in the last two years I've become an huge fan of daytime lights.

While there are still idiots out there on the road, I find there are plenty of drivers who are respectful of bikers. I always wave to thank drivers who give me the right of way, even when I had the right of way by law.
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Old 12-16-17, 12:55 AM   #36
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These lights are small and don't have a high number of lumens, but both front and rear will be, at night, noticeable to anyone looking in the general direction at at least 50 meters/yards.
Looking, probably, but most people don't really look that much; they glance, at best. You need to be able to get the attention of the guy who glances around before going through a yield or stop sign and looking back down at his phone, or briefly scans his eyes across the wing mirror before throwing his door open. Your not-even-the-output-of-a-standard-candle headlight isn't going to do that.

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Anyone coming in the opposite direction should be in a different lane, and not reaction should even be necessary.
Should be, but I've had plenty of people cut across to curb park the wrong way, or pull out to pass another car whether it's legal there or not. They're looking for hundreds of lumens from car or (if they're actually attentive enough) motorcycle headlights, not some pathetic toy. The most common low beam is rated at 700 lumens per bulb, so 1400 for a normal car. 11 lumens is more like a dashboard indicator, which is meant to be seen from 2-3 feet away. You're counting on drivers doing the equivalent of spotting another car's high beam indicator from a hundred yards away.

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Old 12-16-17, 01:13 AM   #37
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Um, I'm riding around with an 11 lumen, yes 11, headlight from Target. I'm never on completely unlit roads or paths, but I don't know if that makes it better or worse? Is it easier to see a light in complete darkness?
Ever looked up in the sky? When is it easier to see stars, midnight or noon?

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Anyway, I met up with my GF a few months ago, and she had the exact same light on the front of her bike (flashing). I was able to see her from close to a block away. Seemed more than good enough for me.
You were looking for a specific small light. Drivers aren't.
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Old 12-16-17, 01:32 AM   #38
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Here's a blog link (not mine) to what's changed where I live, but I've only started commuting this summer, so I haven't really experienced all this.

https://averagejoecyclist.com/amazin...nfrastructure/

Also I'm told bikes weren't allowed on buses and skytrain (light rail) back in the day.
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Old 12-17-17, 11:17 AM   #39
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I'm just curious as to everyone's point of view. I consider my lights to be a way of making me noticeable to other road users, nothing more, nothing less. Like a moving light house, if you will. And I just don't see how these little LED's, even with their meager lumen counts fail to do that.
They are much better than nothing, and acceptable as a temporary measure. I don't have the point of view that brighter is always better, or that you need expensive lights. I don't spend more than $15 or $20 on a bike light, front or back. But those little department store lights are too dim IMO.
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Old 12-17-17, 11:21 AM   #40
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I've only been commuting since 2007, and it's changed a lot for me personally but I'm interested in the changes that the long-time commuters have seen. Infrastructure? Attitudes? I know that there is a lot more traffic now than in the 70's, has that made a major difference?
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Old 12-18-17, 04:04 PM   #41
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The guy on the bike lane stencil is now wearing a hat.

Lights are better.

The local contractor who who always complains about bikes on the road at the corner pub has just designed a bike rack system for the pub patio, and made a prototype, on his own time.

Bike choices and accessories for commuting are overwhelming.
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Old 12-18-17, 04:45 PM   #42
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I commuted in Portland when I was a kid (1980 time-frame). I had a Free Spirit, then later a Univega. No bike lanes at that time, I think my parents bought me one of the first bike helmets made, which I wore (never been overly fashion conscious). I can't remember if I had lights back then, but I'm pretty sure I rode at night. I remember drafting cars and trucks whenever possible to keep up with traffic as best as I could.


Today I ride a number of relatively fancy bikes and have the luxury of bike paths very close to my house and work, so my commute is mostly free of cars, and I'm very much OK with that. Obviously there's a lot of stuff that's changed in 40 years - bikes, lights, laws, smart phones, bike lanes, etc. However I think there are far more similarities than differences - it's a simple mode of getting from point A to B, you're much more self-reliant, which is kind of cool. Getting somewhere on a bicycle provides me a sense of accomplishment that never happens when I do the same trip in a car. For me it's cheaper than a therapist and a lot more fun.
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Old 12-18-17, 04:47 PM   #43
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I've been commuting for about 15 years and the differences I see the most are.............................


