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Thread: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* zespectre's Avatar
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    Default "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I never thought this would be a topic I felt like addressing but in a way I suppose it is a compliment to the advances in technology.

    I am GLAD to see cyclists (especially bicycle commuters) using active lighting on their rides, especially as it starts gets dark earlier. Reflectors are better than nothing but don't hold a candle to having blinking red light(s) on the rear, some sort of side markers (I love the wheel spoke lights) and white lights on the front. However, we do seem to have crossed a threshold of sorts wherein the handlebar and head mounted lights some cyclists are using are WELL into, or past, automobile headlight territory in terms of lumen output.

    I have been dazzled by a few cyclists recently but there is one bike-guy in particular who has this 5 LED monster light on his bike (it's got to be Cree based) that is aimed pretty-much dead level with a seated driver. I don't want to blow this out of proportion but after our third encounter I feel like it might be time to have some discussion about "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists.

    The owner of one of the local bike shops chuckled at first, but has agreed that it could be a good topic at their monthly club meeting but I wanted to throw out my ideas (and get your input) before I try to put together my talking points.

    My thoughts right now;
    • I want to address this as a safety issue, I don't want to be a jerk about it.
    • My main focus regarding etiquette is on the white, high powered, front facing lights.
    • I wanted to make the distinction between "lights to see with" (constant on) and "lights to be seen" (strobes/flashers)
    • I would like to work towards an agreement that the white, front facing, strobes/flashers should be fairly limited in power and be "flood style" not an aimed beam as it seems like the powerful, aimed beam, strobes are especially distracting to drivers (or at least they are to me).
    • I would like to ask cyclists to make sure their powerful front lights are properly aimed so as to avoid blinding drivers (or other cyclists).
    • I'm not sure how to address headlamps (worn on the head). I completely understand why a cyclist would use them, but they seem to be the WORST offenders for blinding others so I would welcome some ideas.


    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Ze
    "Notorious collector of things that glow, shine, or blink"
    CPF # 9435

  2. #2

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I have a light that is multi-mode. When riding in traffic I need to keep it on the lower setting. I like to blast the darkness when there is no one around, like on our cities' canal lanes. I did this test, I put the bike against a wall, and walked half a block away to see how it would look to drivers. It was then that I decided to run low mode, or aim it down lower - or both.

    I want drivers to see me, not get upset with me...

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* zespectre's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Your consideration is certainly appreciated!
    "Notorious collector of things that glow, shine, or blink"
    CPF # 9435

  4. #4

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    The regulation in this part of the world is that you must have a steady white light that is visible at 200m. The rear has to be red, either steady or flashing and mush be visible at 100m. The problem seems to be that the regulations are not enforced very well.

    Personally, I hate all flashing lights on bikes as I feel I cannot judge the distance to them very well and they can be distracting. Some parts of the world, you aren't allowed to have flashing lights, and you need the front light to have a cut-off like in cars.

  5. #5

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Quote Originally Posted by zespectre View Post
    I would like to work towards an agreement that the white, front facing, strobes/flashers should be fairly limited in power and be "flood style" not an aimed beam as it seems like the powerful, aimed beam, strobes are especially distracting to drivers (or at least they are to me)
    +1

    I think the same applies to cars broken down on the side of the road. Yes, you want to be safe changing a tire but don't do it at the expense of EVERY other driver's vision. It's TOO distracting and can simply make the situation worse.

    For cycling, a soft red blinking light in back and fixed white flood in front pointed fairly low works fine. If one wishes to go further, a reflective vest helps. Beyond that, I can only recommend a padded room.
    GOOD TINT!

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* Nyctophiliac's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I have been a regular city cyclist for about ten years now. I don't commute, but I do leisure and exercise rides everyday, both day and night.

    The biggest problem with motor vehicles is that unless they see you, they ignore you. This means Hi-Viz jackets by day and reflectors and lights by night.

    About forty percent of other cyclists seem to have lights at night, the rest are destined to have trouble at some point. For me the flashies are very useful front and back and I have both, I also have a headlight on my helmet.

    I use a Fenix HP11, it has very powerful options and a good flashy mode as well.

