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Do You Use Side Lights?

Old 11-24-14, 12:06 AM
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Do You Use Side Lights?

I've read several threads on very high intensity lights, either front or rear.

However, I see few threads on side lighting, which, IMO, is just as important to make yourself visible to traffic coming from either side at intersections.

I would think that a blinkie, one left and one right, would be an excellent idea. Does anyone use side lights? What other methods do you use to make yourself visible to traffic on your left and right?

What's the ideal mounting position location for your side lights?
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Old 11-24-14, 12:38 AM
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Subscribing to this thread. I use reflectors on the spoke and rear panniers, also wear a reflector vest. I'm looking at monkey lights or other light weight option to have active side lights. Preferably on the tires or rear rack. Even though of LED strip for cars under lighting running on the side of the tube, or seat stay, or chain stay, on a small lithium ion 12v battery. But I think this set up would produce undesire upward light, that could destroy or mess with your night vision.
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Old 11-24-14, 01:47 AM
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In my opinion, side blinkers should only be placed behind rider on rear triangle. Even that might distract rider. I can't understand how some riders use blinkers on front. That would drive me insane. Blinkers only facing rear for me.

At maximum... 3M automotive reflective tape -- perhaps placed on sides of fork and rear triangle. And a non flashing headlight. And one or two blinkers on rear. Two blinkers on rear is supposed to help motorists see you better via depth perception. A headlamp seems like a wonderful tool also, especially for seeing what that noise was beside you on that dark lonely trail.

My main concern is motorists behind me, and me being able to see. Defensive riding shouldn't yield side lights. But what do I know.
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Old 11-24-14, 02:07 AM
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On the positive side, by the time headlights light up side reflectors, it is too late. On the negative side, you don't want either flashing lights or your legs causing flashing to distract your visual field.
I prefer headlights and tail lights that cast light to the sides, and consider that sufficient. Tail lights usually do, but headlights not so much. Unlike on a truck, people aren't going to try to drive into the gap between the two lights.
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Old 11-24-14, 02:39 AM
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I don't see that much of a point. Good headlights/tail lights are not so directional that they don't illuminate a 180° field or more. The light isn't so focused on the edges of the beam but that's not the point. It's be-seen here. You also don't really need the light at a 90° angle. 30° or less is more useful to cross/parallel traffic and a regular light setup already does that.
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Old 11-24-14, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by newbie101
I've read several threads on very high intensity lights, either front or rear.

However, I see few threads on side lighting, which, IMO, is just as important to make yourself visible to traffic coming from either side at intersections.

I would think that a blinkie, one left and one right, would be an excellent idea. Does anyone use side lights? What other methods do you use to make yourself visible to traffic on your left and right?

What's the ideal mounting position location for your side lights?
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Old 11-24-14, 08:52 AM
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I dont use side lights per say but I have reflective sidewalls on my tires. I have a small LED blinking on my fork facing straight ahead but it is a simple exposed LED so light is there. I have yellow side leds on my Mars taillight. It has one LED shooting left and right. It is mounted under my seat. My panniers have reflective stuff on them too.

I am more concerned about people coming up behind me than from the side. I think It would be fun to get some electroluminscent wire and wrap bike during thanksgiving through new years but it might mess with my night vision some so I havent yet.
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Old 11-24-14, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by catgita
by the time headlights light up side reflectors, it is too late
I'm with catgita.

If I'm passing through an intersection and a car is moving and close enough that collision is imminent, it's not due to a failure of side markings (whether reflective or illuminated). It's my failure to pay attention for having put myself in that situation to begin with.

If the car is not moving or is distant enough that collision is not imminent, then it doesn't matter. If collision is imminent, no amount of light is going to help.

That said, my bikes are in compliance with section 1236 of the New York State vehicle and traffic laws which states that one of my lights must be able to be seen from the side at a distance of 200 feet. The Ribble's taillight complies, and the Portland's headlight and taillight both comply.
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Old 11-24-14, 09:27 AM
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I use reflective tape liberally on my bike and I'm a fan of commuting tires with reflective material. Also this light from L&M (the vis 180) has good side visibility. Vis 180 - Choose Your Light - Light & Motion

I like the little status light which tells you when the L&M light needs to be recharged.

High end blinkies tend to be very directional.

I'm with tsl; side visibility may not do you a lot of good in an intersection but it can't hurt. Everything else being equal, why not buy/use products that help with side visibility?
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Old 11-24-14, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl
I'm with catgita.

If I'm passing through an intersection and a car is moving and close enough that collision is imminent, it's not due to a failure of side markings (whether reflective or illuminated). It's my failure to pay attention for having put myself in that situation to begin with.
Thank goodness people on this site finally realize that the biker has to take responsibility for their own safety! I always watch cars approaching from cross streets, and I watch the wheels of cars stopped at stop signs on cross streets. I find it's the easiest way to tell if it's moving or not. I also visibly turn my head to look at the driver.

Anyway, I recently purchased Nite Ize spoke lights to combat this problem.

Amazon.com : Nite Ize Spokelit Bicycle Light (Red) : Bike Headlights : Sports & Outdoors

I liked the monkey lights, and the fancy 8 bit graphics lights, but they're too complicated, take 3 AAA batteries (that have to be mounted to the spinning rim), and are honestly unnecessary. I think the spinning spoke light is enough to make people realize you're there. Sure, some people are oblivious and will still miss you, but that's why you bike defensively!
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Old 11-24-14, 09:38 AM
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I use a NiteIze Spokelit in my rear wheel. Yesterday, a roadie gave me a compliment on it. You can see it from the front and rear as well as the sides, since it spins in the wheel.

