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They don't see me...

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They don't see me...

Old 11-14-05, 09:16 AM
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Juha
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They don't see me...

... and I believe they're actually right.

Yesterday was a weird day. On two separate occasions a car had to brake really hard to avoid hitting me. The first one even stalled her engine which I thought was especially nice. I could see them both coming well in advance, so no real danger there, but it unnerved me nevertheless. I was wearing my riding gear with reflective stripes. My bike has all the mandatory reflectors and then some (in my panniers). I have a flashing red led at the rear and a bright be-seen led at front, on steady. In short: I was doing everything I thought I needed to do, and yet neither of the cagers saw me.

What they saw were my lights, and that was a little earlier. During the time between that moment and the time they crossed my riding path they apparently had not figured out what to make of those lights or even registered them properly. They never actually saw my shape on my bike until it was nearly too late.

I started thinking if there would be any way to fix that. Currently I'm toying around with an idea of buying a bright yellow reflective vest, then putting one of my weaker be-seen leds in front, but aiming it backwards directly at the vest.

Pros: they should see me now, even with little or no ambient lighting at all.
Cons: I know I could aim the beam so that it does not blind me, but I doubt I can keep all the resulting direct or reflected light out of my pheripheral field of vision at all times. I am concerned it would at least impair my night vision. Also, I believe strictly speaking it would be illegal to have a white light pointing backwards, although that would be the least of my worries.

Anyone tried this or other ways of actually lighting your body/bike instead of pointing lights in the thin air?

--J
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Old 11-14-05, 09:30 AM
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I think your biggest threat is going to be from the rear, unless you are spending some amount of time riding against traffic. Perhaps you could rig up the light on the rack so that it shines on your back. Then you could illuminate the vest but wouldn't have a white light shining backwards.
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Old 11-14-05, 09:43 AM
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At the risk of stating the obvious, this is one of the benefits of a powerful headlight. "Be-seen" LEDs are a little firefly floating in the air. A 12-watt HID is a blasting blue-white star with a 30-meter patch of hotly-lit pavement in front of it, advertising your presence. A more affordable rechargeable halogen in the 10W-15W range still puts significant light on the roadway. Considered augmenting your LED with a rechargeable system? Still cheaper than the emergency room...
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Old 11-14-05, 09:53 AM
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Yes, thought about that too. The thing is, 90% or so of my commute is on separated bike paths running along the streets. There's no risk of being hit from behind, only threats are vehicles crossing over the (right-of-way) path in intersections. In many cases, being well visible from the front is at least as important there.

--J
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Old 11-14-05, 09:56 AM
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About the better headlight: I now have my DIY 10w halogen in action, together with the be-seen led, which I now run on blink mode. So I am hoping I will be more noticeable already. An upgrade to 15w is long overdue (6v MR11 bulbs are not sold in every corner shop around here), so I may try to get around to finally do that too.

--J

[edit] Yes, I believe a good HID would result in the "what the heck is THAT" reaction. That could well be enough. [/edit]
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Old 11-14-05, 10:04 AM
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You need more than two blinkies to ride with traffic at night. To put it in perspective: a typical AA-powered blinkie pulls about 0.3 watts. The typical dashboard lights on a car are 3-5 watts.
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Old 11-14-05, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by DCCommuter
You need more than two blinkies to ride with traffic at night. To put it in perspective: a typical AA-powered blinkie pulls about 0.3 watts. The typical dashboard lights on a car are 3-5 watts.
But light is measured in lumens, not watts. Most of the 5-watts in the dashboard lights are wasted as heat. LEDs are more efficient.

If you actually had a 0.3-watt light bulb it would indeed be pretty useless.

A 3-watt (not 0.3-watt) emitter-type LED is pretty bright. If they don't see that, they're not looking. Short of some type of HID-based death ray, I wouldn't bother with a halogen lamp of 15 watts or less over the 3-watt LED, unless you need to light the road for your own vision.
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Old 11-14-05, 10:32 AM
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I have seen comments that some people put a single ultra-bright LED on their rear rack, facing their back, so as to give the overtaking driver a human silhouette to identify, rather than just a few floating/blinking UFO lights.

"Crossing your riding path" - were these incidents at intersections? If so, who had the right-of-way? Did they stop and then take off again, nearly t-boning you, or did you run a stop? Or am I misunderstanding things.
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Old 11-14-05, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by DCCommuter
You need more than two blinkies to ride with traffic at night. To put it in perspective: a typical AA-powered blinkie pulls about 0.3 watts. The typical dashboard lights on a car are 3-5 watts.
Keep in mind that most states have laws against multiple alternating lights on moving vehicles. If they flash in sync with each other, then they are fine, but the alternating setup is reserved for emergency vehicles. I don't know of anyone who has actually been cited for using multiple blinking lights, but I choose not to take any chances with "The Man" .

