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Thread: studies on effective lighting - luminosity, flash patterns

  1. #1

    Default studies on effective lighting - luminosity, flash patterns

    The end of this advertorial has some references. One thing mentioned is that when going thru an intersection, have flashing white lights to draw attention. A button triggering 10 seconds of that might be useful to a cyclist. Emergency vehicles have lights linked to the horn.
    Works referenced:

  2. #2

    Default Re: studies on effective lighting - luminosity, flash patterns

    That's interesting. I wonder if they could maybe introduce some geo-based features from this study into lights like these:

    Could be a way to automatically provide the function (10 secs light) you were talking about.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Keitho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    CO, USA

    Default Re: studies on effective lighting - luminosity, flash patterns

    Interesting reading in the references. I took away, as a cyclist--purchase, implement, and use lights in a responsible and thoughtful way (color, intensity, pointing direction, modes, etc.); and, try not to blind people with blue glare and too-bright lights. However, at least on my local roads, I find that 90% of drivers (and other cyclists and pedestrians on the paths I use) can be described as some combination of inebriated, angry, distracted, and stupid; so, all the thought and effort I put into conspicuity only has an effect on the 10% that probably weren't a danger to me in the first place!

  4. #4
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Stillwater, America

    Default Re: studies on effective lighting - luminosity, flash patterns

    Generally speaking, what applies to fire trucks, police cars, school buses, sanitation trucks, recovery vehicles, and ambulances does NOT apply to bicycles. People are quick to conflate "eye catching" with "presenting a real safety benefit". People are quick to claim that "because things work for this class and purpose of vehicle it can be safely used on bicycles", but these things are not true.

    Our Vulnerable Road Users (or VRU's) include pedestrians, bicyclists, and even motorcyclists and the occasional person on horseback (and their horse). They compete with other vehicle classes for space on the road, and compared to the occupants of other vehicles, they will fare poorly in the event of a collision. This often prompts those same VRU's to attempt to reduce the chance of a collision, by adding non-standard lights, or (in the case of motorcyclists) making their exhaust systems louder-- neither idea is based in fact or science, and generally will worsen their safety. In the case of the extra-stupid lighting, occasionally their ideas get lobbied into law (see: headlamp modulators), and so then these things become legal and add just so much more optical noise on the roadway (all the while, people referring to the new laws as official recognition that their harebrained lighting is a net safety benefit, which leads to more people adopting them on their own bicycles, or lobbying for similar things in their state). Turning a distracted driver into a *confused* driver is not a good thing! A bicyclist, thinking their extra lighting is making them safer (when the reverse is true) and being lulled into a false sense of security is not a good thing!

    A light should provide proper forward lighting, or proper identification of a vehicle's size and direction of travel, or a proper indication of a signal, whether it is "I'm stopping" or "I'm turning" or "I'm backing up, now".

    Obviously, there are other lamps like on police cars and some of the other vehicles in the first sentence (like the white strobe on school buses with children on board, or the flashing lights on the same bus' stop sign when loading or unloading passenger), or a recovery vehicle hooking up to a vehicle or actively towing it, but a bicycle is none of these things and additional nonsense lighting is a distraction, not a benefit.

    For bicycle lighting, there are well-established methods of safely lighting a vehicle; the UK and Germany both have well-defined laws, with a few differences between them (Germany in particular does not allow flashing rear lamps on bicycles, the UK has only recently (as far as "legal time" goes) begun allowing them). Adhering to their laws without trying to invent something novel and "eye-catching" (flashing lights, blue or green reflectors and the like) is much safer than trying to turn your bicycle into a rolling discotheque.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 09-25-2019 at 03:38 PM.

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