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Blinky Experiment

Old 10-02-14, 06:59 PM
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downwinded
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Blinky Experiment

The thread from a few days back on bright blinking lights was very interesting. I'm not arguing against shaped beams at all. They really seem pretty effective. Neither am I saying that some lights are too bright. I'm only going to relay the experience of the very informal, very unscientific experiment with my light.

I'm running a Cygolite Metro 500 mounted on the handlebars. The daytime flash mode produces a claimed 600 lumens. I have never had anyone complain about my light. I have had several compliments on it and the distance that it is visible. I don't use flashing at night. I don't use it on the MUP. I have always kept it pointed down so that the splash on the road is approx 10'-12' ahead of the front wheel.

The comment that got my attention in the thread I mentioned was regarding judging speed and distance of a very bright flashing light. Now I am firmly on the side of wanting to be seen above all else and I think my light accomplishes that, at least on my commute. The problem that I have complained about in the past, and had others agree, is that drivers want to wait too long at a stop sign while I'm approaching on the through street. I mean a half block, really? Do they think UFO is coming down the street? A real pain, I think. Makes me wonder if they can judge speed/distance at all and may pull out just as I get there. I began to consider if the light could be causing at least part of their inability to judge.

I started my "test" 2 weeks ago. Pointed the light farther down so that the splash is about 4'-5' ahead of the front wheel. With my "alert" set on high I rolled out. I could tell the light still flashed on traffic signs 3/4 of a block away in the lower light of morning. That made me feel like I would still be seen by drivers. The difference was immediate. The traffic began to "flow" better. Drivers began to pull out ahead of me, as they should, without issue. Others, in line behind them, would pull up to the crosswalk and stay stopped until I cleared the intersection. They were seeing me. The question of being seen was actually answered on the 3rd day of the experiment. I met 2 other bikes on the way in to work. They flagged me down to ask what kind of light I had as they could see me from a very long way off. At least a half mile, probably more, by our reckoning. I saw their shape from several blocks away but, did not see their rinky dink light until we were in the same block! Convinced me that anything that blinks does not necessarily mean you can be seen.

This is just my experience of pointing my light [I]way[I] down. If anyone has the issue of drivers "freezing" at the stops for too long a period of time, you may want to try this on a segment of your commute that you would feel you could do so safely. YMMV. Be safe all.
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Old 10-02-14, 07:31 PM
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I have an L&M Urban 550 as my main light when I commute to see the road in front of me, but I also use a Blackburn Flea to gets peoples attention and I run both in flash during the day light hours.
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Old 10-03-14, 08:29 AM
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I followed the same thread with interest and I was even going to post, when they closed it. Like you, I also have notice that when I use to ride with the cygolite 700 on night blinkie and pointing slightly down, traffic doesn't flow like you say. I also have a B&M Luxos U Dynamo light, which I preffer (if I had to have only one) for the beam patter and brightness. When I turn the cygolite on steady low, I notice that the traffic flowed better.

After this dicovery, I started using the front blinkie as a horn to warn potential conflict with cars, specially on intersections or parking exits. However, after reading the blinkie post, I started to turn my cygolite much more aggressively to the road than before, just as you describe, 4 feet in front, and leaving the blinkie on all the time like before. I notice, like you, that traffic flows as like when I had it on steady low.

And that's how I've been riding for the last week or so. I feel drivers can judge my distance and speed better than when I used to ride with the night blinkie on and aim slightly down like before. I'm sure the way the blinkie is pointed down, is not as annoying as before. Not that that was ever a big concern of mine, but I feel it's safer by virtue of the traffic flow and been seen from farther distance, or better said, notice sooner, than just with the Dynamo light.

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Old 10-03-14, 12:46 PM
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Interesting...I think I have this right that this could be summarized like:

1. Rode with a 500 lumen front light on blinking mode, during the day, with the light aimed fairly far forward, but still down at the road.
2. Drivers would annoyingly do things like waiting way to long as places like stop signs, freezing in place, possibly because they couldn't judge your distance.
3. You tried pointing your light down more, closer to the wheel, which probably made the light less bright overall to drivers.
4. Result is that drivers acted more normally, and still seemed to be able to see you just as well

Does that sound right?
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Old 10-03-14, 01:08 PM
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a light can't be perfect for all occasions. for example I use a bright front strobe during daylight hours. on many roads, it's unnecessary. I use it for the rare occasions that it will save my life
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Old 10-03-14, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by downwinded
I have always kept it pointed down so that the splash on the road is approx 10'-12' ahead of the front wheel.

Pointed the light farther down so that the splash is about 4'-5' ahead of the front wheel.

With my "alert" set on high I rolled out. I could tell the light still flashed on traffic signs 3/4 of a block away in the lower light of morning. That made me feel like I would still be seen by drivers. The difference was immediate.

Can you elaborate on the alert mode? Is your personal awareness on alert level high or is this a mode on the light? Was the light flashing or solid I was not clear on that.

Great experiment. I have found similar results when using the solid front light (not as bright as yours). I also use a blinker on roads with traffic, but not on MUPs. I think that I point my lights about 3 feet to 5 feet ahead of my wheel and I adjust it depending on conditions, time of day and traffic volume.