    So when I off road (Parks and canals) the high mode is very good, and in traffic I opt either for the flash - or mode two.

    There is a good visibility all round to onlookers and if there is a vehicle about to come out on top of me I tend to direct the beam at the driver for a moment. This get's you noticed and shouldn't dazzle the driver or incapacitate in any way.

    London Taxi drivers are a vocal lot, but at traffic light junctions (stop lights?) next to me I have had only praise about the headlight, I think they are glad that someone is taking there own safety seriously.

    In brief, my chosen routine is, flashies front and rear of the bike, pointable more powerful light on the helmet.

    Ride safely!

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* bshanahan14rulz's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Haven't come across any excessively bright AND misaimed lights on bikes yet. Usually I'm only blinded by cop lights. They're worse than the worst HID kit.

    I do believe that when bike lights start reaching car headlight output levels, that there ought to be some regulations put forth as to how high they can be aimed, how much light can be used for bike visibility, etc.

    I can put a line of 10 50W HIDs on the front of my car, and will be the safest car ever. Until I introduce it into an environment where my safety relies on other people's ability to see clearly too.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    For the US, we need a beam & cutoff-like the StVZO spec but better, not just a flashlight firing forward and slightly downward. Something reflex based so you don't get the point source glare from the LED, like Philips SafeRide, and the like.
    Blinking/flashing lights are for stationary objects. They never belong on the front, and should only be used on the rear if you are fixing a flat, etc.
    High quality retro-reflective tape is cheap online; identi-tape is my favorite.

    To the matter of conspicuity, seeing as automotive universe is migrating to LEDs, and the higher CCT than standard HID, bicycles have nowhere to go but lower, maybe selective-yellow filtration of warm-white or PC amber for forward lighting.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Where I live, it is not uncommon to see a bicyclist riding the wrong way down the middle of a one way street, or the wrong side of a two way street, at night with no light, minimal or no reflectors, and dark clothing. I would be happy if they would obey the normal traffic laws as well as use lights.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I think you're going about this in the right way, education is the best way to solve this. I'm not sure if people running obnoxious lights realise what they are doing or if they are under the impression that more light = more visibility (which I'd have to say is partially right, but not from ONE front light kicking out 1000's of lumens...) or if they're just doing it to wind others up.

    Personally, I'm more irritated by ninja cyclists with no lights and dark clothing as I seem to come across them more often than people with excessively bright lights.

    If I came across someone cycling towards me with anti-social amounts of lumens (and conditions were safe to do so), I'd just give them a short blip with my high beams as a "you're blinding me here mate" message, the same as I would any prat driving around with their full beams on. Sometimes these people aren't aware of what they are doing, sometimes they're just being, for want of a stronger word, annoying.

    It's interesting you mention headlamps are the worst, do they look like off-road type helmet lights? I've proped my bike up and had a look at it head-on to see what effect I'm having on on-coming road users, but this obviously isn't very practical for my headlamp.

    What I'm trying to say in a long winded fasion is that a little bit of common sense and some courtesy go a long way.

    For info: When I'm riding here in the UK (road/city), I'll usually have the Zebralight SC600 or Fenix LD20 on medium on the bars and Zebralight H51c on med on the helmet. Back lights consist of a flashing, self adhesive, CR2032 powered 5mm LED thing on the helmet; one standard rear bike light on constant and another one flashing on the seat-post.

  11. #11

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Quote Originally Posted by BillSWPA View Post
    Where I live, it is not uncommon to see a bicyclist riding the wrong way down the middle of a one way street, or the wrong side of a two way street, at night with no light, minimal or no reflectors, and dark clothing. I would be happy if they would obey the normal traffic laws as well as use lights.
    Same here. And they're probably the reason for a stereotype and why I sometimes get flipped off or picked on even though I'm doing everything right.

    On another note, I wonder about the possible implications of using two lights or a torch + headlamp combo. I remember when I bought my Yamaha R6 in 2004, they designed only one of the headlamps to run which I thought looked stupid. I could be totally wrong, but I think the reason was that the two lights on the motorcycle could look like a cars lights as if the car was much farther away. So another car could turn in front of the motorcycle 100' away thinking it was a car 900' away. Personally, I don't buy it, but I wonder if this same theory could apply to a bicycle with multiple lights?
    GOOD TINT!

