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I've set my lights to steady

Old 03-10-14, 11:40 PM
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I've set my lights to steady

I don't know why, but I'm running both my headlight and my tail light in steady mode. Is this dumb? I'd like to know if any studies that show that blinking lights are better for cyclists than steady lights?
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Old 03-11-14, 12:21 AM
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I use my lights on steady when it's dark. Partly this is just because flashing lights annoy me when I'm driving and I think my lights are bright enough to get noticed without flashing. I also read somewhere that drunk drivers are drawn toward flashing lights. I think they said there was a study, but for me it's enough to think about the mountain biking mantra, "The bike goes where you look," and imagine that applied to a drunk person in a car.

So I guess the reality is I have nothing concrete to back up my use of steady lights.
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Old 03-11-14, 05:30 AM
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.

I'm running a mix, I've got one front flasher (Cateye Reflex) that isn't too powerful, I think just strong enough to get attention, while not being blinding. I'm running my helmet light and my handlebar mounted flashlight on steady these days. I think flashing is overkill for either of them, especially the flashlight.

For the rear, I run my fender tail light on solid, my Mars 4.0 attached to my saddlebag on flashing and my rear helmet light (PB 3-H) blinking.

I hope a combination gives drivers a way to triangulate, without blinding them, while still getting their attention. Who knows though. *shrugs* The Mars might be a little bright now that I have a different commute through the city and I'm usually not competing with outrageous animated billboards or other very bright areas. Then again, it always seems to end up a little mis-aligned the way I've been attaching it to my bag, so it usually isn't facing drivers directly.
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Old 03-11-14, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I don't know why, but I'm running both my headlight and my tail light in steady mode. Is this dumb? I'd like to know if any studies that show that blinking lights are better for cyclists than steady lights?
Here's the blog entry I usually show when questions like this come up. Human brains just react to flashy things. (You'll also get better battery life out of flashing LED lights than continuously on).

When it's dark, my main light is solid and I have a secondary light that flashes.

I think flashing lights are better than solid ones. I think solid lights are much better than no lights.

Cheers,
Charles
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Old 03-11-14, 07:02 AM
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OK, thank you. I'll go back to flashing, except for my headlight in the night.

I think headlights and flashlights will blink only in the highest intensity available. In that case, it's hard to compare battery drains between flashing-at-high and steady-at-low-or-medium.
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Old 03-11-14, 07:18 AM
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I was recently considering double up on the tail light, with a solid and a flashing light, one above the other. Then I got thinking: A good compromise is one light that stays steady for ~10 seconds, then flashes 2-3 times before going steady again.

M.
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Old 03-11-14, 07:27 AM
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I run my front on steady so I can see where I'm going and my rear on blinking so things behind me know I'm there.
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Old 03-11-14, 07:45 AM
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I'll run a combination, two front & two rear, one at each end flashing and the other steady. In the front, I'll run a low-power flashing along with a steady at higher power. In the rear, I'll use two equally and moderatly strong units. I like knowing that if on light fails, chances are the other is likely to still be operating.
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Old 03-11-14, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I don't know why, but I'm running both my headlight and my tail light in steady mode. Is this dumb? I'd like to know if any studies that show that blinking lights are better for cyclists than steady lights?
Thank you. Strobe lights are annoying for me and others. Plus, it's much easier to track a steady light, and therefore, safer.
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Old 03-11-14, 07:52 AM
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I always run my tail light in flash. My headlight I only use in low light or foggy conditions, but it's in flash unless I'm actually using it to see (like if I'm riding at night).
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Old 03-11-14, 08:13 AM
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lights on steady, but we get a lot of bike traffic around here, and I hate getting behind someone with a 50 watt red strobe going off in my face.
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Old 03-11-14, 08:30 AM
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I am a little uncomfortable with the flashing lights and the restrictions in motor vehicle statutes, although I realize that most of those refer specifically to motor vehicles. It's not so much the laws per se, but when I'm riding VC it seems like flashing lights may be misinforming drivers. Flashing headlight is in an ambiguous place legally and a red strobe just means something else. Flashing amber hazard lights may be the most appropriate for a slow moving bicycle but I've never seen that.
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Old 03-11-14, 08:41 AM
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OK, maybe it would make sense to use a bright steady light and a flashing light that doesn't cause pain. My Cygolite Hotshot is very intense. I find it's easy to turn my eyes away from an intense steady light but a flashing light draws my eyes in, for some reason. Do others find the same thing? I think at night, I'll run the Hotshot on steady and a less intense flashing taillight.

