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Lights & Reflectors: How much is enough?

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View Poll Results: Lights & Reflectors: How much is enough?
Reflectors only (yikes!)
1
0.40%
Rear light only
2
0.80%
Front & rear blinking lights
26
10.36%
Front headlamps and rear blinker
85
33.86%
Multiple headlamps and taillights
56
22.31%
All of the above
25
9.96%
All of the above and more
56
22.31%
Voters: 251. You may not vote on this poll

Lights & Reflectors: How much is enough?

Old 12-02-08, 04:37 PM
  #126  
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People avoid me and give me space with my blinkies on. Especially in the morning dark.
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Old 12-02-08, 07:28 PM
  #127  
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I know we've talked about this before (probably in this thread.. lol), but anyway...

Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
You're forgetting the very common scenario where the cyclist is in the intersection waiting to turn across the oncoming lanes when traffic clears. Meanwhile, there are motorists stopped on both sides of the intersection, facing eachothers' headlights, with a cyclist inbetween. In this situation, both reflective gear and active side lighting are beneficial.
If the cyclist is waiting for traffic to clear, then when they finally cross, it's clear -- they're not in danger and aren't going to get hit.

And, I don't know about the rest of you, but when I'm in my car and facing headlights across the intersection, and either the street isn't wider than a couple lanes or I'm near the center, and unless there's a lot of street lighting, I can't see anything at ground level besides the other cars' headlights. The glare is just too strong.

If I'm in a car waiting at an intersection, I'm... well, I'm waiting. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going to hit anything. A cyclist going across in front of me, whether I can see him or not, is a non-issue.
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Old 12-02-08, 07:36 PM
  #128  
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Originally Posted by Bat22 View Post
It's just me put up a great post about the pick up truck hitting a parked emergency
vehicle full speed even with all the emergency strobes on.
I had a conversation with a fire captain a few years ago.
Some kind of national phenomenon when drivers follow emergency strobe lights
down the highway and crash into something.
A wierd kind of hypnotic effect.
It's not any more of an issue to worry about than the equally popular (and equally incorrect) myth that running a flashing headlight will send every approaching driver into convulsions.

Last edited by uke; 12-02-08 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 12-03-08, 12:37 AM
  #129  
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
I know we've talked about this before (probably in this thread.. lol), but anyway...



If the cyclist is waiting for traffic to clear, then when they finally cross, it's clear -- they're not in danger and aren't going to get hit.
Today I was in the intersection waiting to turn left across the oncoming lanes. Classic: the light turns yellow, the oncoming cars SPEED UP. Then the light turns red, and there I am: still in the middle of an intersection, with cars ready to come at me from both sides on their green light.

And if I had attempted to get my left turn when the light turned yellow, the oncoming motorists who were planning to punch the accelerator would indeed be coming at me from the side as I turned. Side lights and reflectivity could help them see that they're about to run me over in their attempt to beat the yellow light.

Dunno if that makes sense to you guys, but it's a scene from real life here and it's one reason I like my crazy Tron jacket, reflective tire sidewalls and so forth.


Yes, it is now officially the Tron Jacket

Last edited by mechBgon; 12-03-08 at 12:40 AM.
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Old 12-03-08, 05:56 AM
  #130  
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They're going to try to beat the yellow light regardless of whether you're there or not. You're also ahead of the cars that they're following. They're looking at the light and the other cars, not at you. Doesn't matter how Tron-like you dress.

Then, if you can't get far enough in that short time between reds and greens to get out of the way of the other traffic that has to start from a standstill, you're either too slow, or it'll just be safer to do a box turn instead.
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Old 12-03-08, 08:03 AM
  #131  
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
Dunno if that makes sense to you guys, but it's a scene from real life here and it's one reason I like my crazy Tron jacket, reflective tire sidewalls and so forth.


Yes, it is now officially the Tron Jacket
1) Yeah, that's typical intersection mentality around here.

