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Headlight/Tail Light – Steady or Flash?

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Headlight/Tail Light – Steady or Flash?

Old 01-17-21, 04:29 PM
  #51  
vane171
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Steady light in front and back but if I get caught in bad weather conditions, rain, fog, I switch on flash in the back.

Flashing front only makes sense if you ride on busy two lane road where cars will overtake against you - in which case, you should keep close to road side because you can't count on drivers seeing you anyway even with your bike front light flashing. Basically, in poor visibility conditions, you should ride your bike defensively as if you were invisible to car drivers, which means you don't really need the front light, except if its so dark that you need to see where the side of the road is. But such riding is only for commuters who often have no choice, makes no sense for sport riding to go out in poor visibility conditions, never mind dark.

Flashing both sides makes sense for commuters on busy downtown city streets where you have all kinds of lights around in the evening and you need to call attention to yourself.

Last edited by vane171; 01-17-21 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 01-17-21, 04:35 PM
  #52  
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I ride in the suburbs of Long Island so both are flashing since they draw attention.
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Old 01-17-21, 05:51 PM
  #53  
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I don't mind pulsing lights, but strobe on the front seriously bothers my vision.
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Old 01-17-21, 07:22 PM
  #54  
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Rear, always flashing.

Front, flashing day and steady at night.
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Old 01-17-21, 08:31 PM
  #55  
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I was driving home and came up on a rider with a solid rear light, dark clothing & and minimal reflective surfaces. I think a blinking light would have made him more visible.

For regular riding at night, wear clothing that's reflective also.
On my commuter bike, I put reflective tape on the crankarms
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Old 01-17-21, 08:52 PM
  #56  
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Why do we always have to "guess" at what drivers can or cannot see? I am a driver as well as a rider so I default to what I would find most visible. It's not rocket surgery.

Flashing rear, Flashing front.

I find the argument against flashing front always presumes the light is aimed at the drivers eyes. Mine is not. It is aimed down, so the light illuminates the ground directly ahead of me. This creates a large illuminated circle for drivers to see while at the same time not blinding them. assuming the light is pointed into drivers eyes is like assuming car headlights are always used on high beam. Occasionally someone does that but its not how they are used in general.

Bicycle lights are not the same as car lights. We don't have brake lights that intensify (well a few have fancy ones I suppose). We don't have turn signals and we don't have back up lights. That argument doesn't hold water. However, whenever a stationary or slow moving object or vehicle doesn't want to be hit it uses a flashing light. Construction barriers, snow plows, maintenance vehicles. Must be something to that.

Today, for the first time, I saw a rider on a dirt trail with a solid bright headlight aimed directly ahead - in my eyes. That WAS annoying, and a little odd, as it illuminated nothing but air.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 01-17-21 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 01-18-21, 12:38 PM
  #57  
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Many auto drivers do not expect flashing bike lights.

The first time that I saw a flashing bike, the bike was a bike/walking path. It startled me because I thought it was a motorcycle on the wrong side of the road coming towards me. As the bike came closer, I realized that it was a bike. My guess is most auto drivers do not realize that bikes have such bright flashing light. It definitely had my attention.
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Old 01-18-21, 12:52 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by UCantTouchThis View Post
What I don't understand is the group of 3 riders on a trail with the obnoxious strobes blinding everyone that passes in the opposite direction. Even with one strobe, I have to turn my head a bit and I bet they're on a forum whining, WHY DON'T OTHER RIDERS WAVE AT ME!?
They are not only waving, they are giving them the one finger salute!
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Old 01-18-21, 12:58 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
The last I looked a flashing front light for motorcycles was illegal in CT. I don't know if that also applies to bicycles but it seems it would. Does anyone know?
Federal Motor Vehicle Code makes it legal in all fifty states, for motorcycles to have modulating headlights.
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Old 01-18-21, 01:12 PM
  #60  
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I generally don't ride when it is dark or even dusk so about 95% of my riding is during daylight hours. I use a solid white front light but on the low setting. Not sure how many lumens but it's not a lot. My rear red strobe is one of those long narrow type that I attach to the seat post. I always have it on flashing.
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Old 01-18-21, 01:30 PM
  #61  
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For the purpose of giving all vehicles (including the ones being guided somewhat between the lines by someone who’s mostly texting, but occasionally glancing up at the road) behind me the full benefits of depth perception, I have a semi-bright steady light at the bottom of each seatstay, and a bright steady light right under my saddle.

Similarly, I have a pair of bright lights just inboard from my brake levers on each side of my handlebars.
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Old 01-18-21, 02:10 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
It shouldn't need to be said over and over but people still don't get it. If you are not an emergency vehicle going to an emergency please use a solid light at the front. Ideally at the rear as well but most especially always at the front. It is extremely dangerous to ride with a flashing light at the front, it dazzles and blinds people and then they cannot see and as a cyclist not being able to see because some jack hole felt the need to flash to make himself have the illusion of more safety while hurting others is just not helpful. Cars don't have flashing lights, motorcycles and scooters don't have flashing lights. Why must we do it?
err....perhaps because we aren't able to run lights of the same intensity/beam pattern as cars/motorcycles. Gimme a lamp that performs the same as a car headlamp (without the need for a 5 kg battery pack) and Ill happily not use my strobing front lamp.
At night, I also use a steady lamp........as I need to see where Im going 100% of the time.

Being on the far side of the road, my flashing front light isnt going to be too much of an annoyance to oncoming traffic, but hopefully will get the attention of those that are going to pull out from a side street to join the road Im on or to turn across it.(which Ive found does help)
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Old 01-18-21, 02:50 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by sacr View Post
Gimme a lamp that performs the same as a car headlamp (without the need for a 5 kg battery pack)
Serfas makes them. Cateye makes them. I’m certain there’s at least five other companies that make them. Look for 1100 lumens or more.