A couple of nights ago on the bike path along the Hudson, someone had an extremely intense headlight on his helmet. It was painful, and I think it was more than he needed. It's a bike path with virtually no intersections with motor vehicles. I was using a be-seen light and felt perfectly safe. What kind of danger does he think he was warding off? If he has a vision problem, perhaps it makes sense. I'm not saying there should be laws against it, but it seemed like a dumb idea. How about the concept of a tool to fit the job, not a tool to obliterate the job?

This is America, so more is better, and even more is even better, and a ridiculous amount of more is ridiculously more better, right?
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Old 03-11-14, 08:50 AM
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I think the answer is, it depends. In some situations, a flashing light may attract the person's attention quicker, but that may or may not be desirable. That is, it may trigger the moth to flame phenomenon. I worry that this could be especially true with folks who are tired or have been drinking. In any event, I think the real issue is less about blinking or not, and more about how to be conspicuous, and lighting alone seems to fall short. Take a look here: You're not as visible on a bike at night as you think, new study shows | BikePortland.org
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Old 03-11-14, 09:12 AM
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I have two fronts and two backs. When around vehicles the flashing ones are pointed slightly so they don't annoy yet can be noticed. Also when around vehicles I switch which ones are flashing as one set is HIGHLY annoying. I am mostly on bike trails so when I do that both fronts are on steady and I use the annoying rear flasher but it's pointed down slightly. It is so annoying that people cannot ride behind me in a group. When in a group I use the lesser flashy one and turn the annoying one off.
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Old 03-11-14, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by cplager View Post
Here's the blog entry I usually show when questions like this come up.
These are both great sources. Thanks for sharing them. I have a new bike on the way and will have dyno lighting for the first time. I've been debating about whether to use only the German (and, therefore, non-blinking) lights it comes with or to add some be-seen blinky lights. I think I'll go ahead and add some blinkies.

I also wear a high-vis vest, but that second article has me thinking that maybe I need to add some more reflective stuff to the bike itself.
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Old 03-11-14, 09:30 AM
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Rear lights, I always have them flashing. For the front;
it depends on the situation. On a quiet bike path at nite;
low or medium steady. On a steet with a lot of traffic;
day or nite - flashing. If I'm on an unfamiliar street at
nite; hi steady to look for potholes/debris.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G74...6zPoymgKaIoDLA
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Old 03-11-14, 09:34 AM
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Reflective tape on boot covers provide the benefit of circular motion and can be very bright;


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Old 03-11-14, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by cplager View Post
Here's the blog entry I usually show when questions like this come up. Human brains just react to flashy things. (You'll also get better battery life out of flashing LED lights than continuously on).

When it's dark, my main light is solid and I have a secondary light that flashes.

I think flashing lights are better than solid ones. I think solid lights are much better than no lights.

Cheers,
Charles
Very interesting. I've passed this on to those who read my blog. Thanks for the point.
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Old 03-11-14, 09:42 AM
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one each, front and rear.
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Old 03-11-14, 10:04 AM
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My B&M taillights only the 4D toplight senso had a blink mode..
and that was the senso daylight into a tunnel mode,

their flash interval is at much lower frequencies than the Asian made ones ..
IMO following someone with a higher frequency blink is annoying ..

I change streets or just stop and let those folks go ahead..

I Acknowledge the batteries last longer in blink mode than steady , but making electricity
as I go ,with a hub dynamo, that issue goes away.
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Old 03-11-14, 10:14 AM
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Flashing light makes it much more difficult to judge speed and distance. But it does draw some more attention.
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Old 03-11-14, 10:44 AM
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About reflective bits: I did notice an increase in car awareness when I started wearing reflective ankle straps when riding in the dusk/night. The up-and-down motion of pedaling is instantly recognizable as a bicycle.
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Old 03-11-14, 11:00 AM
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Don't ignore reflective strips on tires, the two circles provides an outline improving visability from the side.



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When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.

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Old 03-11-14, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
Don't ignore reflective strips on tires, the two circles provides an outline improving visability from the side.



Obviously, viewing a bike with reflect strips on tires from a perpendicular angle, the bike tires are very visible. However, even from a slight angle from the back, some of the strips will be reflecting back, partly because of the curved profile of the tire and partly because no cyclist travels in a perfectly straight line, the weaving will bring the strips in and out of visibility.
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