  12. #12

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Lights that "aren't expectable" is what I try for.

    I've ridden at night for half a century, including police bike patrol. I also ride a horse at night, the concepts are similar, to me.

    Motorists, particularly in the city, see a gazillion points of light while they're driving down the street, texting, yacking on the cellphone, changing the DVD for their kids in the back seat and all that other distracting stuff. Out of their direct or peripheral vision they see porch lights, lawn and garden lights, street lights, business sign lights, other cars head/tail/side marker lights. Motorists EXPECT to see red lights in front of them going the same direction and they EXPECT to see white lights in front of them going the opposite direction. If they're in the far RIGHT lane, they don't expect to see any vehicles on their right. A tiny light (my bike) on their right doesn't register as something to look out for. It registers as "oh someone's mailbox reflector" or whatever. It doesn't register as something moving.

    So...I try and make my lighting something that their subconscious and distracted motorist brain will see and say "Hey, this isn't a car or a porch light, pay just a little more attention to it".

    With that in mind, I use lights that MOVE. Ever see a policeman several blocks ahead waving his flashlight from side to side? That grabs your attention a lot more than if that light were sitting still, regardless of color or brightness. So on my bike I have 1 constant white facing front to illuminate, one constant red rear to satisfy the ordinances, then I have a velcro strap on leg light with low output white front/red rear. It goes on my LEFT (traffic side) calf. As I pedal, it moves up and down...it's UNEXPECTABLE.

    One big problem with any kind of bike light, especially like mine mounted low on my leg, is that it is likely to be out of the field of vision for lots of drivers. With a horse, it's not a factor. Lights on my calf are ABOVE or at least LEVEL WITH the windshield of nearly every vehicle. On my cop bike I had tiny red LED clusters on the rear of my helmet. Drivers could see those. They'd never blind anyone. I never wore one but I always thought a white headlight would be a great thing. It allows you to flash a light in the direction of pending danger.

    Outlining the rider and bicycle with that neon glow stuff would look kind of goofy but might be the ideal kind of approach. It's probably a little too pimp for most serious riders. But we can move toward the same effect by using a couple of lights to "outline" our general shape. Helmet, calf and bike seat/rack tail would do a pretty good job of that from the rear. Rear is the most dangerous side for a bike.


    Ride like NO motorist sees you. Never demand the right to share "their" asphalt. You'll lose. Bikes are NOT a danger to cars. We're not telling motorists to look out for THEIR safety. We're asking them to give up a little space for OUR safety.


    Sgt Lumpy

  13. #13
    Flashaholic mhanlen's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I guess I'll add my two cents too. Personally I agree with most in that, if you have a high intensity front light, please aim it downward a bit. Lights are key when riding alongside or in traffic- and I don't even mind blinking front lights then (I don't prefer them, but whatever). As for rear lights, I think that blinking makes them the most visible.

    The issue I have with some of the cyclists lit up like Christmas trees, is on dedicated bicycle trails. Again, mixed in with vehicular traffic- just about anything goes (provided you're not lit up brighter than a car). Unless it's a very slow and steady blink (and then I still don't like them much), no blinkies are necessary on a trail ride. The worst are the near strobe lights that some cyclists use when driving on dedicated bicycle trails. Not only is it distracting, it's hurts your eyes, and causes momentary blindness when there isn't much ambient light around. A nice medium to low output front light, that's steady and aimed downward, is all that's necessary for trail riding. I think some people think that it makes them easier to see when riding on trails, but I think the opposite is true, because all I see after they pass is a bright blue light dead center in my vision.

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    Flashaholic* rayman's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Im a cyclist on my own and have a high-output bikelight. I built one myself which has a very floody beam so it would really blind the oncoming traffic alot that's why I made it to have an UI with a very low mode so I can switch on that when I'm in the city. Downtown and in places where you have alot of traffic you normally don't need to illuminate your way but you need to be seen and there's the very low mode for. It doesn't blind oncoming traffic but they recognise me as a cyclist.

