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Light to be seen? Color suggestions?

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Light to be seen? Color suggestions?

Old 09-15-12, 10:35 PM
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Blinkie
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Light to be seen? Color suggestions?

How bright does a light on a bicycle need to be, for you to be confident motorists can safely see you?

I'm considering a couple side-visibility ideas, and having some sort of active light source seems like a good idea to me. I'm thinking something with a diffuser, to make the area larger without being glaring to people (and increase light area, making me a little more visible).

Also, would something like this be better with a particular color (such as red or amber, as many motor vehicle marker lights -- omitting blue since a good number of jurisdictions frown upon blue lights for anything but a police vehicle), or is being visible the higher priority?
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Old 09-15-12, 10:41 PM
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I'd opt for amber myself. It's legal front and/or rear, visible in daylight (depending on power), and does mark you as a vehicle of some kind.
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Old 09-16-12, 12:20 AM
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This is sort of what I'm thinking. It would be something like an egg sac on a fish, hanging on the top tube, or perhaps mounted atop the down tube as a visible location from the side, with only one light source. Basically, I'm thinking one intense enough light shining on a pair of reflectors, and into domed diffusers. Domed plastic won't be too difficult to find for me, and a bit of translucent paint is the next easy step.

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Old 09-16-12, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Blinkie View Post
How bright does a light on a bicycle need to be, for you to be confident motorists can safely see you?
How bright? I'm certain that you could rival a supernova, and a motorist will claim that they were paying attention and still couldn't see you. In daylight only the new 250+ lumen lights seem to be adequate to me. At night starting at about 40 lumens things start to improve (depending on environmental conditions, dry/wet, rural/urban/Tokyo/Vegas). Generally speaking, the brighter, the better (optional light settings for battery life - Best).

Originally Posted by Blinkie View Post
I'm considering a couple side-visibility ideas, and having some sort of active light source seems like a good idea to me. I'm thinking something with a diffuser, to make the area larger without being glaring to people (and increase light area, making me a little more visible).

Also, would something like this be better with a particular color (such as red or amber, as many motor vehicle marker lights -- omitting blue since a good number of jurisdictions frown upon blue lights for anything but a police vehicle), or is being visible the higher priority?
To my knowledge, Amber is the only truly legal color for non-emergency vehicles. That said, I've made my own lights for side visibility (blue, green, red, and purple) and never got any flack from cops (actually got off of a ticket once, while using blue). I've used the Ice Blue DownLowGlow from rockthebike.com, and paid attention to their website over the years. I've yet to hear about someone using an "illegal" color getting pinched.

Wish I could show you more, but my Flickr Pro account expired, and I've got $0 (unemployed 3 years).

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Old 09-16-12, 03:00 PM
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Apparently amber is more visable during the day and white gives much better visibility AND depth perception at night. And apparently it also takes a lot less light to be seen than it does to see clearly enough to drive by. It would be nice to get all that in one package but the way LEDs work - its not as simple as just sticking an amber lens over a white LED for daytime use. So you can either choose to run two sets of lights, or just run a white flashing daytime light like most people do.
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Old 09-16-12, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
Apparently amber is more visable during the day and white gives much better visibility AND depth perception at night. And apparently it also takes a lot less light to be seen than it does to see clearly enough to drive by. It would be nice to get all that in one package but the way LEDs work - its not as simple as just sticking an amber lens over a white LED for daytime use. So you can either choose to run two sets of lights, or just run a white flashing daytime light like most people do.
I should have clarified better, that my intent is something in addition to an eventual lighting set-up with both front and rear lights.

If I move to where I think I will, my concern is that Atlanta isn't the most bike-friendly area and I'll be crossing about 15 intersections (some much more busy than others) on my hopefully daily commute. While I plan to use reflective tape on the frame to my advantage, I am considering something a bit more active than just depending on headlights and drivers' eyes being at just the right angles. There are plenty of vehicles these days (such as SUVs) whose drivers, sitting high up, choose to run fog lamps at the bottoms of their bumpers in the evenings and in fog in lieu of headlights.

But again, an addition to decent head and tail lights.
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Old 09-16-12, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Blinkie View Post
I should have clarified better, that my intent is something in addition to an eventual lighting set-up with both front and rear lights.