I use only one because when it's in the front wheel, it distracts me too much. I think one is enough for the job it does.
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Old 11-24-14, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
I'm with tsl; side visibility may not do you a lot of good in an intersection but it can't hurt. Everything else being equal, why not buy/use products that help with side visibility?
Perhaps you missed the part where I said my lights comply with New York State law for side visibility.

EDIT: Wait, maybe I misinterpreted your post?
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Old 11-24-14, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl
Perhaps you missed the part where I said my lights comply with New York State law for side visibility.

EDIT: Wait, maybe I misinterpreted your post?
lol, yeah I think we are largely agreeing.
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Old 11-24-14, 10:42 AM
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On both my bikes, in addition to a dedicated headlight, I have a forward and rearward blinker. All have slightly better than 180° visibility. And on my roadie I have them MPUNTED NEXT TO THE SPOKES so the light scatters in a all directions. I also have an inexpensive LED flashlight facing forward on my helmet and a 2nd blinkie on the rear of my helmet, so that if I turn and look sideways, the helmet headlight is shining that way. I, too have liberal applications of 3M reflective tape on both bikes, helmet and backpack plus a reflective safety vest.
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Old 11-24-14, 10:54 AM
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I think visibility is worst at dusk, dawn, or when the weather is hazey and overcast. Daylight is present but poor. This is when many drivers are yet to turn on their headlights, making reflectors useless. I don’t think the Spokelit is bright enough in these conditions either.

If I didn’t just get the PDW Danger Zone, I’d get that Vis 180.
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Old 11-24-14, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
I use a NiteIze Spokelit in my rear wheel. Yesterday, a roadie gave me a compliment on it. You can see it from the front and rear as well as the sides, since it spins in the wheel.

I use only one because when it's in the front wheel, it distracts me too much. I think one is enough for the job it does.
Thanks for the info. I think I'll get the spokelit.

Originally Posted by BobbyG
On both my bikes, in addition to a dedicated headlight, I have a forward and rearward blinker. All have slightly better than 180° visibility. And on my roadie I have them MPUNTED NEXT TO THE SPOKES so the light scatters in a all directions. I also have an inexpensive LED flashlight facing forward on my helmet and a 2nd blinkie on the rear of my helmet, so that if I turn and look sideways, the helmet headlight is shining that way. I, too have liberal applications of 3M reflective tape on both bikes, helmet and backpack plus a reflective safety vest.
Great info and great post.
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Old 11-24-14, 01:21 PM
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Wheel lights provide excellent side visibility. And wheel motion.
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Old 11-24-14, 01:34 PM
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I've thought about the SpokeLit, but they always seem to be out of stock on everything except blue or green. What I'd prefer is to stick with the standard colors; white or amber front, red or amber back. Most people will recognize that on a more-or-less unconscious level and perceive automatically (unless they're both amber of course) that white is in front and red is in back, so they won't misunderstand the direction of travel.

I already do that to some extent with Scotchlite strips on the rims; three yellow and a white on the front wheel, three yellow and a red on the rear giving motion and properly placed color.
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Old 11-24-14, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by KD5NRH
I've thought about the SpokeLit, but they always seem to be out of stock on everything except blue or green. What I'd prefer is to stick with the standard colors; white or amber front, red or amber back. Most people will recognize that on a more-or-less unconscious level and perceive automatically (unless they're both amber of course) that white is in front and red is in back, so they won't misunderstand the direction of travel.

I already do that to some extent with Scotchlite strips on the rims; three yellow and a white on the front wheel, three yellow and a red on the rear giving motion and properly placed color.
I know, the SpokeLit comes in only weird colors. I live with it. I think the one I usually use is green. Whatever.
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Old 11-24-14, 02:25 PM
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I have a lot of problems with side traffic, nobody stops for stop signs around here and they really aren't looking for bicycles at night. I have thought about getting a monkeylectric
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Old 11-24-14, 03:17 PM
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I have a reflective strip on my tires, reflective bits here and there, bar light, helmet light and tail light (plus more taillights for riding in traffic). Therefore, specific sidelights would be pointless. The best sidelight is my helmet light, which appears to cause considerable discomfort when fully deployed (emergency situations only).
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Old 11-24-14, 03:26 PM
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^^^ Pointless? Have someone look at you when riding past them in the dark. I find sidelights very useful. And visible.
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Old 11-24-14, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo
^^^ Pointless? Have someone look at you when riding past them in the dark. I find sidelights very useful. And visible.
Yes, pointless. I am vis360.
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Old 11-24-14, 03:45 PM
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A bike is not "that" long.. My head and tail light are also visible from the side..

in Winter I wear gear like a Parka, Tow truck drivers wear .. lots of wide reflective striping..


Back in the shop , where they built a Long wheel base cargo Bikes we considered adding a side of the cargo Bed light
since it was Longer between head and taillight. not sure if anyone would try to ride their bike between the head and tail light,

T-boning you, just because its a couple feet further separated.

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-28-14 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 11-24-14, 04:24 PM
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I have reflective sidewall tires, but if i did get side lights they would probably be the spoke mounted type.

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