    I really hate it when I see cyclists coming towards me at night with a blinding-bright light. They usually don't even know (or care) that they are blinding the other traffic thats why I really take care that I'm not one of them .

    rayman
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  15. #15

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Cyclists should first get informed what kind of lighting is legally required/allowed in their area for riding on public roads and cycling paths.

    Police here doesn't seem to be bothered, but I'm seeing too many "stealth riders" where I live, riding on poorly lit public roads/streets from first dusk well into the night without ANY lighting or reflective surfaces. This is one deadly sport, because they don't get noticed by drivers until it's too late. During my active cycling years (from early 90's up until 1-2 years ago) I've never seen other cyclist sporting more than 250 lumens of frontal lighting, and virtually none having a hand-held (tactical, whatever) flashlight on a bicycle mount, but I've been blinded dozens of times by incorrectly aimed front lights and flashers. I'm using a 450lm tactical flashlight as a front light, but it's pointing where it's supposed to and - very important - it's shaded and doesn't blind drivers/riders coming from the opposite direction.

    In a few words: run legal, be visible, more light is better but don't annoy or dazzle other road users.

    Cheers

  16. #16
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    Default "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I have my front light able to swivel up down and slightly left to right, empty paths it goes dead center, on the road it gets aimed down and on strobe.

    The last thing I care about is having a light as bright as a vehicle nor do I worry about anyone being blinded by being exposed to a few seconds of strobe.

    I like headlamps, a couple zip ties and no worries about losing it or losing its aim.

    I'm thinking of making a retro reflective pinwheel to mount behind my bike, guaranteed to spin and stand out and best is that the drivers will be doing the work of lighting it for me, maybe put a red blinker in the center of the pinwheel.

    I got the pinwheel idea from reflective ones my daughters picked out at the dollar store.


    Tapatalk

  17. #17

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    So many drivers have their headlights improperly aimed, I really don't worry about a few cyclists that use a bright floody light that may "blind" oncoming traffic. It's best to use a proper cycling light, but a flashlight isn't that bad compared to all the car lights.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Nyctophiliac's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    So to sum up:

    No one light solution is apparent. We (cyclists) need strong light on unlit roads and paths, but it must be aimed low or be shaded to reduce anti social glare for other road and path users, and lower light where we encounter other traffic. We also need lots of reflectors of various kinds front and back and even side mounted. We need non dazzl blinkers certainly on the rear and arguably on the front. Moving lights or reflectors are good (reflectors on pedals are my favourites).

    Be seen, be safe, be non-annoying or obstructive.

    And have fun.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    This thread has hit a particular sore spot with me as last night I had a very near miss:

    I was out after dark on the pedal bike riding up to a local viewpoint. The route requires a short section <1mile on a single carriageway road. It is not street lit, so requires a reasonably bright light on the front of the bike.

    Trying to take a balanced view, the main beam light I have is bright and has a wide spill. It would not look like a normal bike light, possibly appearing to be a motorbike. As I ride and wobble along, the beam will be moving about (just to try and give a complete picture). All the cars I pass have never flashed me or otherwise complained, and only once has one driver slowed slightly when passing which they may have done anyway. If the light were a problem, oncoming traffic would flash their lights and I would switch it down or off.

    So here I am riding along the road and a big transit van (the longer and taller type) is coming towards me at a good speed, about 50m in front of me it suddenly and purposefully swerved at me and missed me by inches. It almost doesn't seem real and I can't work out what happened. The driver did not flash me, or slow down, or shout anything out of the window, all he did was narrowly miss hitting me head-on, at speed. WHAT the BLEEP!!!!


    OK, so maybe I did annoy the driver, but trying to run me off the road and nearly hitting me head on is not the way to express there was a problem.

    I'm considering making a shade to shape the beam like a car beam is designed so nothing shines above a certain height, or just using a much weaker light when on the road including unlit roads. I do try to consider other people (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians), but also expect that if I do something accidentally that they tell me rather than try to kill me!
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  20. #20

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    OK, so maybe I did annoy the driver, but trying to run me off the road and nearly hitting me head on is not the way to express there was a problem.
    Subwoofer, looks like you were confronted with a typical exemplary of reckless, road rage-stricken, overreacting idiot, and that kind is abound these days.

