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Side visibility at night

Old 11-30-15, 06:05 PM
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msilenus
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Side visibility at night

I'm curious what folks do for side visibility. I've done a few searches both on-forum and off, and there don't seem to be very many lighting products aimed at this.

Does anyone take rear lights and point them sideways? Is that crazy?

Can anyone recommend a specific side-lighting solution?

Thanks.
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Old 11-30-15, 06:32 PM
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You can do a number of things. First and cheapest is to use reflectors on your wheels. Not the plastic ones, which don't seem to work all that well, but spoke wraps made from 3M reflective material. Look for Salzmann reflectors on Amazon.

above that, you can put lights on your wheels. Check out Revolights, or even LED tire valve covers.

I also have used a couple small flashing red lights on the ends of my handlebars, facing to the side.

finally, look for headlights and tail lights that show light to the side, as well as to the front.
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Old 11-30-15, 08:30 PM
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Several tire manufacturers sell tires with reflective sidewalls which I use (Vittoria for example). They really light up at night as I have seen.
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Old 12-01-15, 07:54 AM
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I use a helmet light for side visibility. If someone is approaching from the side and it's not clear they are going to stop, they get a look at my helmet light.

My lbs has spoke lights for a very reasonable price. I have been thinking about those
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Old 12-01-15, 01:02 PM
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Spoke lights seem to be extremely effective. I get compliments on mine. It uses a disposable watch battery which lasts months.

I run one in the rear wheel only because a light in my front wheel distracts me too much.

I'm going to try these spoke reflectors, which I just got.
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Old 12-01-15, 02:39 PM
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This light has great side visibility






****
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Old 12-01-15, 03:51 PM
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I sometimes use an obnoxious, flashing helmet light which I shine in the face of people who should know to stop for me (e.g. when they're coming up to a stop sign as I'm riding down the main street). However, that's visibility from the front. I make a point not to stop in front of a driveway or in the middle of a cross street, which might need some visibility from the side, and after that I don't worry about it.
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Old 12-01-15, 04:31 PM
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I have a bike headlight that is as bright as my car on low beams. The light on the ground and other things near by is easy to notice. Even before I get to a corner, like a car.

I also have a 160 lumen tailight that has no weak places as you move to the side or at an angle away from straight back. I don't know how they did it, but the lens works 100% illumination from all angles. Even past straight to the side, going towards the front a little.

I ride with a guy that has the reflective tire sidewalls, they are incredibly good. When driving I saw a rider that used reflective tape on his wheels about halfway around. The moving effect of the half circle going around was very very good. I have seen reflective tape on a wheel in pieces about four inches long, and about four inches apart. That was great too. My panniers also have white reflective tape on them facing sideways. All kinds of things can be done with reflective tape. Use the 3m brand it lasts longer.
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Old 12-02-15, 12:31 AM
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I hate to be too negative about the driving habits of my fellow Central Pennsylvanians, but it's all too common that they approach a stop sign at fairly high speed, slow down considerably while scanning quickly for cross traffic, and then accelerate rapidly if they think things are clear. This would only be mildly dangerous if there were only motor vehicle traffic. However, what often happens with a bicycle is that they miss you because of the A pillar, and then when they hit the gas again you are right in front of the car. So they never really see your headlight or your taillight -- no matter how bright it is. Side reflectors might work, spoke lights probably work, but the helmet light thing always works.
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Old 12-02-15, 01:00 AM
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Spoke lights, lighted arm/leg bands, or extra taillights mounted on seat stays at about 45 degrees angle. Sometimes I use two taillights placed side by side slightly facing outward (away from each other), which gives visibility to rear and both sides.

Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
I also have used a couple small flashing red lights on the ends of my handlebars, facing to the side.
Question for all: is it a good or bad idea to use red lights pointing directly to the side (rather than 45 degree angle backward)? Wouldn't that sometimes mislead drivers in distance into thinking that is your rear, not side?

