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To blink or not to blink, that is the question.

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To blink or not to blink, that is the question.

Old 12-01-11, 07:19 PM
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To blink or not to blink, that is the question.

When night falls how do you roll? Do you set your headlight on blink mode or steady? Do two or more lights light up your way?

I ask because a cyclist I know here in MN told me that having your light set to blinky mode after dark is illegal. He thinks that blinky mode is for daylight or twilight hours while steady mode is for the deep of the night.

Thoughts?

I, for one, go back and forth. On MUPs after dark I go steady and have it on a lower setting so I don't annoy other cyclists. On roads (generally) I like to have the strobe effect going. Maybe it's a fantasy, but I feel more visible and safer.
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Old 12-01-11, 07:28 PM
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Depends on the situation, pothole searching mode -
steady. trying to get the most attention from
drivers - blinking mode.

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Old 12-01-11, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by SnowJob View Post
I ask because a cyclist I know here in MN told me that having your light set to blinky mode after dark is illegal. He thinks that blinky mode is for daylight or twilight hours while steady mode is for the deep of the night.
This is pretty much what I do. Though I am planning to start using a second rear light in flashing mode.

Here's a post about the laws in Minnesota. Flashing rear lights are permitted, but flashing front lights are not.
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Old 12-01-11, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by SnowJob View Post
When night falls how do you roll? Do you set your headlight on blink mode or steady? Do two or more lights light up your way?

I ask because a cyclist I know here in MN told me that having your light set to blinky mode after dark is illegal. He thinks that blinky mode is for daylight or twilight hours while steady mode is for the deep of the night.

Thoughts?

I, for one, go back and forth. On MUPs after dark I go steady and have it on a lower setting so I don't annoy other cyclists. On roads (generally) I like to have the strobe effect going. Maybe it's a fantasy, but I feel more visible and safer.
I go steady for the dark parts of my commute and blinky for the well lit, but heavy traffic sections. I'll switch to steady if I am behind another cyclist. Usually cover blinking headlight with hand at cross walks with pedestrians. They always seem to look right at the light and then give me a look like its too bright, even though they looked straight into it.
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Old 12-01-11, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by CaptainCool View Post
This is pretty much what I do. Though I am planning to start using a second rear light in flashing mode.

Here's a post about the laws in Minnesota. Flashing rear lights are permitted, but flashing front lights are not.
Thanks for the helpful link! The weird thing is, I've been riding around with a blinking front light for years and never knew this. Laziness on my part or what?
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Old 12-01-11, 10:26 PM
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In the early days of the web, there was a similar question about an "innovation" in HTML code called the blink tag. It was HTML markup that made text "blink" at about 1 Hz. (that is also an option within the ANSI codes used to format text in Unix terminal windows, so the first text based web browsers were able to implement "blink" easily.)

Should web pages blink? Some people used that blink tag all the time. But it evenually vanished from use because as people grew to spend more time on the web, its use was seen as annoying.

Personally, I think in lights its aggravating but maybe necessary in the most bicycle hostile areas.

No blinking makes sense in an environment where people pay more attention than they do here.

Evidently in Germany blinking tail lights are also prohibited. I think one can't blink LEDs unless you are a police or emergency vehicle.

Last edited by christ0ph; 12-02-11 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 12-05-11, 05:42 AM
  #7  
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I use my bright Cree flashlight on solid and my Cateye EL135 on blink at night. I also have one solid rear and one blinking rear light.
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Old 12-05-11, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by christ0ph View Post
In the early days of the web, there was a similar question about an "innovation" in HTML code called the blink tag. It was HTML markup that made text "blink" at about 1 Hz. (that is also an option within the ANSI codes used to format text in Unix terminal windows, so the first text based web browsers were able to implement "blink" easily.)

Should web pages blink? Some people used that blink tag all the time. But it evenually vanished from use because as people grew to spend more time on the web, its use was seen as annoying.

Personally, I think in lights its aggravating but maybe necessary in the most bicycle hostile areas.

No blinking makes sense in an environment where people pay more attention than they do here.