2) Wow... that Jacket is bright. Which one is it? Also, if I'm not mistaken you've got some style of reflective gloves as well? I tried checking your visibility website as well as searching the forums for "tron jacket" and no luck.
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Old 12-03-08, 09:42 AM
  #132  
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
y, many hours with an emergency-vehicle strobe mounted on the rear of my bike, and it has the opposite effect: people avoid it, changing lanes to get further away from it. Very predictable.
The case I posted definitely happened, I heard it firsthand from my brother who was on the scene and I saw the pictures of the accident scene myself. However, I don't think it was a case of the driver being hypnotized by the lights, I think he was just zoned out or asleep at the wheel. My point was, it's entirely true that NO amount of lights is going to protect you against every idiot out there. I think a good secondary defense is to have a good mirror and use it, I keep tabs on every vehicle approaching me from the rear and what their lane position is, and I'm prepared to bail. So far 16000 miles and I've not had anything I'd really even call a close call, but I keep watching.
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Old 12-03-08, 10:04 AM
  #133  
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I see a LOT of cyclists at night (and day) around greater Seattle. I am interested in lighting visibility and safety because I help outfit a lot of riders for their nightime lighting needs, so take a look at riders systems while i pass.

For urban riding, a flashing LED headlight aimed correctly is very noticeable.

For those on extreme budgets, the very inexpensive, lower powered ones that run on CR3032s have extreme fade - from a oncoming traffic perspective- in front of the rider but are quite bright up close. The new Blackburn Flea?- a rechargeable 3032 system, is 65 lumens in this size but its recharger design might need some rework to make it more user friendly and robust.

Some of the new gen, inexpensive multiple LED, disposable battery headlights are even bright enough to add to conspicuity during the day. Notable the Cateye EL135 for compact light good for day/night safety visibility.

Higher powered, single bulb LED lights with 1W of power like the Planet Bike Blaze or the Niterider Ultrafazer MAX throw about 40 lumens of tight light in front of the rider. These may be bright enough for some to be acceptable for their nighttime 'see the road' needs but are just on the marginal side of useable light to ride by. They are exponentially better than the first halogen bike headlights and world apart from the mini maglight and duct tape fixes of the pre battery headlight era.

For dedicated commuters, highpowered, rechargeable LED systems really represent the best headlight systems available- I'd steer anyone interested in a rechargeable system to avoid the bottom tier of Niterider and Light in Motion as their entry level lights do not have the flash option.

Flashing LEDS may help reduce right of way conflicts during daytime use; riders here in the Northwest are reporting this anecdotally enough to me that I've noted a trend. Other riders have as well, and opinions for daytime lights written about by local bike advocates. You can see, and it's OBVIOUS, a flashing Niterider Trinewt from over a mile out during the daytime. The real value from LED daytime arrays comes much closer in than that, during intersection negotiations and enhancing your visibility to oncoming and potentially turning traffic.

Do not depend on lights to clear a traffic ambiguity but running a bright, daytime visible LED array appears to offer tangible safety benefits.

Anyone riding the winter months in North America should consider a daytime visible LED. One thing to keep in mind- nature doesn't always present either pitchblack or perfect daytime riding. Theres' a lot of gray and limited visibility conditions, shadows longer, the sun lower in the sky.

(and anyone obsessed about side visibility should consider some of the Knog lights- you can wrap them around your fork blades, aim them at any angle forward or square off to the sides and add active side visibility rather easily. I find passive side fleccos satisfactory)

Last edited by Bekologist; 12-03-08 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 12-03-08, 03:52 PM
  #134  
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Originally Posted by jdmitch View Post
1) Yeah, that's typical intersection mentality around here.

2) Wow... that Jacket is bright. Which one is it? Also, if I'm not mistaken you've got some style of reflective gloves as well? I tried checking your visibility website as well as searching the forums for "tron jacket" and no luck.
It's a neon-lime shell that I ironed 3M reflective tape onto. The result isn't pretty when you look at it up close, and the tape is prone to peeling, but it reflects well when dry. I also ironed some 3M tape onto the gloves.