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I run one in the rear wheel only because a light in my front wheel distracts me too much.
Indeed. When I first got the 'disco' color-changing spoke lights and put them on my rear wheel, I found myself keeping turning my head back to admire the light.

A side-benefit of those nice looking spoke lights is that they stop pedestrians who enjoy watching the lights.

Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
The light on the ground and other things near by is easy to notice.
^^^ I have the same observation.

Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
I also have a 160 lumen tailight that has no weak places as you move to the side or at an angle away from straight back. .
What light is that? 160 lumen tail light?
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Old 12-02-15, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by msilenus View Post
I'm curious what folks do for side visibility. I've done a few searches both on-forum and off, and there don't seem to be very many lighting products aimed at this.

Does anyone take rear lights and point them sideways? Is that crazy?

Can anyone recommend a specific side-lighting solution?

Thanks.
Using appropriate colors for light position increases safety by making identification and understanding, both of your bike as a vehicle and its orientation and direction of travel, faster, more intuitive and accurate. In other words, use amber for sidemarking, not red.

Specifically, I can recommend Fibreflare, which can be mounted on the downtube, and is highly visible from all angles as it also casts ground splash as well as direct side-out light.

Fibre Flare? Full Size Amber FIbre Flare Full Size Amber Bicycle Side Light [SA01] - $39.99 : Aspen Products / Fibre Flare USA Fibre Optic Lights, Fibre optic Lights for Cycling, Motoercycles, Construction, Camping and Military use.
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Old 12-02-15, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
What light is that? 160 lumen tail light?

Lupine Lighting Systems - Products ? Rear / Tail Lights ? ROTLICHT
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Old 12-02-15, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
Question for all: is it a good or bad idea to use red lights pointing directly to the side (rather than 45 degree angle backward)? Wouldn't that sometimes mislead drivers in distance into thinking that is your rear, not side?
I had a bit of a concern about that as well, but I also have those rather bright spoke reflectors to indicate my position and direction. Also, my tail light shines out the side as well as the back, so it could also be accused of "misleading" drivers.

I do like Chaadster's link to the FibreFlare lights though! I'll check those out.
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Old 12-02-15, 11:20 AM
  #14  
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My two big fears are being taken out by a car pulling out of a driveway or righthand side street and a head-on with a left turning car. Hitting the car pulling out of the side street would be messy. Colliding with the left turning car - very likely fatal.

So, in recent years I added rear flashers (Planet Bike) to the waist strap of my reflective vest so they sit on the forward corner of my hip. Cars apparently see them as I now observe cars clearly waiting for me. This even happens on the days when I forget to put the headlight on my bike. (First time I forgot the headlight, I was slowing and yielding for left turning cars until I realized we were pulling the old Pennsylvania driving law of each motorist waiting until the other had passed. Obviously they saw me!)

I have also been told those lights on my hips are very visible from behind although that was never my intent. The part I like is that they are completely out of my vision, even when I am riding stealth without a headlight. (I never plan to ride "stealth". I do however sometimes forget to move the headlight from the charger or other bike when I am leaving in daylight hours. The vest lives with my riding clothes indoors and gets included as I pack my bag. I did ride without a headlight intentionally for decades after I hit an opening car door and realized motorists absolutely were not aware of the feeble pre-halogen headlights. I used a rear light and the French leg light; again a light I don't see while I am riding but is very noticeable to others.)

Ben
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Old 12-02-15, 01:34 PM
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I was at a sporting good store (Paragon in NYC) which has a lot of jogging equipment. Jog-A-Lite now has arm and leg bands that light up, and these would be easier to use than the old French leg light.

I saw an Australian study that found that reflective material on the ankles is good (which we know) and also that reflective material on the knees is good. Knee visibility isn't something we think of often.

So putting this stuff together, maybe some reflective or lit-up stuff on our ankles and knees would make a good practice.

