Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

My Biggest Danger - Unlit Cyclists

Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

My Biggest Danger - Unlit Cyclists

Old 11-09-05, 02:10 PM
  #1  
janzenj
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My Biggest Danger - Unlit Cyclists

I always say that the biggest danger to me during my morning commute is the portion of the ride I spend riding on the city's bicycle paths, particularly the portions without ambient lighting. Cyclists riding without any lighting at all may be closing on me at high speed. They can me and my 12 watts of halogen power beaming at them, but as is often the case, they'll be completely non-reflective, so I can't see them till they're right in front of me. Is anyone else tempted to yell something obscene as they pass in the night? I usually leave it at "Get a light!". I haven't uttered any expletives so far.

At least on the road I can see all the vehicles around me, and other cyclists are not a danger to me.

Considering that the cost of a cheap flasher is about the price of a latte and a muffin, why aren't all cyclists so equipped (with a flasher, not a latte)?
janzenj is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 02:13 PM
  #2  
jumpr
Resident Wolverine
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Maryland
Posts: 172

Bikes: 2004 Lemond Tourmalet, 1998 Gary Fisher Gitche Gumee

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I was just thinking about this last night. I was walking my bike from campus to the bus station at dusk (I bus it home when it's too dark, my commute takes me on some very curvy, very busy roads) when I saw a woman speeding down the street on an old road bike with absolutely no lighting whatsoever.

She was gone before I could yell anything at her, but I had a hard time seeing her; I can only imagine what motorists could see. It's despicable how much disregard she had for her safety.
jumpr is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 02:30 PM
  #3  
dalmore
Neat - w/ ice on the side
 
dalmore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Big Ring. Little Cog.
Posts: 1,200

Bikes: 2005 Dahon Speed TR, 2006 Dahon Mu SL, 2000 GT XiZang, 1999ish Rock Lobster, 2007 Dean Animas CTI

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I once tried to warn an unreflective darkly clad jogger at about 4:30 am while I was in my car. I pulled along side her and rolled down my window. She started screaming at me and held up something that appeared to be pepper spray. I decided not to wait around to see whether it was pepper spray ...
dalmore is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 02:53 PM
  #4  
chipcom 
Infamous Member
 
chipcom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 24,365

Bikes: Surly Big Dummy, Fuji World, 80ish Bianchi

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janzenj
I always say that the biggest danger to me during my morning commute is the portion of the ride I spend riding on the city's bicycle paths, particularly the portions without ambient lighting. Cyclists riding without any lighting at all may be closing on me at high speed. They can me and my 12 watts of halogen power beaming at them, but as is often the case, they'll be completely non-reflective, so I can't see them till they're right in front of me. Is anyone else tempted to yell something obscene as they pass in the night? I usually leave it at "Get a light!". I haven't uttered any expletives so far.

At least on the road I can see all the vehicles around me, and other cyclists are not a danger to me.

Considering that the cost of a cheap flasher is about the price of a latte and a muffin, why aren't all cyclists so equipped (with a flasher, not a latte)?
That's why I don't use the MUPs on my commute if I can avoid it, in the dark the road is safer.
__________________
"Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey
chipcom is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 03:06 PM
  #5  
DataJunkie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 14,277
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
and smoother. I also tend to avoid bike paths for this reason. That and they are insanely dark and (this sounds silly) make me nervous.

What does MUP stand for? I can guess what it means.
DataJunkie is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 03:11 PM
  #6  
Mr_Super_Socks
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 881

Bikes: Gilmour lugged steel, Bianchi Volpe, Bike Friday Pocket Rocket

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
this is the first year commuting that I have really focused on lighting. for the past four years, I pretty much left it at small blinkies and my reflective burley jacket. Now I am beaming 20w up front with a xenon strobe at the back.

because I have seen the "light" and focused on night visibility, I am now much more aware of how invisible other bikes are - not to mention peds. so many without so much as a reflective stripe! and here in NY, we get 'em all over the place, paths, bridges, roads, whatever. my favorite is an unlit, unreflected bike going the wrong way down a one-way street with a 2.5 ft-wide pizza delivery rack on the front. I encounter several every night. ugh.
Mr_Super_Socks is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 03:12 PM
  #7  
markf
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Wheat Ridge, CO
Posts: 1,076

Bikes: '93 Bridgestone MB-3, '88 Marinoni road bike, '00 Marinoni Piuma, '01 Riv A/R

