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The Dark Side of Bike Commuting...

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The Dark Side of Bike Commuting...

Old 11-13-19, 03:19 PM
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BobbyG
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The Dark Side of Bike Commuting...

Work commitments kept me from riding last week, the first week after the time change. I was able to ride Monday night, and last night (Tuesday) was the first time I rode my "new" Chelton Road route after sunset. The dark parts are not as dark as they look in the video...but even still I found myself trying to remember any specific hazards that may be hard to spot in the shadows. (None)

Also, a half mile of MUP takes me past a homeless camp, and I was worried there would be people loitering on the trail to take advantage of the sparse lighting. I wasn't worried about being in danger, rather I was worried about not seeing people and hitting them, or alarming them. There are a couple of streetlamps on my other routes that attract nocturnal socializing, but I am familiar with where they are. Turns out I had nothing to worry about.

I got a good look at the stop and go traffic on the highway before passing under it, and I saw a couple of red light runners, one of whom triggered the white flash of wrath from the red light camera (Yay!) Monday night I counted four red-light runners. Normally I see one a month, if that. Perhaps the time change has something to do with it.

Also, I rode my main commuter last night with its smooth road tires, but Monday there was a chance of freezing drizzle, so Monday I too my big, heavy MTB-based snow bike with its studded snow tires. It stayed dry, so I pumped up the tires to 70psi, 5 above the recommended max. It made a big difference, and the big bike rolled better than it ever had on the studded tires at 65psi and below.

Here are the highlights from last nights ride

Last edited by BobbyG; 11-14-19 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 11-14-19, 05:56 AM
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I commute by bicycle in the dark only if it’s not raining or foggy and if I know the rout very well. It’s just not safe in my opinion. At least here in the NW. People just don’t obey the traffic laws much anymore and are in to much of a hurry, again here in the NW.

In the bad weather days I’ll take my motorcycle or in really bad days I’ll take the motorcycle with a sidecar.
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Old 11-14-19, 02:11 PM
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I like the finish w/ the doorbell video!
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Old 11-14-19, 04:01 PM
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I like commuting in the dark. Makes me and the cars a lot more visible with proper lights.

Yep, studded tires can roll a lot faster at high PSI when you get those studs off the ground (depending on how many you have).
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Old 11-16-19, 08:02 PM
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I've always enjoyed riding in the dark, either commuting early in the morning or touring across the desert. I agree that when commuting my lights and reflective clothing make me more visible, and usually when it's dark there are fewer people/cars out and about.
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Old 11-18-19, 04:39 PM
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I use 2 1100 lumen Cygolite Metro for commuting in the dark. They allow me to see walkers/runners/riders with no lights or reflectors on the very dark, MUP I take home (Los gatos creek trail for san jose area people) They show bumps in the trail far better than you can see them in daylight
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Old 11-19-19, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
I use 2 1100 lumen Cygolite Metro for commuting in the dark. They allow me to see walkers/runners/riders with no lights or reflectors on the very dark, MUP I take home (Los gatos creek trail for san jose area people) They show bumps in the trail far better than you can see them in daylight
My 500 lumen Niterider Mi-Newt's battery is starting to show signs of battery fatigue. Niterider's newer headlights in the 1000-1200 range seem priced right, and I can click down to a lower level for better lit streets. Got a birthday coming up...and the wife's been asking what I'd like.
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Old 11-22-19, 10:15 AM
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I live in the NW - Farther north than 99% of all Americans (farther north than all states except AK and all major cities in the US) - It gets dark during the 4pm hour between now and sometime in Feb.

You either make your peace with riding at night/crap weather or you mothball your bike for 5-6 months/year.

When I first got in to commuting I think I had delusions of being something other than a nerdy bike commuter. I have since embraced full bike commuting nerd-dom with good fenders, a good, rechargeable 2500 lumen headlight, a 900 lumen helmet light, and flashing red lights on the back of my helmet and on my flat kit under my saddle. I am considering buying a rear rack, since I am already over the commuting nerd cliff....

If your lights are bright enough, commuting at night doesn't feel any more scary than daylight to me. If lights are insufficient, then it's super scary.

Sidebar - anyone take their kids riding at night? My kids love to ride and I think they would love it if they were lit up properly.
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Old 12-31-19, 09:42 AM
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Bought my girlfriend a Showers Pass Odyssey jacket for her ride/walk to work. Jacket is dark grey with subtle lighter grey pattern on it (street maps of major cities, actually). But when hit by light, this is what happens.



Potato photo quality from phone but you can see how reflective the jacket is with direct light (phone flash). When light hits it off-axis it's not nearly as reflective. For comparison, the red light is a PDW blinky light and a forward pointing blinkie on the stem. There are passive reflectors on the wheels, pedals, and her boots.
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Old 10-18-21, 05:05 PM
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Flashing lights , DRL or nite, catch the eye.
A big goodness
I have a big problem with dark flat clothing on joggers and rollerbladers on the MUP when they are without lights , reflectors in flat clothing.
Remember the BloodBladder beast of Trall from HHGG
It couldn't see you so it it thought you couldn't see it.
Just the reverse. "Hey I can see me!, What's your problem?"
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Old 10-19-21, 03:42 PM
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You know, referencing a movie/TV show doesnít always work. I think itís better to write some descriptive words. I have no idea what your are trying to talk about.
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Old 10-19-21, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by john m flores View Post
But when hit by light, this is what happens.
That looks like IllumiNITE. I like Showers Pass jackets; I'm on my second one. THIS ONE in "Firecracker Red" is waterproof and nicely visible. Not reflective though.
The hood fits under my helmet when it's raining hard. I decided years ago that I would never buy another rain jacket without a hood.