If I move to where I think I will, my concern is that Atlanta isn't the most bike-friendly area and I'll be crossing about 15 intersections (some much more busy than others) on my hopefully daily commute. While I plan to use reflective tape on the frame to my advantage, I am considering something a bit more active than just depending on headlights and drivers' eyes being at just the right angles. There are plenty of vehicles these days (such as SUVs) whose drivers, sitting high up, choose to run fog lamps at the bottoms of their bumpers in the evenings and in fog in lieu of headlights.

But again, an addition to decent head and tail lights.
Depending on your local laws, running fog lamps in non-fog conditions is a no-no.

You could use something like the Down Low Glow or Bike Brightz to give you a puddle of light around your bike. Revolights might be of interest as well. You could also use a couple of the Serfas Thunderbolts- white on the fork (maybe one for each leg pointed off axis?) and red mounted to the underside of the chainstay.
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Old 09-17-12, 06:03 AM
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How bright does a light on a bicycle need to be, for you to be confident motorists can safely see you?
That probably depends on the situation - my biggest "near miss" was while i was crossing an interstate highway on an overpass. When i got across, a truck coming up an exit ramp completely ignored me and nearly sideswiped me. So I can see the need for "side" lighting.

I think most of what you need to do - to be seen from any direction - (in my case) is handled by using a helmet light that you can point directly at your particular motorist or obstacle. "light 'em up" or else assume they do not see you.

However, I also believe that you can get great visibility by mounting powerful white "blinky" lights - and aiming back at the midsection of yourself - or if bright enough - down at the ground under the bike. I've done all these things and felt they really "caught" motorist's eye.

I don't think any sort of reflector or diffuser is too great of an idea - unless you are the one "wearing the light."
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Old 09-17-12, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Blinkie View Post
How bright does a light on a bicycle need to be, for you to be confident motorists can safely see you?
In order to make sure that a car does not hit you because they didn't see you, your light needs to be bright enough to incinerate the car from a distance. Anything that still leaves the car moving still leaves a chance that they "didn't see you."

Seriously, the one time I got hit I was wearing ANSI reflective gear and running a 700 lumen front light on rapid flash at a T junction with 500 feet of totally unobstructed view in all directions.

The guy lives right off that road, and he drives that route 300 days a year, and just gets on autopilot and doesn't actually see anything, certainly not something that he doesn't see every day.

There are people who are paying attention and people who are not. Those who are will see you if you are reasonably well lit. Those who are not will not see you unless you're driving a car, period, and possibly not even then - there are incidents every day where car drivers zone out and smash straight into the back of another car in broad daylight.

I now just go for two lights up front of 200 to 400 lumens each, and two good rear lights (I'm using a MagicShine main tail light and a Cygolite Hotshot on the helmet), and just look out for myself.

Trying to use "more light" to "make" people see you if they aren't paying attention to the road is a losing game. Every time you double the light you probably only get another few percent of the zoned out people to wake up enough to see you.
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Old 09-17-12, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
In order to make sure that a car does not hit you because they didn't see you, your light needs to be bright enough to incinerate the car from a distance. Anything that still leaves the car moving still leaves a chance that they "didn't see you."

Seriously, the one time I got hit I was wearing ANSI reflective gear and running a 700 lumen front light on rapid flash at a T junction with 500 feet of totally unobstructed view in all directions.

The guy lives right off that road, and he drives that route 300 days a year, and just gets on autopilot and doesn't actually see anything, certainly not something that he doesn't see every day.

There are people who are paying attention and people who are not. Those who are will see you if you are reasonably well lit. Those who are not will not see you unless you're driving a car, period, and possibly not even then - there are incidents every day where car drivers zone out and smash straight into the back of another car in broad daylight.

I now just go for two lights up front of 200 to 400 lumens each, and two good rear lights (I'm using a MagicShine main tail light and a Cygolite Hotshot on the helmet), and just look out for myself.

Trying to use "more light" to "make" people see you if they aren't paying attention to the road is a losing game. Every time you double the light you probably only get another few percent of the zoned out people to wake up enough to see you.
I knew that question was a bit loaded! lol I just want to feel more visible in darker hours.

As to the automatic-behavioral drivers, I'm quite aware. I've seen these things my whole life, and I know I'll be driving through some areas where people are habitual actors rather than active thinkers.

I was looking at a local big box store today just to see what they had (I usually laugh at all the huge pillow-like saddles almost as wide as my hips) and I noticed some light-up strands for fairly cheap. I'm considering a set or two of those (maybe some battery rigging to use one power pack if I install more than one), to wrap around some K'tesh-like reflective tape-covered tubes for just that additional edge when I feel I need it.
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