I ride with three lights on the back of my bike. Two are at the base of my seat stays in steady mode while the other is blinking on my rear rack.
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Old 11-14-05, 10:47 AM
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If you have two cateye el200's aimed 15 degrees to the left or right, when it's right in your face, it's just about as bright as a HID light for short distances.
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Old 01-02-06, 03:48 AM
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If you aim a light at your back wear white or use lots of reflective material. Cloth reflective tape can be sewn onto clothing or get bike clothes that have reflective material built into it. Some xenon flash tube devices put out light in 360 degrees, going back down the road and lighting your back.
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Old 01-02-06, 05:38 AM
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What do you use for side visability? This seem to be the biggest problem for drivers.

The Cateye TL-1000 has decent side visability. I use this light with a lot of reflective tape on my cranks, top tube, fork, and helmet to increase my side visability. So for so good.
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Old 01-02-06, 06:32 AM
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I don't think that having a light in the rear pointed at your back will do much for reflective material. Reflective material relies on a light source near the axis of the observer's eyes. If you have a light on your rack aimed upwards at say 45 degrees, the light will be reflected upwards at that angle.

I'm not saying reflective stuff doesn't work, it does. But adding a light like that won't help with reflective stuff. It will light you up, but the reflective stuff won't be more effective because of it.
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Old 01-02-06, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Ziemas
What do you use for side visability? This seem to be the biggest problem for drivers.

The Cateye TL-1000 has decent side visability. I use this light with a lot of reflective tape on my cranks, top tube, fork, and helmet to increase my side visability. So for so good.
I have reflective sidewalls on my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, plus the TL-LD1000's side lights, plus the Mars 3.0's amber sidelights. The reflective tires will pretty much define it as a bicycle.
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Old 01-02-06, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by michaelnel
I have reflective sidewalls on my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, plus the TL-LD1000's side lights, plus the Mars 3.0's amber sidelights. The reflective tires will pretty much define it as a bicycle.
I forgot about the Marathon's sidewalls, I've got those too, as well as relfective tape on my rims. (I have disc brakes.) You can never have too much reflective material.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:03 AM
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What's a cager?
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Old 01-02-06, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by curt in denver
What's a cager?
A person in a car.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:37 AM
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Everything you can do to make your bike more visible is very, very, important.

But, the drivers don't always process a bicycle or a motorcycle. They are thinking about cars. So assume they will run right into you. This is the only way I survived decades of road motorcycling. They will seem to look at you, and drive right into you like you don't exist. I had a driver in a car slowly push me through a stop sign on my motorcycle into the traffic. She was looking to her left at the traffic and inching slowly forward.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:51 AM
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Car headlights will illuminate the vest. You don't need to have a light on your bike pointing at the vest.
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Old 01-02-06, 12:22 PM
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I have much better luck with a flashing front light than a constant. I always assume drivers don't see me, but with a constant light, I'm usually right.
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Old 01-02-06, 12:53 PM
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I ride with a cateye blinking LED in front for backup, and an old BLT off road light with a really heavy battery and 10W & 20W bulb. If I forget to charge the big light and only have the LED, it seems like more motorists do not see me. If you are riding on a road, do yourself a favor and get a burly light with a 15 or 20 watt bulb. It makes a big difference.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by SDRider
Car headlights will illuminate the vest. You don't need to have a light on your bike pointing at the vest.
That's the point. What you just said means cars coming directly towards me will see the vest. But if the car is driving along my side, or ahead of me preparing to turn, I will have to illuminate the vest myself to make it visible.

--J
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Old 01-03-06, 04:25 AM
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I don't know. More lights are always good I guess. But I don't really see how it could come to near crashes, if you have seen the cars well in advance? I hope you don't rely on the driver noticing you (without KNOWING that he did, i.e. eye contact) in a dark intersection, with the car approaching from the side? There's no way I'm going to maintain a collision course in such a situation, no matter how well lit I am.
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Old 01-03-06, 04:42 AM
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When I put my two little cateye leds on the bottom of my dropsinstead of at the top, I started getting a lot different reaction. The distance confirms that I am a bike, and how far away I am. I had three comments from peds and cabs tonight, as well as several cars that I had to wave through as I was trackstanding at a stoplight/sign waiting for them...
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Old 01-03-06, 05:24 AM
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http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ghlight=lights

In some states multiple blinkies would be considered illegal.

I don't personally have an opinion on this subject but thought this previous thread might be interesting to reference on this topic.
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