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by dalmore
I once tried to warn an unreflective darkly clad jogger at about 4:30 am while I was in my car. I pulled along side her and rolled down my window. She started screaming at me and held up something that appeared to be pepper spray. I decided not to wait around to see whether it was pepper spray ...
It probably was pepper spray, and you probably scared her pretty badly. It sounds like she did what any sensible woman would do if a strange man in a car pulled alongside and rolled down a window at 4:30 AM.
markf is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 03:16 PM
  #8  
2manybikes
Dog is my co-pilot
 
2manybikes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,535

Bikes: 2 many

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 990 Post(s)
Liked 12 Times in 10 Posts
That is the biggest danger around here too. Kids at night going the opposite way at 15-20 mph. With no reflectors. So a head on crash is 30 to 40 mph, great! Around here it's almost always kids. They go out during the day and stay too late and ride home unprepared in the dark. Yuck.

There are plenty of bike lights around that will allow you to see them earlier.

They should all chip in and buy you one.

In my state that is illegal, maybe, just maybe, you might get the police to check it out some day?
If you try it, I would be interested to hear the results.
2manybikes is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 03:38 PM
  #9  
truman
It's true, man.
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: North Texas
Posts: 2,726

Bikes: Cannondale T1000, Inbred SS 29er, Supercaliber 29er, Crescent Mark XX, Burley Rumba Tandem

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It'd be cool to start up a blinkie campaign, to buy and keep handy 3 -4 cheap clip-on blinkies with a battery, to give to those illuminatively challenged roadfolk we encounter.

This would have the beneficial effect of guaranteeing that one would never-ever spot an unlit rider, as they would instantly disappear as soon as you started hoping to to spot one.
truman is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 03:44 PM
  #10  
PatrickMcCabe
Senior Member
 
PatrickMcCabe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Chicago
Posts: 192

Bikes: Cannondale F300

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Last night I was approaching the poorest lite area on my commute and
the only reason I saw the guy in my lane was his bright white Ipod in
his hand while he was searching for that perfect song to go along with
me yelling "HEADS UP!!!!" he swerved and apologized, but its night,
no lights, black sweat suit, wearing headphones.....At least we still
have plenty of Darwin Candidate for our amusment.
PatrickMcCabe is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 03:52 PM
  #11  
dalmore
Neat - w/ ice on the side
 
dalmore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Big Ring. Little Cog.
Posts: 1,200

Bikes: 2005 Dahon Speed TR, 2006 Dahon Mu SL, 2000 GT XiZang, 1999ish Rock Lobster, 2007 Dean Animas CTI

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by markf
It probably was pepper spray, and you probably scared her pretty badly. It sounds like she did what any sensible woman would do if a strange man in a car pulled alongside and rolled down a window at 4:30 AM.
Oh I don't blame her for reacting like that at all. I felt rather stupid for not having expected such a reaction. DOH!

But I was REALLY trying to warn her that she was nearly impossible to see. It was like the 4th or 5th time I'd seen her so I know it was a regular thing for her.
dalmore is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 05:39 PM
  #12  
jwgd
Senior Member
 
jwgd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Gastonia, NC
Posts: 76
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Just tonight I gave a guy on the bus one of my two blinkies. My route is pretty well lit with street lights, etc and i'm running a reflective vest, rear blinkie, 6w nightpro and small topeak blinkie up front plus reflective tape everywhere. He's riding a real crowded road without street lights and he's running bent up old reflectors. He's a new commuter and seems so jazzed about it, I couldn't bear to read about him getting clobbered by a car in the paper. Told him to just return it when he picks up his own set. I don't expect to get it back though. What goes around , comes around.
jwgd is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 06:17 PM
  #13  
Guest
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
Mine's unlit runners. With these trails, there are a lot of blind corners and you never know what's behind the corner. It's worse when they wear dark clothes and have no lights.

Koffee
 
Old 11-09-05, 08:33 PM
  #14  
chipcom 
Infamous Member
 
chipcom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 24,365

Bikes: Surly Big Dummy, Fuji World, 80ish Bianchi

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by DataJunkie
and smoother. I also tend to avoid bike paths for this reason. That and they are insanely dark and (this sounds silly) make me nervous.