Evidently in Germany blinking tail lights are also prohibited. I think one can't blink LEDs unless you are a police or emergency vehicle.
Hmmmm, but think about it. Cyclist are slow on the road compared to most cars so a blinking tail light would indicate that your a cyclist. It's become universal over here. Neither do bikes really travel at the same speed of the car or ever get tailed by a car so the other car doesn't really need to know when to stop when you do. They usually just over take you and that's that.
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Old 12-05-11, 07:45 AM
  #9  
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Blinking taillight, steady headlight. A blinking headlight is hard to see with and extremely annoying to drivers with little safety benefit, IMHO. On the other hand, a blinking taillight is not as annoying, effective at getting drivers' attention and will last much longer on a charge.
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Old 12-05-11, 08:04 AM
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Two lights front and rear. One steady and one flashing on each end. Flashing to attract attention and to differentiate from other traffic and lights. Steady to provide riding light in the front and to improve the spatial perception of drivers. Front is a 600+ lm steady for seeing the road and the other is a 100 lm flasher.
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Old 12-05-11, 02:17 PM
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One blinking and one steady tail light is a good combination. The blinking one gets drivers attention and makes you stand out in a sea of other red lights. The stead one gives drivers a consistent point of reference to gauge distance, speed, and your location.
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Old 12-05-11, 02:39 PM
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If you have only one headlight, then steady mode is certainly more appropriate for night riding. If your have one bike mounted light and a helmet mounted light, then I'd still keep both on steady in poorly-lit areas.

One case when a blinking headlight is appropriate at night is when you have two or more bike-mounted headlights. If the area is relatively well lit, then it might make sense to switch the helmet mounted light into blinking mode. (Of course, only where it is legal)

Last edited by AndreyT; 12-05-11 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 12-05-11, 03:10 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by SnowJob View Post
When night falls how do you roll? Do you set your headlight on blink mode or steady? Do two or more lights light up your way?

I ask because a cyclist I know here in MN told me that having your light set to blinky mode after dark is illegal. He thinks that blinky mode is for daylight or twilight hours while steady mode is for the deep of the night.

Thoughts?

I, for one, go back and forth. On MUPs after dark I go steady and have it on a lower setting so I don't annoy other cyclists. On roads (generally) I like to have the strobe effect going. Maybe it's a fantasy, but I feel more visible and safer.
I use multiple lights, four CatEye Uno's mounted to the bike two on the handlebars and two on the fork. I also have a Light and Motion Stella 150L mounted on my helmet. The four Uno's are set to blink and the Stella is left in steady mode.

According to F.S. 316.2397 it is illegal for any vehicle to have flashing lights:

(7) Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as a means of indicating a right or left turn, to change lanes, or to indicate that the vehicle is lawfully stopped or disabled upon the highway or except that the lamps authorized in subsections (1), (2), (3), (4), and (9) and s. 316.235(5) are permitted to flash.

I'm not sure if our running with head/taillights in blink mode would violate this or not. I can say that while riding at night with my four Uno's in blink mode that I have been passed by numerous patrol cars and not one of them have doubled back to pull me over.

There have been a number of towns/cities here in Florida that have pulled drivers over for "flashing" their headlights to warn other motorists of a speed trap. Most if not all of those tickets have been dismissed when the drivers have taken them to court and the departments that issued them were told to stop, BUT of course there are those departments that still think that the law is on their side and are continuing to write those tickets.

Last edited by Digital_Cowboy; 12-05-11 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 12-05-11, 03:11 PM
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Brake lights would be a good idea. Also, there is no reason why LEDs can't be both steady and flash (superimposed over it)
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Old 12-05-11, 03:16 PM
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The police officers that I know would be overjoyed to see bicyclists or pedestrians doing more, I would guess anything they could, within limits, to make themselves more visible to the idiot drivers on the roads.

This time of year they see SO many accidents.

Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
I use multiple lights, four CatEye Uno's mounted to the bike two on the handlebars and two on the fork. I also have a Light and Motion Stella 150L mounted on my helmet. The four Uno's are set to blink and the Stella is left in steady mode.
....
Section of Florida law prohibiting blinking omitted..
...
I can say that while riding at night with my four Uno's in blink mode that I have been passed by numerous patrol cars and not one of them have doubled back to pull me over.
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Old 12-05-11, 03:51 PM
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Steady light with blink back up
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Old 12-05-11, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by christ0ph View Post
The police officers that I know would be overjoyed to see bicyclists or pedestrians doing more, I would guess anything they could, within limits, to make themselves more visible to the idiot drivers on the roads.

This time of year they see SO many accidents.
Not too surprisingly I've had a number of people motorists and pedestrians alike compliment me on my lighting system.

I have had a couple of people comment that I look like an "alien" when I pass them. Along with the "you look like a Christmas tree" comments. But hey at least they see me and are acknowledging that they've seen me so that is a good thing.

Not too surprisingly I've also have had a few motorists who were waiting to pull out onto the road that I am on wait for me to pass even when I've been a block or better away from the intersection.