They're going to try to beat the yellow light regardless of whether you're there or not. You're also ahead of the cars that they're following. They're looking at the light and the other cars, not at you. Doesn't matter how Tron-like you dress.

Then, if you can't get far enough in that short time between reds and greens to get out of the way of the other traffic that has to start from a standstill, you're either too slow, or it'll just be safer to do a box turn instead.
I certainly hope my safety never comes down to just the motorists' ability to see me, but I still value being highly visible at close range in these situations. One time last year, commuting in the dark, I failed to see an oncoming car at a major intersection, and did make my left turn across its path. D'oh! It didn't lay into a complete lockup, but it was braking hard enough to dive the front end. Never say never...
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Old 12-04-08, 07:56 AM
  #135  
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
It's a neon-lime shell that I ironed 3M reflective tape onto. The result isn't pretty when you look at it up close, and the tape is prone to peeling, but it reflects well when dry. I also ironed some 3M tape onto the gloves.
Some of this stuff?
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Old 12-04-08, 10:51 AM
  #136  
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I use this on my hard shell bike pants: https://www.identi-tape.com/solas.html

Adherence is great with no pealing.






3M 3150A & 6750I SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) reflective tapes are U.S. Coast Guard approved (SPECIFICATIONS). SOLAS tape is specifically designed to enhance the visibility of life jackets, ring buoys, survival suits, and inflatable life rafts in marine environments. This tape is highly flexible and adheres (3150A) to rubber-coated cloth, vinyl-nylon laminated cloth, cured polyester cloth, PVC, and aluminum. The sew-on SOLAS (6750I) exhibits all the same qualities as the adhesive 3150A and has a sewable 4-mil polyester backing. Both SOLAS tapes are excellent for outerwear applications such as motorcycle jackets and raingear. Sticks to nylon and codura. Sold in 15-foot increments or 55-yard rolls. Specifications and instructions for all 3M SOLAS reflective materials can be found HERE. Please note that adhesive SOLAS tapes are not machine washable
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Old 12-04-08, 12:14 PM
  #137  
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Originally Posted by jdmitch View Post
Some of this stuff?
Exactly. That SOLAS that Barrettscv has also looks good, I might try that next time I have some money to spare. Although they warn you not to machine-wash it.
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Old 12-04-08, 12:20 PM
  #138  
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
Exactly. That SOLAS that Barrettscv has also looks good, I might try that next time I have some money to spare. Although they warn you not to machine-wash it.
I don't generally wash outwear anyways... so the SOLAS may be the way I go as well.
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Old 12-05-08, 12:47 PM
  #139  
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You can't have enough... (unless paint blisters)

On my better lit bike, I have the following...

Headlights:
on helmet
NR MiNewt X2
on handlebars
NR MiNewt X2
NR Wireless TriNewt
CatEye EL400
NR Evolution Smart (was off when I was hit)
Tail lights:
on helmet
PB Blinky 3H
on backpack
2x Perfomance ViewPoint Flashpoints
PB Superflash
on bike
PB Superflash
NR Universal Tail light.
Ground Effects:
Rock The Bike's Down Low Glow (ice blue, added after I was hit)
All that, and I've got it covered in 3M Scotchlite RR film...





And I still got hit (left cross) by a car, after dark, while I had my lights on... His excuse... "Oh My God! I'm so Sorry! I didn't see you!" (my leg was broken in two places, and I had a torn MCL).

IMHO, you cannot have enough visibility, unless you can somehow project a moving hologram of say a T-Rex, a Jumbo jet, or manage to somehow blister paint.

Rubberside Down!
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Last edited by K'Tesh; 12-05-08 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 12-05-08, 01:02 PM
  #140  
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Is that a clear reflective film you have on the frame?
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Old 12-05-08, 02:02 PM
  #141  
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No, I hand cut it...