    Even if your lighting annoyed him, there are other less dangerous ways to convey the message. Why didn't he flick the high beam for a moment instead of acting violently?

    Anyway, glad you're OK and here to share the story. Ride safely,

    Tam

  21. #21
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Over here (the Netherlands) where bikes are more numerous than cars I dont get blinded by bikes much (if at all). I'm far more annoyed by the cyclists I dont see especially with aforementioned dark clothing. I use a dynamo-fed Philips Saferide 60 (though maybe it's a 40 after repairs, it seems less bright than my first copy) myself and the superb rear light: Philips Lumiring. Since it's my thirds copy of the front light I'm actually looking for replacements but I see these big numbers (lumen-wise) on the likes of Fenix BT20/10 with dual beam and what-not, and I can't help but wonder how blinded people will get. I know you have to properly aim your headlight but there's so little info about the products. All the shops only promote the big numbers and seem to mostly disregard issues like "will it blind others?" "will you loose your night vision?". It's interesting to see that I'm not alone in this.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* zespectre's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Quote Originally Posted by tam17 View Post
    Subwoofer, looks like you were confronted with a typical exemplary of reckless, road rage-stricken, overreacting idiot, and that kind is abound these days.
    Tam
    Either that or a case of distracted driving. I can't tell you how many delivery trucks I've watched run off the road onto the shoulder and then jerk back onto the road because the driver was texting, or on the phone (to dispatch or the customer?) or fooling with the GPS or reading their routing sheet or whatever. Still, regardless of the cause I'm glad Subwoofer is okay!

    Anyway, back on the topic, I think I've found the insane light that Mr. Inconsiderate has been using which is a Niterider Pro 3000. If that isn't the light then it is very similar. According to the specs it does have multiple light levels. Now if I could just get this guy to use them <sigh>.
    "Notorious collector of things that glow, shine, or blink"
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  23. #23
    Flashaholic* RI Chevy's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I am a cyclist. I obey and abide by the same traffic laws that a motor vehicle obeys. I stop for red lights and stop signs, use hand signals, etc. I also make sure that my lights on my bicycle do not blind oncoming vehicles. It comes down to common courtesy. Simple as that.

  24. #24

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Quote Originally Posted by tam17 View Post
    Subwoofer, looks like you were confronted with a typical exemplary of reckless, road rage-stricken, overreacting idiot, and that kind is abound these days.
    Yes, there are plenty of drivers that simply hate cyclists on the road. I doubt it had anything to do with the light. He just hates cyclists, and will do anything he can to scare them off the road. Night provides a good, cowardly way for drivers to take shots at cyclists. Little other traffic to ID him, and license plate obscured by headlights.

    I'm less concerned about angry sociopaths that carry guns, than I am about angry sociopaths that own a car.

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* RCS1300's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Reality versus perception.

    I ride pre-dawn for several hours 4x/week. Here is my take.

    Overall, very good idea. First, find out what the collective local laws say about light beam strength for cars. Use that as a guide in making suggestions for cyclists. Also, regular car light beams are slightly pointed down and to the right. That should be the second suggestion.

    Edit add: The laws seem to talk about ensuring the head lights are aimed in such a way that they never directly hit the windshield of an oncoming vehicle. I found nothing regarding maximum brightness limits.

    Now, my rant. There are many drivers that believe that only children should be riding bicycles on the sidewalks. They believe that grown adults should not be riding bicycles and should not be riding in the streets where cars belong. I have come across some of these individuals in my 30 years of cycling over 150,000 miles. You will never appease these individuals as they believe that cyclists should not be on their streets and, of course, not be using lights that may impact their driving.
    Last edited by RCS1300; 09-19-2013 at 01:02 PM.

  26. #26

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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I've seen some bright lights on cyclists, but I find them no more intrusive then the xenon lights on more and more vehicles. A simple solution is to not stare at them. Keep your vision slightly to the right as you should do with a vehicle coming towards you with high beams on.
    Last edited by LGT; 09-19-2013 at 02:57 PM.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt Lumpy View Post
    Lights that "aren't expectable" is what I try for.