@79pmooney, you might enjoy the advantages of dynamo lighting, given that you sometimes forget your headlight. It comes on automatically, and it stays bolted to your bike. I've found it to be a worthwhile investment for me.
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Old 12-02-15, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Spoke lights seem to be extremely effective. I get compliments on mine. It uses a disposable watch battery which lasts months.

I run one in the rear wheel only because a light in my front wheel distracts me too much.

I'm going to try these spoke reflectors, which I just got.
These are really cheap and fairly benign during daylight. I may try a set as well.
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Old 12-02-15, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
These are really cheap and fairly benign during daylight. I may try a set as well.
I was planning on distributing them around the wheel evenly, but now I plan to bunch them up closely and let them occupy only one portion of the wheel, thanks to comments above.
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Old 12-02-15, 07:39 PM
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Thanks for all the information, recommendations, and discussion. My takeaways so far are:
Active > Passive.
Orange > OtherColor > Red or White.
Bright helmet lights are good.

My ideal solution would be something I can conveniently recharge at my desk at work, but I'm not seeing something that ticks all the boxes with that one included. I'm leaning toward getting a FiberFlare and keeping some spare rechargeable AAAs in my pocket. What about security on that guy? How easy is it to remove when using the "silicone ladder slings" to mount?
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Old 12-02-15, 09:06 PM
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My first bike came with Vittoria tires with reflective sidewalls - very nice for side visibility. They also came with plastic spoke reflectors but they don't stand out as much as the reflective sidewall. I later added some generic reflective dot stickers that I picked up from REI - put them on the top tube and headset.

I also got M210 MonkeyLights but I've only used them on a Halloween group ride when we formed an impromptu bike parade to much enthusiasm from onlooking pedestrians and motorists alike. I'm not too worried about using lights for side visibility because a lot of cars don't have them - even if the headlight and tailight of the car is not pointing directly at you, you can still see those lights from the side - and same seems to be true for cyclists. BTW, if you sign up for the MonkeyLectric newsletter, they'll send you a 10% off coupon code. Note that one set of MonkeyLights is for one wheel - you'll need to order 2 if you want them on both wheels.

My 2nd bike came with one plastic reflector and that's it - front wheel doesn't even have one. No reflective sidewall. The LBS that sold it to me though sells "spokee" reflective stickers - these are designed to to on the rims around the spokes. I'm installing spokees on both wheels on this bike. If they end up falling off or whatever, I may try the clip-on spoke strips that noglider mentioned. I also just ordered some reflective stickers from this Etsy store - https://www.etsy.com/shop/SewardStre...tion_leftnav_1 - because I liked the designs - something with a bit more personality than generic, geometric shapes. I plan to put the vintage swirl stickers on the top tube and other parts of the frame, and the Om sticker on the rear fender.

My Novarra Tempest cycling tights have wide reflective stripes that run virtually all along the length of the leg. They're pretty bright when you shine a light on them. In cold weather, I've taken to wearing them under my mountain bike/casual cycling shorts, which also have reflective striping.

I agree with the others that helmet lights are great for catching the attention of zoned-out motorists who are about to pull in front of you from a driveway or other road crossing the road/path you're riding on. At first I wondered why the helmet mount that came with my Cygolite Expilion doesn't lock the light completely from movement, then I appreciated being able to adjust the angle quickly for scenarios like this (distracted drivers). Normally I have the helmet light pointed to the ground but it's nice to be able to point it further up when needed. Nothing gets a driver's attention at night as effectively as a light shining at them.

Last edited by GovernorSilver; 12-02-15 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 12-02-15, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by msilenus View Post
Orange > OtherColor > Red or White.
I'm not sure what you mean here. For purposes of side lighting it shouldn't make as much of a different as simply having a solid headlight-taillight pair, and those only come in white-red.

If you're talking about choice of color for reflective stickers and other reflective products, this article seems to say white is the brightest, followed by yellow. Orange is a bit further down in the rankings.

