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Rear facing safety lights. Red or White ?

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Rear facing safety lights. Red or White ?

Old 10-17-20, 08:30 AM
  #1  
preventec47
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Rear facing safety lights. Red or White ?

The obvious answer would seem at first glance to be to use red as a tail light but I have noticed that for any given choice of lights, that for a given run time until battery discharge that the white "supposedly" head lights have about triple the amount of lumens as the red lights. Therefore I think a rear facing "white" light would be way more visible than the much dimmer red light. The lights I normally use have two or three triple A batteries and attach with rubber straps.
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Old 10-17-20, 08:32 AM
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Every vehicle using the road has white front, red rear. Please don't be that person. Put some blinking red rear, or tape red gel over the rear facing white lights.
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Old 10-17-20, 08:34 AM
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Use only red in the back.
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Old 10-17-20, 08:43 AM
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Red... just get a good one. I have a Bontrager Flare R and it's VERY bright.. even during a sunny day.


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Old 10-17-20, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Every vehicle using the road has white front, red rear. Please don't be that person. Put some blinking red rear, or tape red gel over the rear facing white lights.
Go red for Rear Lights
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Old 10-17-20, 08:56 AM
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White light in the back would can potentially confuse other motorists or cyclists on the road, so it's a safety risk

I often see many use white, even lights in other colors like blue and purple in the back. It kinda looks cool maybe why they do it, but please, safety first before bling.
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Old 10-17-20, 09:02 AM
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Why would we want our tail light to be a blinding bright white like the headlight? That's asking to get run over.

The red reflector/filter is always going to drop the intensity some. You can get lights with red LED's instead, but that's almost pointless. The standard kinds of red binkies, in use on the vast majority of bikes, are as visible and noticeable as we need.
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Old 10-17-20, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by preventec47 View Post
The obvious answer would seem at first glance to be to use red as a tail light but I have noticed that for any given choice of lights, that for a given run time until battery discharge that the white "supposedly" head lights have about triple the amount of lumens as the red lights. Therefore I think a rear facing "white" light would be way more visible than the much dimmer red light. The lights I normally use have two or three triple A batteries and attach with rubber straps.
Because a bright white headlight is so you can see the road ahead of you (as well as be seen by others). A red tail light is used only so others can see you. Not to mention the fact that white in front and red in back indicates your direction of travel to other traffic.

Now if bikes had a reverse gear like cars, I could see having a bright white reverse light on a bike. Not many folks ride their bikes backwards, though.
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Old 10-17-20, 10:37 AM
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Always use red on the back. DO NOT use flashing lights at the front (unless you are in an emergency) and I like a nice solid light at the back as well if I can swing it or something with a reasonable flash that isn't to damaging.

There are plenty of really bright rear lights from Light and Motion, Knog, Dinotte, NiteRider... just find one you like and use it. Please don't be the person who is going against the grain and putting other lives in danger because they feel it makes their own safer.

If you are worried about being seen, make sure your lights are on the bike pointing in the right direction and are nice and bright red lights , have a good beamed front light as well and take your lane. If you feel the need, have an extra light or two on the bike in a good visible position then once your bike is well light then you can start looking at other options for hHelmets and things like that (though keep in mind a helmet light is really best for you to see and that is the primary function)
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Old 10-17-20, 11:02 AM
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Red light rear facing.

It doesn’t need to be thousands of lumens either, that is likely to be more disorienting to drivers than normal brightness. This is why folks plow into emergency vehicles with bright flashing lights. Have you ever seen drivers that have replaced their tail lights with super bright LEDs? It’s actually super distracting.

Also, anyone showing up to a group ride with a super bright white light rear-facing light I will beat to a pulp with my skinny little cyclists arms.
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Old 10-17-20, 11:26 AM
  #11  
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OK, you want to be noticed from behind.

It isnít just the brightness of one light. Position is important.

In addition to one or more red LED on the bike day and night, I have a bright red LED on the back of my helmet that I can turn on and off while riding. (It is a discontinued Serfas.)

I only use it at times. At night, on busy high speed road, I will have it on flashing. Less busy, I only turn it on when I see a reasonable threat approaching in my mirror.

During the day, if Iím on a shoulder and have to take the lane Iíll light up. If I see something skanky developing behind me Iíll also light up the helmet rear.

The height helps make the light more visible to drivers following the vehicle directly behind me. I canít prove it, but I think adding a bright red suddenly changes the visual field and attracts attention.

Thatís my practice, FWIW.

Last edited by flangehead; 10-17-20 at 11:28 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old 10-17-20, 11:40 AM
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https://www.nps.gov/natr/planyourvis...visibility.htm
  • "Bicyclists will frequently be riding in mixed sun and shade. Use a flashing white light on the back of your bike during the day."
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Old 10-17-20, 11:41 AM
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Red or Orange for rear. Blinking pattern.
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Old 10-17-20, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite View Post
https://www.nps.gov/natr/planyourvis...visibility.htm
  • "Bicyclists will frequently be riding in mixed sun and shade. Use a flashing white light on the back of your bike during the day."
Isn't that illegal? I think Federal laws say only red on the rear?
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Old 10-17-20, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
Isn't that illegal? I think Federal laws say only red on the rear?
Illegal in Most Sates.
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Old 10-17-20, 11:56 AM
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Maybe not illegal on some NPS roads during daytime.