Last edited by sweeks; 10-19-21 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 10-19-21, 08:59 PM
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I mostly only ride on the ride in the dark. I have a 800 lumen light running off my ebike battery last year I had a 1200 lumen as a flasher and backup. but I got a new lumps helmet so thats my front flasher. Have a steady taillight again power by the e bike battery and a garmin radar as my flasher and now the lumos has the flashing red lights and turn signals. then a monkey light on the front wheel and lots of reflectors and bright showers pass jacket. we have the same on our tandem but it needs a backup light on a dark path. it has a great front light that only lights the ground but it is just not strong enough for a fully dark path.
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Old 10-20-21, 01:10 AM
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Winter is coming! Charge up those lights
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Old 10-20-21, 07:02 PM
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I love riding in the dark, but I take a few steps to stay safe:

1. I use a really bright headlight.
2. I have a red flashing rear light that flashes in a random pattern (or so).
3. I have a jacket that is completely reflective, or if I do not wear that one, I use a reflective high-visibility vest.
4. I use a Hovding air-bag type helmet.
5. I ride on residential streets and MUPs where I’m less likely to be in car traffic.
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Old 10-20-21, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
I love riding in the dark, but I take a few steps to stay safe:

1. I use a really bright headlight.
2. I have a red flashing rear light that flashes in a random pattern (or so).
3. I have a jacket that is completely reflective, or if I do not wear that one, I use a reflective high-visibility vest.
4. I use a Hovding air-bag type helmet.
5. I ride on residential streets and MUPs where Iím less likely to be in car traffic.
If the rear light is strong enough, better leave it steady. Or have two of them, steady. No nead for flash at night if it's visible and clear, only if you want to irritate them..
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Old 10-20-21, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by holytrousers View Post
If the rear light is strong enough, better leave it steady. Or have two of them, steady. No nead for flash at night if it's visible and clear, only if you want to irritate them..
I have a steady rear light as well.
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Old 10-20-21, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
That looks like IllumiNITE. I like Showers Pass jackets; I'm on my second one. THIS ONE in "Firecracker Red" is waterproof and nicely visible. Not reflective though.
The hood fits under my helmet when it's raining hard. I decided years ago that I would never buy another rain jacket without a hood.
I had the fire cracker red, but it's faded into an orange. I put some reflector tape on it for night riding and now people ask me if I work EMS when I;m not riding.
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Old 10-20-21, 09:06 PM
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I just turn into a bat.........among other things.....

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Old 10-21-21, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
I have a steady rear light as well.
Great ! where do you place them ?
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Old 10-26-21, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by holytrousers View Post
If the rear light is strong enough, better leave it steady. Or have two of them, steady. No nead for flash at night if it's visible and clear, only if you want to irritate them..
Isn't "irritating" drivers the whole point? I mean, the non-ordinary nature of a flashing rear light is what gets their attention. And I want their attention. I also want to hold their attention. I want them to have to pay enough attention to that "irritating" flashing red light that they can't simply make a small adjustment to their course and go back to the text they are writing (because if you pay attention, at least every 5th car has a distracted driver these days, if not more. And I'm paying attention).
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Old 10-27-21, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by holytrousers View Post
Great ! where do you place them ?
In my case, Iím able to run 4 facing rear:

1 on helmet which I can activate to different modes while riding. USB recharge
1 on seat post USB recharge
1+1 on panniers rechargeable AAA batteries

I set up the seat post and pannier modes depending on conditions. I run at least 1 solid at night. The USB turn off on low battery while the AAA go dim.

I rode in rain today in daylight and when I got to my destination my seat post light was dead. Having 4 ensures something is on.
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Old 11-02-21, 09:13 AM
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I have to be to work early enough that even in the summer, it's usually dark going to work. I run a bright front light, bright flashing rear mounted high on my cargo deck, a front blinking hub light (increases side visibility) and usually have reflective clothing aside form the various reflective materials on the bike. Some of my riding is on the streets but I stick with side streets that dont have much traffic. There is a short stretch of two-lane and I take the lane there because I have no other choice, however the posted speeds are lower there. Usually more sketchy in that stretch during the day than at night. Been doing this for two years now and havent had any issues so far
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Old 11-02-21, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by holytrousers View Post
Great ! where do you place them ?
in the rear!
gm
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Old 11-03-21, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by tim24k View Post
I commute by bicycle in the dark only if itís not raining or foggy and if I know the rout very well. Itís just not safe in my opinion. At least here in the NW. People just donít obey the traffic laws much anymore and are in to much of a hurry, again here in the NW.

In the bad weather days Iíll take my motorcycle or in really bad days Iíll take the motorcycle with a sidecar.
Reminds me of when I lived in the bay area of nor cal. Never had a problem with angry motorists or felt in danger riding my bike on the road till the bay. Was hit by cars (once put me in the hospital) 3 times in two years. That was it for me - done riding on roads. Now, back in the midwest, it's a totally different bike experience and I'm back on the roads. Just another reason to GTFO cali
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