Also a pet peeve, misuse and overuse of quotes.
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Old 10-03-14, 02:01 PM
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I also followed that thread, and have been running a blinking 250 lumen light pointed at the ground approximately 20' ahead of the front wheel. I also added a small tape visor because of some back glare.

I have received no comments positive or negative, and haven't observed any change in how motorists behave.
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Old 10-03-14, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers
Interesting...I think I have this right that this could be summarized like:

1. Rode with a 500 lumen front light on blinking mode, during the day, with the light aimed fairly far forward, but still down at the road.
2. Drivers would annoyingly do things like waiting way to long as places like stop signs, freezing in place, possibly because they couldn't judge your distance.
3. You tried pointing your light down more, closer to the wheel, which probably made the light less bright overall to drivers.
4. Result is that drivers acted more normally, and still seemed to be able to see you just as well

Does that sound right?
i think the OP is referring to the day time flashing mode, which is brighter than the night time flashing mode, but I think it's use during nights. Has to be, daytime flashing mode for day time riding has no other effect than you get notice sooner, at least for me. I personally, point the light straight out to traffic, on daytime flashing during the day.

On a different but related topic, I have collected data on how much pressure is left on my air horn after riding same route, same time, with runing day flasher and no lights. Got data on 10 rides, 5 with light and 5 without. Is a 14 mile strech I do on Thursday's from home to a church men's group. This data I collected over the summer months and started 2 1/2 hours before sunset and finished 1 1/2 hour before sunset, making the day light most effective, IMO.

The average pressure left on the horn for day lights running was 75 psi. The average for no lights was 40. That's filling the bottle to 100 psi and using my discretion as to when the horn would be require to catch the attention of the driver with enough time to react to me, rather than me react to him. Most of the time the horn was effective and I was able to keep my stride.

Somebody smarter than me could figure the numbers, but clearly, the cygolite 700 day runing blinkers, used during day, has a measurable advantage over no day running lights (reason in the first place I collected the data on pressure). I know its not even close to a definite study, however, it's enough to convince me to run them all the time.

And I suppouse, it also translate to an advantage during nights and could be measure somehow!

Double O

Last edited by Double0757; 10-03-14 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 10-03-14, 04:43 PM
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But wait......it's coming.

I hear keys clicking.

They are outlawed in Germany so you are all idiots.


Nevermind where they are illegal. I don't care. I live where I can run flashing lights so I run them. Scientific or not, absolute proof or not....I can tell a drop in the number of cars that pull out in front of me. I don't care anyway else about anything.

Daylight=Flash on my bikes.
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Old 10-03-14, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by gregjones
But wait......it's coming.
I hear keys clicking.
They are outlawed in Germany so you are all idiots.
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Old 10-03-14, 06:02 PM
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@PaulRivers. Yessir. @joeyduck. I was refering to personal alert mode. A couple of close calls is the reason I will always run a flashing light in the daytime. If the results had gone the other way, I intended to be prepared to stop. I know we all are pretty much on high alert all the time, but this was a change. Cars did not pull out in front of me with the light raised up a bit. I am not as comfortable with the light on solid based on my observations while driving. That flash gets my attention. @Double0757. Yes the daytime flashing mode. There is not really a nighttime flash but rather a "steady-pulse". It has a solid light that also flashes. Had the same thing on my Metro 300. It's quite visible but, I don't like to ride with it as it seems to get on my nerves. @gregjones. LOL. I even run mine out on the low traffic county roads because if your meeting a slow moving grain truck or whatever (45-50 mph would be slow on some of these roads), someone comes up behind them and decides to pull out quickly and pass, that flashing light is the best friend your gonna have!
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Old 10-03-14, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by downwinded
@Double0757. Yes the daytime flashing mode. There is not really a nighttime flash but rather a "steady-pulse". It has a solid light that also flashes. Had the same thing on my Metro 300. It's quite visible but, I don't like to ride with it as it seems to get on my
I agree! When I ride the CF road bike with only the Cygolight 700 the night flashing mode drives me crazy! With the Dynamo light combine, I hardly notice is there, I have to sometimes put my hand in front of it to tell which mode it is.

So, on the Giant CF, I use it on steady medium and put the blinkie when going thru busy intersection or a long strech with lots of parkings going to the the main road. I just put up with the annoyance for a while.

However, on the 1984 Cannondale commuter with The Luxos U Dynamo light, I run them all the time pointing down 4-6' in front of the tire, with no ill effect on traffic flow.

My conclusionis that with well aim steady beam on the road and not on the drivers face and a blinkie aim low, as not to blind or "annoyed" the driver, you get the best of both world. They can judge your speed better and still grab drivers attention earlier!


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Old 10-04-14, 12:07 AM
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Flashing lights are illegal in my country too. But you will not get fined in real life. In case of an accident, the driver would have to proove your light was on flashing mode. They do however help you get noticed even during day time. Not sure if they work better on steady, never tried that, but on flashing they get you noticed better than when turned off.
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