Which Retro Reflective Tape Is The Brightest ? | Retro Reflective Tape
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Old 12-02-15, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by msilenus View Post
Thanks for all the information, recommendations, and discussion. My takeaways so far are:

Bright helmet lights are good.
I have to disagree with that as it seems many who use them exercise very poor control over them through ignorance or laziness.

On my way home from work this evening on a dark, rural MUT, some clown shined one right in my face.
When I saw him coming, I turned off my battery light and dimmed my dyno light, yet this thoughtless coward didn't make the slightest effort to dim his headlight or aim his helmet light in another direction.
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Old 12-02-15, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
My two big fears are being taken out by a car pulling out of a driveway or righthand side street and a head-on with a left turning car. Hitting the car pulling out of the side street would be messy. Colliding with the left turning car - very likely fatal.

So, in recent years I added rear flashers (Planet Bike) to the waist strap of my reflective vest so they sit on the forward corner of my hip. Cars apparently see them as I now observe cars clearly waiting for me. This even happens on the days when I forget to put the headlight on my bike. (First time I forgot the headlight, I was slowing and yielding for left turning cars until I realized we were pulling the old Pennsylvania driving law of each motorist waiting until the other had passed. Obviously they saw me!)

I have also been told those lights on my hips are very visible from behind although that was never my intent. The part I like is that they are completely out of my vision, even when I am riding stealth without a headlight. (I never plan to ride "stealth". I do however sometimes forget to move the headlight from the charger or other bike when I am leaving in daylight hours. The vest lives with my riding clothes indoors and gets included as I pack my bag. I did ride without a headlight intentionally for decades after I hit an opening car door and realized motorists absolutely were not aware of the feeble pre-halogen headlights. I used a rear light and the French leg light; again a light I don't see while I am riding but is very noticeable to others.)

Ben
I had a somewhat close call last week. A car was pulling out of a gas station as I approached. He did a slow roll without stopping, and I had to swerve to the left as he finally stopped well into my lane. My headlight was probably on it's 550 lumen setting.

This is similar to how a car pulling out of a parking lot in daylight clipped my rear wheel some years ago. I think that my bike and the car were both traveling at similar speeds at 90 degrees. So I was staying in about the same position, looking out the car windows, as we both closed the gap.

A side light wouldn't have helped much. I was 30 to 50 feet away with a very bright headlight as he started to move. But an up-and-down ankle light might have made a difference.

I just need to be extra attentive of these cars pulling out, and slow down a little in advance.

Fibre Flair light

I have one of these. I attach it to the seat stay to be a second rear light, along with my blinker. I think it helps in the city, since it's an 8 inch long glowing tube that's omnidirectional. It's about as bright as a glow stick. The length of the light makes it easy to see how far away I am, instead of just being a point source. It's powered by 2 AAA batteries, and there's an LED at each end of the clear solid plastic tube that makes the whole tube glow. It's nice on night group rides, since it's not too bright for the following riders.

It's somewhat fragile. The end caps can come loose from the tube fairly easily, and it's not really waterproof. But mine is still working after a few winters of riding.

Last edited by rm -rf; 12-02-15 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 12-02-15, 09:54 PM
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My winter bike (which has seen a lot of 2.5 hour rides beginning after work at 5pm), has lights and Marathon Supremes, which have reflective sidewalls.
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Old 12-03-15, 12:00 AM
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I put the Continental Touring tires on my Specialized Sirrus (reflective sidewalls), really light up nice.
Lots of comments from bikers that didn't know about reflective sidewalls.
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Old 12-03-15, 11:08 AM
  #25  
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I used the reflective pin striping on our bikes and on my helmet. The pics below show the reflection by using a flash.

In addition I am wearing a high visibility vest above my jacket. The ones you get for under $10 at Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Neiko%C2%AE-53...2V93GGWJK2JN3E
Get the vest one size larger than your jacket so it fits on top of a thicker jacket. The Neiko vests are available all the way up to size XXXL.

And I also have the spoke reflectors which I still need to put on.
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