I hand cut the 3M film to recreate the paint scheme of my 2004 Giant Rainier...

Here's some early shots of the process:




I didn't take any pics of the bike before I got started, but these are close to the original scheme...

There's more on this at the BikePortland forums...

Rubberside Down!
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Old 12-05-08, 02:25 PM
  #142  
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Originally Posted by K'Tesh View Post
I hand cut the 3M film to recreate the paint scheme of my 2004 Giant Rainier...

Here's some early shots of the process:




I didn't take any pics of the bike before I got started, but these are close to the original scheme...

There's more on this at the BikePortland forums...

Rubberside Down!
K'Tesh
Nicely, nicely done.
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Old 12-05-08, 10:20 PM
  #143  
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All of the above and more!!!

Plus, in cold weather, reflective arm warmers and reflective/commuter yellow helmet cover, and commuter yellow shirt.

They are gonna to SEE me!
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Old 12-06-08, 12:22 AM
  #144  
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question about spoke lights.

i bought some cheap made in china spoke lights. they flash red and blue. can i legal ride around with flashing blue and red lights on my bike? i don't want a cop pulling me over
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Old 12-06-08, 01:00 AM
  #145  
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Originally Posted by weavers View Post
question about spoke lights.

i bought some cheap made in china spoke lights. they flash red and blue. can i legal ride around with flashing blue and red lights on my bike? i don't want a cop pulling me over
You can check your country/state laws if you want the definitive answer, but I'm pretty sure it'll be a big NO.
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Old 12-06-08, 01:59 PM
  #146  
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In almost all areas, it's illegal to ride with blue lights. They designate police.
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Old 12-06-08, 02:12 PM
  #147  
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I passed a traffic cop the other day with my blue spokelits on. He took one look at my bike and said "You've got more lights on that than I have on my cruiser" and waved me through. Guess it's OK to use the blue lights in Mass. I have noticed a few cars pull to the side when I've been near. Can't say for sure that it's because of the blue spokelits, tho.
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Old 12-06-08, 02:28 PM
  #148  
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Originally Posted by baldsue View Post
I passed a traffic cop the other day with my blue spokelits on. He took one look at my bike and said "You've got more lights on that than I have on my cruiser" and waved me through. Guess it's OK to use the blue lights in Mass. I have noticed a few cars pull to the side when I've been near. Can't say for sure that it's because of the blue spokelits, tho.
Cops probably aren't giving you a hard time because they know for sure you aren't a bike cop. They might be happy to see that you're well-lit at all, too (visually speaking, not "lit" on drugs.. ).

Drivers, though, are a little paranoid about flashing blue lights in their mirrors (either they think they're being pulled over or they're trying to get out of the way), and they pulled over in response to yours for that reason. If I were driving and saw some flashing blues behind me, I'd move aside, too. That could cause a real problem if a driver moves right while you're hoping to pass on their right.

Best to avoid confusion, I'd say, and stick with red to the rear, white to the front, and reflective stuff and/or amber lights to the side.
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Old 12-06-08, 03:18 PM
  #149  
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Originally Posted by weavers View Post
question about spoke lights.

i bought some cheap made in china spoke lights. they flash red and blue. can i legal ride around with flashing blue and red lights on my bike? i don't want a cop pulling me over
Legally, probably not. Practically, it may not matter that much. Most LEOs are just happy if you have lights on. YMMV Now, red and/or blue flashing lights on the front of your bike will almost certainly get you a ticket, but on the wheels, it may not matter as much.

On a personal note, when I ordered my Down Low Glow lights, I bought amber because a) amber is totally legal to have and b) under certain circumstances, amber is more easily seen than red (which was my other choice).
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Old 12-06-08, 03:22 PM
  #150  
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
Best to avoid confusion, I'd say, and stick with red to the rear, white to the front, and reflective stuff and/or amber lights to the side.
That's the advice I follow. Stay safe and legal.
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