What does MUP stand for? I can guess what it means.
Multi Use Path - peds, pets, joggers, skateboarders, cross-country skiers, skaters, and every other dangerous category of human recreationalist known to man.
__________________
"Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey
chipcom is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 09:09 PM
  #15  
Boudicca
Conquer Cancer rider
 
Boudicca's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Toronto
Posts: 6,037

Bikes: Fun bike, city bike, Bike Friday, Brompton (also fun bikes)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It's not just bike paths. There was this dark shape on a dark road on my way home a couple of days ago. It turned out to be someone on a black bike. He was wearing a long black coat, black jeans, dark shoes and a not a hint of a light, a blinkie or anything reflective at all. Now I have two blinkies on the back, reflective stripes on my bike bag and my tights, a white helmet and dayglo orange gloves, and couldn't resist yelling a message "If you have to ride without lights, at least make sure you are not wearing all black" as I overtook. I don't think he even heard me. Last I saw he was turning up the hill onto the main road.

Asking for trouble, methinks.
__________________
Zero gallons to the mile
Boudicca is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 09:19 PM
  #16  
alanbikehouston
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by 2manybikes
That is the biggest danger around here too. Kids at night going the opposite way at 15-20 mph. With no reflectors. So a head on crash is 30 to 40 mph, great! Around here it's almost always kids...Yuck....
Yup. I see these guys any night I'm out after around 10 p.m. They love to come around corners at 20 mph on the wrong side of the road, heading directly at my bike. No lights. No reflectors. No legband. No helmets. Once or twice a month, I have near misses with these idiots...sometimes I ride over a curb to avoid a head-on collision.

Dang kids.
alanbikehouston is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 09:44 PM
  #17  
EricDJ
Airborne Titanium
 
EricDJ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Los Angeles, California
Posts: 952

Bikes: Airborne Ti Upright, Raleigh M-20 beater, Peugeot Folding

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
There is a few idiots who routinely ride around here without any lights through the neighborhood. So I went to a 99 cent store and bought a bunch of front lights resembling the old Cateye HL-500 and some cheapy 7 pattern rear lights like what Performance sells for 10 bones. I gave them out and suddenly I see them in use.

I did get a few of the rear lights for me to use, they clip on and make good secondary and backup lights.
EricDJ is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 09:59 PM
  #18  
unkchunk
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,819
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I call them Ninjas. Pedestrains, joggers, and cyclists in all black or dark colors. Can't see them at all. My cheap lights will pick up a white t-shirt at 50 yards, even the white under fur of a rabbit. But these ninjas I can't see at all. I have to look for a void or sihloette in the background light. I've got 4 blinkies, a front light, reflective tape up the wazoo and a reflective vest and the ninjas have nothing. Oh sorry, I just been informed that they carry pepper spray? I can't figure out people.

Anyway my 12 volt is supposed to arrive Saturday, so Monday I'll have 20 to 30 watts of homemade light to blind them.
unkchunk is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 11:18 PM
  #19  
DCCommuter
52-week commuter
 
DCCommuter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 1,929

Bikes: Redline Conquest, Cannonday, Specialized, RANS

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by truman
It'd be cool to start up a blinkie campaign, to buy and keep handy 3 -4 cheap clip-on blinkies with a battery, to give to those illuminatively challenged roadfolk we encounter.
Along those lines, I was shopping for bike stuff recently, and the cheapest blinkie was $4.49, while a CPSC reflector set was $5.49. Currently, every bike sold in the US is required to have the CPSC reflector set, but wouldn't you rather have the blinkie for the same money? (actually, the same money gets you a blinkie plus a Pepsi!)
DCCommuter is offline  
Old 11-09-05, 11:26 PM
  #20  
huhenio
Barbieri Telefonico
 
huhenio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Posts: 3,522

Bikes: Crappy but operational secondhand Motobecane Messenger

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by unkchunk
I call them Ninjas. Pedestrains, joggers, and cyclists in all black or dark colors. Can't see them at all. My cheap lights will pick up a white t-shirt at 50 yards, even the white under fur of a rabbit. But these ninjas I can't see at all. I have to look for a void or sihloette in the background light. I've got 4 blinkies, a front light, reflective tape up the wazoo and a reflective vest and the ninjas have nothing. Oh sorry, I just been informed that they carry pepper spray? I can't figure out people.