I have a pair of Serfas 1200’s that last a bit over an hour on high at 0 degrees murican.

I’ve parked the bike with just one on low and walked up five blocks at the tail end of rush hour to see how much visibility they give as compared to a car- it’s a smidge less bright than one side of a common modern car’s low beam. One on medium is about as bright as a single modern Merc/BMW headlight. To light up wet pavement as much as a car requires both lights be on. They typically charge from near dead in under three hours. I would only give them my full stamp of approval if they were less fragile.

Perfect for city streets at dusk with a bunch of GOTTAGITHOMETOPEENOWWW drivers. Definitely overkill at 430am.

I’ve also got a Cateye Volt 800 and a L&M U1K that each are fine for early morning riding. Probably fine for riding between 930am and 230pm. I definitely get less people rushing to turn into me from the right with the two Serfas’ on full during RH than with those two lesser lights on full.
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Old 01-18-21, 03:29 PM
  #64  
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Flashing rear light.
I want upcoming drivers to see me.
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Old 01-18-21, 04:07 PM
  #65  
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Steady at night
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Old 01-18-21, 04:08 PM
  #66  
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Flashing during the day
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Old 01-18-21, 04:08 PM
  #67  
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Rear light flashing
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Old 01-19-21, 03:26 AM
  #68  
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Flashing front and rear, day and night.

I find that other cyclists with steady lights are hard to see against a complex urban environment, especially when there are vehicle lights.

I also wear day-glo/reflective anklets. The motion makes them 3x easier to see than reflective vests.
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Old 01-19-21, 07:03 AM
  #69  
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Bright daylight: front off, flashing rear.
Overcast, foggy, dusk, etc.: flashing front and rear.
Dark: steady front, flashing rear.
(steady rear if riding with someone close behind me).

Originally Posted by vane171 View Post
Basically, in poor visibility conditions, you should ride your bike defensively as if you were invisible to car drivers, which means you don't really need the front light, except if its so dark that you need to see where the side of the road is. But such riding is only for commuters who often have no choice, makes no sense for sport riding to go out in poor visibility conditions, never mind dark.
That would be true only if it was midsummer the whole year round, with 20 hours of daylight. For those who are working 9 to 5 and still want to get some rides done on weekdays during the winter, there is no choice, commuter or not.

And what about endurance rides that may take 24 hours or more?
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Old 01-19-21, 10:26 AM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
A

These observations were e not part of controlled test, with the same cyclist riding the same stretch of roads repeatedly at the same time of day ... but then, I am not presenting this as scientific evidence.
I wish there were some controlled experiments on this if it's even possible. I'd be interested in knowing flashing vs steady vs high vis clothing. I have never had trouble detecting any cyclist during daylight hours, even those that wear asphalt colored clothing. My belief is that with daylight lighting we are hoping to steal away the attention of a marginally engaged driver. So how that could be replicated in a controlled experiment is beyond me.
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Old 01-19-21, 05:16 PM
  #71  
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I have used a blinking/flashing rear light for over 25 years... I used to use a single D-cell USCG-approved Xenon strobe light, but now just use a 100 lum USB-rechargeable red blinky.

I used to use a steady front, but when someone pulled out in front of me < ~20' because he said he claimed he didn't see me (he was looking for a car-sized object on the 55mph State highway, and NOT a bicycle at early dawn light), I use BOTH a steady headlight AND a low-intensity white LED blinky in the front. The blinky does grab attention, but is not as obnoxious to drivers as a full-power blinking headlight.

So anyway, now I use a cheap Walmart/Schwinn button-cell white blinky in addition to my 300 lum LED steady headlight and a 100 lum red LED blinking taillight.
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Old 01-19-21, 06:40 PM
  #72  
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Front and rear flashing during the day.
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Old 01-19-21, 07:04 PM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
My belief is that with daylight lighting we are hoping to steal away the attention of a marginally engaged driver. So how that could be replicated in a controlled experiment is beyond me.
Distracting them to an extent that they run over an everyday pedestrian crossing the street who didn't have the same foresight to have blinky lights sewn into their clothing?
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Old 01-20-21, 12:49 AM
  #74  
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Depends. I use Cygolites -- Hotshots and Hotrods.

Midday: Intense, rapid flashing
Early/late day: alternating lower intensity flasing
Night: slow pulse, no strobing
Group rides: steady, dimmest setting

I usually run two or more head and taillights -- at a minimum, a head and tail light on the bike, and on my helmet for night rides. My impression is that at night multiple lights are more effective than sheer brightness or strobing in giving drivers a quick way to estimate our orientation -- distance, direction, speed. Our binocular vision is pretty good at estimating these things with two or more steady light sources.
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Old 01-22-21, 12:31 PM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
The issue is flashing lights.
It's quite simple to me. I'm on a 28 pound bike amongst vehicles ranging from 4,000 to over 40,000 pounds. Many of them are distracted AF. Cyclists need an advantage. The same reason emergency vehicles, that I drove for 15 years in the fire dept, need that same advantage. Nobody's gonna move over for that cop or ambulance without flashing lights and attention grabbing. And with the hatred towards many road cyclists, this flash adds a little more of a safety cushion. Yet I fully agree to point those retina melters downward and to the right. One thing I know for sure, when I approach an intersection with cars turning left in front of me, they see my daytime Cygolite flashing, and for a brief second we connect and it seems to work most of the time.
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