PSA – How to Use Commuter Bike Lights for Fun and Safety

We just read this on our local cycling group’s Yahoo Group, and I thought it was both enlightening and worth sharing. Please pass along the link to anyone you know that commutes by bike and isn’t en-light-ened:

It appears a fair few people have made a New Year’s Resolution to commute by bike. On Monday evening I saw four people on bikes commuting. Except for one guy on Old Battleground, none of them had a head light. One had a tail light on the bike, another had a tail light on the helmet and one had no lights at all.

The guy with no lights appeared to be the brightest of the bunch though. He was walking his bike off the edge of Holden Rd.

The guy with tail light on the bike was the one that spooked me the most though–I encountered him shortly after pulling onto Lake Brandt Rd. I noticed him as I pulled level with him going in the opposite direction. Had he been faster I might have pulled out in his path because he was invisible from the front.

Helmet light guy was a similar situation (just about the same location except I was approaching from behind this time). The light mounted up high like that with no passive (reflectors) or active lighting on the bike made it appear he was around 200 yards further up the road than he actually was when he was in the black holes between street lights.

My point–If you need to ride when the sun doesn’t shine, get a head light and a frame mounted tail light. The head light to reduce cut-offs by pull-outs and left-crosses and so people can find you in their mirror when they merge into your lane; a frame mounted tail light so you are recognizable as an SMV at the expected range. The vehicle code is written with safety paramount–flaunting it does no one any good.

Thanks to Michael for the tip!

Comments

jamesmoore80 - 01/06/11 - 10:18am

This is a good point. I am cycling all year now and this is my first winter, cycling. I’ve decided to buy the best lights possible since inclement weather and decreased stopping time will increase. I have a Dinotte 300R taillight, Princeton Tec helmmet mounted light(that I use to look at drivers pulling out to be sure they see me and it stopped a huge buck from running into me once), and an Exposure Diablo Mk 2. I also have reflectors front and back and wheels and frame protectors that are highly reflective from BikeWrappers. I have a pic posted on my twitter account. I also have noticed the growing epidemic of distracted driving and that’s another reason I make myself as humanly possible to be seen.

Steve Jones - 01/06/11 - 1:54pm

This is my first full year back cycling, amen. I ride early, 6AM or thereabouts year round and I’m often surprised by other cyclists going the opposite direction in the dark, dark clothing, no lights at all. I sometimes don’t see them on the streets until they are even with (opposite direction) too. But I’m a big believer in daylight running lights as well. I’m using the Serfas True 250 front, the Light & Motion Vis 180 rear and a planet bike red blinky on my helmet, rear. On the greenline here or on the streets other cyclists often tell me that can see me from a long way off. Nothing is foolproof, but being invisible is foolish. Good lights are well worth the investment!

jamesmoore80 - 01/06/11 - 3:14pm

Here is a picture of my bike all lit up http://twitpic.com/3kuun2

Mick - 01/06/11 - 3:56pm

The number of Ninja riders out there is growing. I’ve given up trying to point that out to them (politely)…
I, like Steve, have started to ride with lights during the day (and it certainly helps)
Since I’m guaranteed to come out on the losing end of a collision, I figure anything that will help minimize my exposure to an incident is worth while

jc - 01/06/11 - 5:25pm

I nearly ran over a woman on a bike the other night on a popular bike path street just two blocks from my house the other night…I’m a cyclist, I look for bikes, drive pretty safely- but I didn’t see her. She was invisible in the moment I made the decision to pass through the intersection. After slamming on the brakes, avoiding killing her, she gave me the look. You know the one- I throw it when a driver nearly hits me…She had a light, so I think she thought she was visible. But honestly, it was a crappy little ‘be seen’ light. I wish people would get a clue that those lights are pretty useless, esp. in the side view department. Mix in a little rain on the windshield and your riding stealth. 100-200 lumens minimum, please. At least you cast a bright spot on the road ahead of you to warn others.

Millard Filmore - 01/07/11 - 8:49am

No lights no rights!

new cyclist - 02/12/11 - 6:04pm

@ jamesmoore80: where did you get your lights? Im looking to buy some

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.