    I've ridden at night for half a century, including police bike patrol. I also ride a horse at night, the concepts are similar, to me.


    Motorists, particularly in the city, see a gazillion points of light while they're driving down the street, texting, yacking on the cellphone, changing the DVD for their kids in the back seat and all that other distracting stuff. Out of their direct or peripheral vision they see porch lights, lawn and garden lights, street lights, business sign lights, other cars head/tail/side marker lights. Motorists EXPECT to see red lights in front of them going the same direction and they EXPECT to see white lights in front of them going the opposite direction. If they're in the far RIGHT lane, they don't expect to see any vehicles on their right. A tiny light (my bike) on their right doesn't register as something to look out for. It registers as "oh someone's mailbox reflector" or whatever. It doesn't register as something moving.


    So...I try and make my lighting something that their subconscious and distracted motorist brain will see and say "Hey, this isn't a car or a porch light, pay just a little more attention to it".


    With that in mind, I use lights that MOVE. Ever see a policeman several blocks ahead waving his flashlight from side to side? That grabs your attention a lot more than if that light were sitting still, regardless of color or brightness. So on my bike I have 1 constant white facing front to illuminate, one constant red rear to satisfy the ordinances, then I have a velcro strap on leg light with low output white front/red rear. It goes on my LEFT (traffic side) calf. As I pedal, it moves up and down...it's UNEXPECTABLE.


    One big problem with any kind of bike light, especially like mine mounted low on my leg, is that it is likely to be out of the field of vision for lots of drivers. With a horse, it's not a factor. Lights on my calf are ABOVE or at least LEVEL WITH the windshield of nearly every vehicle. On my cop bike I had tiny red LED clusters on the rear of my helmet. Drivers could see those. They'd never blind anyone. I never wore one but I always thought a white headlight would be a great thing. It allows you to flash a light in the direction of pending danger.


    Ride like NO motorist sees you. Never demand the right to share "their" asphalt. You'll lose. Bikes are NOT a danger to cars. We're not telling motorists to look out for THEIR safety. We're asking them to give up a little space for OUR safety.




    Sgt Lumpy
    Though I haven't ridden after dark in years, here's my take:

    Up front, I have two headlights mounted on the bars pointed down the road about 30 feet, the drive side light is a blinker since people see a blinking white light and should think "cyclist". On my helmet, mounted on my right side, is a 150-ish lumen light with a tight beam used for identifying obstacles in the road or to aim at drivers that need to know that I don't want to meet them by accident. I am, however, extremely careful where I point it, trying very hard not to blind anyone accidentally.

    On the back I run both a steady and a blinking red tail light. Again, the blinking rear light should identify me as a cyclist. Also, the steady light makes it easy to judge your distance from me and the blinkie gets your attention. In addition to this I've placed highly reflective tape on my rims, hubs, pedals, crank arms, etc, to provide that movement that gets people's attention. Worked really well for me.



    Quote Originally Posted by gravelmonkey View Post
    Personally, I'm more irritated by ninja cyclists with no lights and dark clothing as I seem to come across them more often than people with excessively bright lights.
    I almost had a head-on collision once with a bike ninja riding on what he would consider to be his left shoulder (against traffic) while I was on the right shoulder (with traffic). I'm pretty sure I blinded him when I put my headlamp on his face when I realized that he was there (about 5 feet away and closing, in the fog, riding uphill).
    Last edited by PCC; 09-19-2013 at 05:09 PM.

  28. #28

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt Lumpy View Post
    Outlining the rider and bicycle with that neon glow stuff would look kind of goofy but might be the ideal kind of approach. It's probably a little too pimp for most serious riders. But we can move toward the same effect by using a couple of lights to "outline" our general shape. Helmet, calf and bike seat/rack tail would do a pretty good job of that from the rear. Rear is the most dangerous side for a bike.
    As a driver, I really appreciate the neon vests. Even highly reflective vests are good.