Anyway my 12 volt is supposed to arrive Saturday, so Monday I'll have 20 to 30 watts of homemade light to blind them.
I used to be one of those .... 10 bucks of reflective vest made me a visible ninja now. Still, I do not ride in the dark.
__________________
Giving Haircuts Over The Phone
huhenio is offline  
Old 11-11-05, 08:49 AM
  #21  
mandovoodoo
Violin guitar mandolin
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Friendsville, TN, USA
Posts: 1,171

Bikes: Wilier Thor, Fuji Professional, LeMond Wayzata

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I actually got hit head on by one years ago. Tore some muscles, folded up a nice English 531 frame, crack my skull. At least he went into the gravel on his face. Next day I could tell where the wreck was by the large quantity of my blood and my bloody footprints heading home!

Not sure of a solution. They'll always be idiots.
mandovoodoo is offline  
Old 11-11-05, 10:36 AM
  #22  
jyossarian
SERENITY NOW!!!
 
jyossarian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: In the 212
Posts: 8,738

Bikes: Haro Vector, IRO Rob Roy, Bianchi Veloce

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Mr_Super_Socks
my favorite is an unlit, unreflected bike going the wrong way down a one-way street with a 2.5 ft-wide pizza delivery rack on the front. I encounter several every night. ugh.
Yup, same problem here. I hate it when they take the inside and force me outside into traffic when they should be going outside b/c they can see traffic and I have to turn my head to look. Makes me wanna just reach out and smack 'em.


Originally Posted by Boudicca
It turned out to be someone on a black bike. He was wearing a long black coat, black jeans, dark shoes and a not a hint of a light, a blinkie or anything reflective at all.
That was a ninja. Don't yell at ninjas or they'll cut your throat and disappear in a puff of smoke. Didn't you see the school safety film, "What NOT to do to a Ninja"?


Originally Posted by 2manybikes
That is the biggest danger around here too. Kids at night going the opposite way at 15-20 mph. With no reflectors. So a head on crash is 30 to 40 mph, great! Around here it's almost always kids. They go out during the day and stay too late and ride home unprepared in the dark. Yuck.
Actually, it'd still be a 15-20 mph crash if you hit head-on, assuming you were both approx. the same weight and moving at the same speed. Your momentums would cancel each other out on your heads. Around here, I see more adults w/ expensive road, mtb's and cruisers riding w/ no lights or blinkies. Kids ride the same way, but they're invincible and immortal so that's ok.
__________________
HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!
jyossarian is offline  
Old 11-11-05, 10:46 AM
  #23  
nycm'er
militant commuter
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: lower manhattan
Posts: 476
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I don't want to dampen the considerate trend of this thread, but with a close call, I usually yell "Lights you f%&k!" I love when you find someone on the wrong side of the road/path, unlit, unreflective, and they blame you for nearly hitting them.

During the cop bike crack down, I was stopping at every light and waiting, a really inefficient way to get about the city. And once the 50th unlit food delivery guy, going the wrong way, through the red light, with the above mentioned pizza rack, passed me, I started blowing those lights without any guilt.

I think what people are saying about giving lights away is a very kind and thoughtful thing to do. There will always be idiots, but there is hope.

Last edited by nycm'er; 11-11-05 at 10:51 AM. Reason: wrong word
nycm'er is offline  
Old 11-11-05, 10:50 AM
  #24  
nycm'er
militant commuter
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: lower manhattan
Posts: 476
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jyossarian
Actually, it'd still be a 15-20 mph crash if you hit head-on, assuming you were both approx. the same weight and moving at the same speed. Your momentums would cancel each other out on your heads.
You sure about that? I think that defies the physics I was supposed to learn in high school.
nycm'er is offline  
Old 11-11-05, 10:54 AM
  #25  
jyossarian
SERENITY NOW!!!
 
jyossarian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: In the 212
Posts: 8,738

Bikes: Haro Vector, IRO Rob Roy, Bianchi Veloce

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by nycm'er
You sure about that? I think that defies the physics I was supposed to learn in high school.
According to the physics I learned in high school, two objects of the same mass and moving at the same speed towards each other generate the same momentum and thus cancel each other out with equal and opposite forces. Same as if you hit a brickwall.

However, high school was a long time ago and my physics teacher used to wear the same pants everyday and routinely run out of gas in his car. He also looked like Jerry Lewis in the Nutty Professor so he might've been teaching us a load of nonsense.
__________________
HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!
jyossarian is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.