1) Texting drivers* are becoming increasingly dangerous
2) Bike technology (disc brakes, etc.), superior lighting options, clothing technology including head and footwear (huge one here) all have jumped leaps and bounds
3) Bike lanes are increasing both good and bad. There are more of them here in Chicago but some of the new ones push the rider directly on/into the curb increasing the chance to get injured, have someone walk out in front of you, get doored by a passenger side door, getting hit by drivers making a right hand turn that cannot see you, making you ride through the winter/garbage/sharps run off to the curb, forcing the riders to go over curbside drains, denying the rider an "out" with an impending accident type of situation.
4) There are more commuters than ever now, especially with the Bike Shares.
5) Because of this ^^^^ there is more awareness from drivers in the more congested biking neighborhoods/areas.





*brain dead
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Old 12-18-17, 06:59 PM   #44
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Looking, probably, but most people don't really look that much; they glance, at best. You need to be able to get the attention of the guy who glances around before going through a yield or stop sign and looking back down at his phone, or briefly scans his eyes across the wing mirror before throwing his door open. Your not-even-the-output-of-a-standard-candle headlight isn't going to do that.

Should be, but I've had plenty of people cut across to curb park the wrong way, or pull out to pass another car whether it's legal there or not. They're looking for hundreds of lumens from car or (if they're actually attentive enough) motorcycle headlights, not some pathetic toy. The most common low beam is rated at 700 lumens per bulb, so 1400 for a normal car. 11 lumens is more like a dashboard indicator, which is meant to be seen from 2-3 feet away. You're counting on drivers doing the equivalent of spotting another car's high beam indicator from a hundred yards away.
I think you are exaggerating a bit, or maybe the lumen count on the packaging is incorrect, but the light is way, way brighter than a dashboard indicator light. It's not even in the same league.

And that's why I also prefer the flash. If it were solid (and even intense) as a car headlight, a driver glancing in his side view mirror might not notice it because it would blend with the background "noise" of all the passing cars (because there is always a mix of cars and bikes here). A blinking light might have more chance of being noticed in that situation.

This also brings up the issue of drivers misreading a light. By that I mean that they could see a light, and interpret it as something else. For example, a while ago I mentioned that they stopped producing dual motorcycle headlights, because if you glance at them quickly they could appear to be a car's two headlights at a further distance away. So, for the same reason, even a single bright headlight could be misinterpreted as something (a motorcycle or car with a headlight out) at further distance away.

There are a million variables, and that's why no matter what lighting system you are using, or not using, defensive riding is always a must. You always have to be ready for people to do the unexpected. It's not easy on busy streets, or in an urban environment, but that's the reality of it, and the best defense you have. I spent many years riding and commuting by motorcycle, and you can be sure that I was weary of very single person waiting to make a left turn from the opposite lane when I was alone in my own lane, and in many cases ready to come to a stop if the situation was particularly dangerous.

Ditto U-turns and other unexpected maneuvers. Experience helps, but sometimes you are really trying to predict the unpredictable. Sometimes you are trying to interpret the slightest and smallest clues coming from drivers. And even then, sometimes there is just nothing you can do.

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Ever looked up in the sky? When is it easier to see stars, midnight or noon?

You were looking for a specific small light. Drivers aren't.
Obviously, but it works both ways and the analogy is somewhat flawed. The stars don't have much larger bikes and riders that they are affixed to. If there is enough ambient light to diminish the brightness of the bike light, which is often the case in NY, then that light also makes the rest of the package (bike and rider) more visible.

And no, I didn't see her light because I was looking specifically for it, I saw it because it was noticeable. In a sea of steady lights, it was flashing. And it was flashing bright enough to be seen at over 50 yards on a well lit, urban street.