Last edited by BikeLite; 10-18-20 at 02:52 AM.
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Old 10-17-20, 12:00 PM
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I have a red one on the back and a white one on the front. They blink. Highly visible. And there is nothing worse than some idiot riding the wrong way on my side of the street and his white front light causing glare in my vision. Don't be that guy.
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Old 10-17-20, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
DO NOT use flashing lights at the front (unless you are in an emergency)
Yes, for the sake of your fellow riders no strobe lights at the front!
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Old 10-17-20, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite View Post
https://www.nps.gov/natr/planyourvis...visibility.htm
  • "Bicyclists will frequently be riding in mixed sun and shade. Use a flashing white light on the back of your bike during the day."
That is completely nuts. Plenty of bright flashing red lights are available.
(May only be applicable to NPS/Natchez Trace Parkway.)
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Old 10-17-20, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
I think Federal laws say only red on the rear.
There are federal laws on bike road use?

I know my own state law calls for red blinking in the rear and white in front after dark.
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Old 10-17-20, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
There are federal laws on bike road use?

I know my own state law calls for red blinking in the rear and white in front after dark.
Yup. Do a search. Wikipedia has a whole section on it of Federal laws including riding on the shoulder unless impractical. Then there are requirements on all new bikes sold in the US must have a clear front reflector and red on the back, plus clear wheel reflectors by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. They do not specifically call out red lights on the rear and white on the front and doubt you will be cited by law enforcement but it’s not much of a stretch from what color reflectors go where. However lessening the confusion of drivers who have the paradigm that all moving vehicles have red lights in back coupled with the riders already tenuous safety should be the primary driver. Why contribute to their confusion when there’s more than enough drivers who should have their licenses pulled?

in the future try doing an internet search, since you are already on it.
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Old 10-17-20, 09:42 PM
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I saw my first cyclist with a rear facing white light a few nights ago. From a distance and as I approached I couldn't tell whether it was a salmon coming toward me in the right lane, or a very slow moving cyclist moving with traffic, but with a rear facing white light for some reason.

Gotta admit, it was much more disorienting than I'd expected.

He was riding so slowly I couldn't tell until I passed him which direction he was going. I was trying for a PR on a mile long slight uphill grade of around 2%, riding around 20-25 mph (I ain't fast, the KOM is around 30 mph but with a tailwind). So I was traveling a bit slower than most vehicle traffic on that road. I can see how disorienting it would have been for a driver.

Yup, he was on the right side of the road. But couldn't have been traveling more than walking pace, 3-5 mph tops. No problem, it's not a race. But the slowness added to the confusion.

The guy was also wearing some reflective clothing -- maybe a hi-viz yellow vest with grayish-white reflective stripes. But the rear facing white light defeated the purpose -- it was blinding me so I couldn't even see his reflective stripes until I passed him.

It confirmed my reasons for almost always using two or more sets of head and tail lights. At a minimum, if I anticipate being out near dark, I have at least one head and tail light on the bike, and another set on my helmet (small lightweight Blackburn 2'Fers). Even on most road bike rides, unless I'm aiming for PRs and wearing my aero helmet that doesn't have vents for mounting lights.

The main advantage to two or more lights is it enables others to quickly evaluate our direction, orientation and speed. I've had drivers slow and comment favorably that the combination of bike and helmet lights makes it much easier for them to approach and pass safely.
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Old 10-17-20, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
It confirmed my reasons for almost always using two or more sets of head and tail lights. At a minimum, if I anticipate being out near dark, I have at least one head and tail light on the bike, and another set on my helmet (small lightweight Blackburn 2'Fers). ....
The main advantage to two or more lights is it enables others to quickly evaluate our direction, orientation and speed. I've had drivers slow and comment favorably that the combination of bike and helmet lights makes it much easier for them to approach and pass safely.
Most states specify a white light out front and a red in the back Most states specify how far away the lights must be visible. Research "Uniform Traffic Code" for your state.

As @canklecat notes, besides being illegal, having a rear-facing whiter light is confusing.

If you really want to be seen, attach a light to your left shoe, ankle, or pedal. Studies have shown that drivers most swiftly identify a light as a cyclist when the left pedal is lit. I assume this is because nothing else creates the pattern of motion of a pedal reflector or light.

if you ride much at night, you have come across vehicles with those blue-light searing laser headlights----worst of all on pick-ups or SUVs because they are mounter closer to eye level. And if you ride much at night you know how those ridiculous headlights eliminate all detail and provide only black/white contrast---you cannot see anything in the light because it is too bright, and cannot see anything outside of the light because it is too dark.

if you have met these lights, you have probably learned to focus on the edge of the road right near your front wheel, to have the least amount of light getting into your eyes. This massively compromises safety because you can only see a few feet ahead---not enough time to react to a serious obstacle. However, if you look up or forward, you wont be able to see anything and won't know if you are about to ride off the road on the right or into the oncoming lane on the left.

Now ask yourself---do you want a car coming up behind you to be that blind? Sure you can blast 750 candlepower right into drivers' eyes---do you want blinded drivers trying to pass you?

Your call.
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Old 10-18-20, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Yup. Do a search. Wikipedia has a whole section on it of Federal laws including riding on the shoulder unless impractical.
Care to point me in the right direction? I couldn't find federal law pertaining to bicycle road use in states (besides national parks).

Then there are requirements on all new bikes sold in the US must have...
Sorry, not what I asked. Most here know about federal consumer protection.

in the future try doing an internet search, since you are already on it.
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Old 10-18-20, 06:20 AM
  #25  
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Not only should you not put a white light on the rear, you DO NOT need a high lumen rear light. 20 lumen is plenty for a rear tail light. I like the Planet Bike grateful red. Use two of those if you are really paranoid.

I've decided to fight back against ding dongs with their strobing headlights on the MUP. I bought a 2500 lumen strobing flashlight at Costco. Has a lens to focus the beam into a tight pattern. Going to point that right at mr disco coming the other way than politely ask them to turn there strobe off when we pass.
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