  29. #29

    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    As a bicyclist, I do use plenty of reflective stuff. That said, it's always the car turning onto the street (ie cross traffic) I'm coming down that cause most of my near misses. Since I'm moving straight across their path and their lights are aren't focused on me, the reflective materials don't do me (or them) any good until it's way too late.

    That's why the front headlights are absolutely critical for my safety. I run one h600 on the bars focused down on the street about 15 feet in front. I also use a similar helmet mounted light (more throw than flood) focused out about 20-30 feet, depending on my speed.

    With the focusing of the lights, there is no way I'm brighter or more blinding than the headlights of the cars shining into my eyes. When on the road with cars, that will remain one measure of if my lighting is "too much". However, I will continue to weigh that against when my lighting is "too little" which I measure as when cars still don't see me, which still happens. Frankly, I'm lucky to be alive following one near miss. When I do feel like I'm not being seen, I do change one of my lights to flashing mode, which always helps. I don't like it as a driver or a cyclist, but after using it, you can't argue with how much of a difference it makes.

    MUP and trail etiquette is entirely different, of course.

    One issue the OP raised was: "I'm not sure how to address headlamps (worn on the head). I completely understand why a cyclist would use them, but they seem to be the WORST offenders for blinding others so I would welcome some ideas."

    On that issue, my headlamp is probably the best "to be seen" light I have. The reason for this is that I'm riding in a bike lane, next to all the garbage cans, parked cars, bushes etc. Due to being pressed into the outside of the road, my handlebar light is often blocked from the view of the cross traffic. My helmet light, however, often can be seen above the obstructions and I can even swing it towards a car that looks like it hasn't seen me. I know this can be blinding, so I only do it if I'm scared they are going to pull out in front of me. One thing to remember in your (the OP's) talking points is that some of the behavior that might be considered rude by a driver is perhaps the only realistic option left to a bicyclist trying to get noticed. In other words, you won't be well received if you brush over a cyclist's behavior without providing equal or better safety.

    Personally, I don't believe it's a brightness issue, I think it's an aiming issue. Cars have fabulously bright lights, comparatively, but they are angled downward. The same should work for bikes (and it does, for me).
    Last edited by neonnoun; 09-20-2013 at 03:20 PM.

  30. #30
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: "Flashlight Etiquette" for Cyclists

    I very much agree with you Zespectre.
    And I am encouraged by so many reasoned and informative responses :-)

    Mega-bright lights can be dazzling, flashing mega-bright lights are so distracting that it is tough to look away from them.
    They make the carrier extraordinarily safe, and make every other road user unsafe. It is just plain selfish.

    I put similar views on another blog and got flamed by someone who told me I had it in for cyclists (I am a cyclist).
    My solution is to make light manufacturers include a non-flashing 'road mode' that does not exceed national car and motorcycle regulations for above-horizontal output. A voluntary agreement would help back-off laws that will surely follow as more and more cyclist get such lights.
    The use of these lights on the road is already illegal here in the UK. Where, like in the US, Europe, and Japan, sensible neighbourly vehicle lighting regulations have built-up over years of experience.

    Surely no one could say normal car lights are not sufficient 'to be seen by'.

    My favoured solution is to have 'main' and 'dip' bike lights - just like a car - it works well for me.
    Producing good road 'dip' beams was my reason for starting this thread:
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...ont-light-beam

    The trouble is, most light manufacturers have poor optical design skills and could not produce a light that doesn't dazzle, but does put enough light on the road to be useable.
    There are physics limits too. To get a non-dazzle beam with a 1mm LED die requires optics of at least a certain diameter, probably more than 40mm. With an XP-G, afaik, it goes up to over 50mm.

    As an interim, maybe high-power light manufacturers could mark their products, say with a white spot, that is to be vertically above the handlebar when the light is used on the road - so swivel up for off-road use, swivel around the handlebars down till the mark is at the top for road use.
    Maybe it would have to say 'use brightness setting so-and-so on the road' too.
    Trouble is, the light would be pointing down at quite an angle - at least the user would have to think about dazzle.

    Bandgap
    Last edited by Bandgap; 10-02-2013 at 03:32 AM.

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