The sad thing though is that even with all the lights I have on my bike. As I've said I've got four CatEye Uno's on the front and three CatEye 3/5 LED taillights as well as a CatEye Rapid 3 taillight mounted on the left side of my bike as a kind of running light.
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Old 12-05-11, 04:32 PM
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The law in the UK was changed to allow blinkies although technically they should be used alongside a steady light, the police just want cyclists to have lights - they are even handing out blinkies themselves.
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Old 12-05-11, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by CaptCarrot View Post
The law in the UK was changed to allow blinkies although technically they should be used alongside a steady light, the police just want cyclists to have lights - they are even handing out blinkies themselves.
Here in the States I think that that is one of the things that is left to each state and/or city/county to decide for themselves. I would like to see LEOs here handing out inexpensive lightsets to cyclists.
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Old 12-05-11, 09:25 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by christ0ph View Post
Also, there is no reason why LEDs can't be both steady and flash (superimposed over it)
Exactly what the Light & Motion VIS180 does.
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Old 12-05-11, 11:03 PM
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Reflective material is so cheap in quantity it makes a lot of sense to use a lot of it on your bike.
AND put it on anything else you commonly use/carry
AND give precut pieces of it to people you know who have bikes too.
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Old 12-06-11, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
Depends on the situation, pothole searching mode -
steady. trying to get the most attention from drivers - blinking mode.
yup. if you need to see, use a steady light. if you need to be seen, blinking is better at getting attention - faster blinking is better than slower blinking. if both seeing and being seen is a concern, then run one light blinking AND one light steady.

FWIW, i run a PB blaze 2W (about 80lm) flashing, day or night. anything other than bright sunlight i also run a lightstar300 (about 300lm) on steady.

i usually (pretty much always, these days) run two 1W rear lights, flashing, about 35lm each. tonight i rode home (in the rain) with two PBSF turbos flashing... and i noticed that cars were eager to not be close behind me, and they seemed happy to use the other lane to pass . for the money, those are pretty harsh lights
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Old 12-20-11, 09:45 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
According to F.S. 316.2397 it is illegal for any vehicle to have flashing lights:

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=-1](7) Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as a means of indicating a right or left turn, to change lanes, or to indicate that the vehicle is lawfully stopped or disabled upon the highway or except that the lamps authorized in subsections (1), (2), (3), (4), and (9) and s. 316.235(5) are permitted to flash.

I'm not sure if our running with head/taillights in blink mode would violate this or not.

In Washington State, blinking tail lights are specifically legal for bicycles, as a specific exception to the law banning flashing lights on any vehicle.

Since the law specifically addresses bicycle tail lights as an exception to the blanket prohibition on blinking lights, it's reasonable to assume the Legislature did consider bicycles when drafting the law, and since they didn't allow blinking headlights, blinking headlights are covered by the blanket ban.

RCW 46.37.280
Special restrictions on lamps.

(3) Flashing lights are prohibited except as required in RCW 46.37.190, 46.37.200, 46.37.210, 46.37.215, and 46.37.300, warning lamps authorized by the state patrol, and light-emitting diode flashing taillights on bicycles.
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Old 12-20-11, 09:50 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by christ0ph View Post
there is no reason why LEDs can't be both steady and flash (superimposed over it)
Modulating output is different legal territory from flashing/blinking. If you're talking about a modest flashing boost to a steady headlight, that's used on many motorcycles to increase conspicuity. Many states allow modulated headlights, subject to regulations that usually limit the amount of fluctuation.

(On motorcycles, headlight modulation was originally a defect, caused by the varying voltage of magneto-driven electrical systems. Today, with alternators and larger batteries, motorcycles maintain steady voltage, just like cars, so they add circuitry to intentionally vary the headlight intensity.)
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Old 12-21-11, 12:30 PM
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I am not speaking from a position of knowledge, so much, but there *may* possibly be some LED life issues brought up by some kinds of variable power operation.

That would be more a question to examine the manufacturers' datasheet for your exact LED about.

Also, some colors of LEDs last much less time than others. They don't all age at the same rate.


Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
Modulating output is different legal territory from flashing/blinking. If you're talking about a modest flashing boost to a steady headlight, that's used on many motorcycles to increase conspicuity. Many states allow modulated headlights, subject to regulations that usually limit the amount of fluctuation.

(On motorcycles, headlight modulation was originally a defect, caused by the varying voltage of magneto-driven electrical systems. Today, with alternators and larger batteries, motorcycles maintain steady voltage, just like cars, so they add circuitry to intentionally vary the headlight intensity.)
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