Here is a pretty funny video demonstrating the exactly lights I am using. Tell me they are as bright as a dashboard light...
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Old 12-18-17, 11:47 PM   #45
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I think you are exaggerating a bit, or maybe the lumen count on the packaging is incorrect, but the light is way, way brighter than a dashboard indicator light. It's not even in the same league.
The cheap LED dashboard lights are rated 13-19 lumens per Grainger's specs.

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And that's why I also prefer the flash. If it were solid (and even intense) as a car headlight, a driver glancing in his side view mirror might not notice it because it would blend with the background "noise" of all the passing cars (because there is always a mix of cars and bikes here). A blinking light might have more chance of being noticed in that situation.
A blinking light may not even be on at the moment a driver's glance passes over their mirror. If you're going to do any flashing pattern, it's much better to go with a light that has several emitters flashing in sequence so there's always at least one on.

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Obviously, but it works both ways and the analogy is somewhat flawed. The stars don't have much larger bikes and riders that they are affixed to. If there is enough ambient light to diminish the brightness of the bike light, which is often the case in NY, then that light also makes the rest of the package (bike and rider) more visible.
That's still dependent on contrast between the rider's clothes and surrounding scene. Camouflage works in all light conditions.

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And no, I didn't see her light because I was looking specifically for it, I saw it because it was noticeable. In a sea of steady lights, it was flashing. And it was flashing bright enough to be seen at over 50 yards on a well lit, urban street.
You still knew what it looked like and wanted to see it. Not the same as picking out and identifying an unfamiliar light source while driving in traffic.

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Here is a pretty funny video demonstrating the exactly lights I am using. Tell me they are as bright as a dashboard light... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGjuwsTUvQ4
OK, let's compare:


His lights aren't as bright or obvious as the reflections on the windows and body metal of the parked cars. Then when he's got them flashing straight into the lens of the camera, it's completely meaningless; the camera will show any light as intensely bright when the rest of the scene is black like that.
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Old 12-19-17, 12:07 AM   #46
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oh, everyone lay off about the stupid blinkies
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Old 12-19-17, 12:38 PM   #47
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...You still knew what it looked like and wanted to see it. Not the same as picking out and identifying an unfamiliar light source while driving in traffic...
Look, I'm not entirely sure what you are trying to argue at this point.

All I am saying is that, first and foremost, I ride like I am invisible to cars. That is the baseline behavior. Always act as if they did not and will not see you. The lights are just a bonus at that point; so if your usual avoidance isn't sufficient for some reason, the lights will hopefully get their attention.

And I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on the visibility of the blinking "little" LED. Against a sea of solid headlights, it will stand out. Against a black/dark background, it will stand out. And anybody that "checks" for lights so quickly that they will miss a blink is out for blood, and so you have to rely on your underlying rule: pretend you are invisible.
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Old 12-19-17, 12:41 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
oh, everyone lay off about the stupid blinkies
srsly, I've had enough of this thread, peace out
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Old 12-19-17, 03:59 PM   #49
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This illustrates another thing that's changed for me. When I was a kid we just rode our bikes to get places because that's what we did. Now we take to the internet to tell others they're doing it wrong when they ride!
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Old 12-19-17, 08:37 PM   #50
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I was pulling out of a parking space one night, and a cyclist comes by cursing at me. So I pull beside him and tell him to get a light, and maybe you'll be seen. (And I was all the way out of the space before he came beside me.) He says he has a light, which I see is one of those Knog lights with an old battery, and I just say back, that's a fffing candle.

Just yesterday I was waiting for my wife, also in my car, and someone else had come out of the same meeting. She was wearing a dim white light around her waist, and she was going to get on her bike with the light pointing down. I wanted to say something to her but didn't.

I found a light on the street, something similar to the knog, and I played around with it and they just don't give off enough light to be useful. Not even to be seen by pedestrians, never mind drivers.

If you really want to be seen, get a light that you can see with a broad beam. My commuter has a Cyo Premium dynamo light on it, my roadie has a blinding light on it that I keep on low and point down. You can't miss either one.
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