Safety Illumination Advice

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by angotja, May 16, 2004.

  1. angotja

    angotja New Member

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    Specifically, I would like to know what people are using for reasonable and safe illumination to stay visible to motorists at night. How much should I expect to spend to equip myself? I am a new night rider, and I believe that a headlight and a self-illuminating taillight, coupled with reflective apparel are sufficient for safe transit. Have I overlooked anything here? Advice/participation is greatly appreciated.
     
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  2. MidBunchLurker

    MidBunchLurker New Member

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    I use a 12w halogen headlamp and one of those flashing red taillights. Then I put reflective bands around my ankles. Also my jacket has some reflective piping on it... seems to work so far...
     
  3. Goosebeak

    Goosebeak New Member

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    I use the CatEye HL-RC220 up front, and a CatEye flasher round back. The reflective strips I don't much bother with, apart from what's on my shoes and cycling clothes.

    Doesn't really seem to make much difference, though - the taxis STILL try to see who can get closest to me, and the trucks really don't give a damn either way... What's one more piece of roadkill to a 16-wheeler?
     
  4. SomeGuy

    SomeGuy New Member

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    Once you have a flasher front and rear and some reflective strips, you are going to be pretty darn visible. Super bright lights etc are overkill - the idea is for them to see you, rather than illumination.

    I'd go with LED lights, rather than halogen or whatever, as LEDs last ages, saving you a fortune in batteries. I stoped using my quad AA Cateye halogen headlight because it just sucked too much juice. My 3 LED flasher/headlight that I have now is much more economical :).
     
  5. angotja

    angotja New Member

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    I have been shopping around and found some reasonable prices. I think I will take advice and go the LED route...thanx for input.
     
  6. zumbrunndbla

    zumbrunndbla New Member

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    I am not sure I agree: the white flashers, that people have in front are pretty feeble and easy to overlook (even for me as a cyclist). I have a (red) flasher as a tail light and a small rechargeable light for the front: it is called Astro 5.0, 5W (ca. $30.- if I remember correctly), all in one piece except of course the charger, which has the size of a cell phone charger. Gives me about 2h of the brighter light per charge, good enough for commuting. This saves the money-for-batteries-problem. The HID bulbs are expensive though, don't drop the thing!

    Many residential areas in the US are badly illuminated and it is nice to have a light that helps you see the road before you, so you don't fall into potholes, another thing quite common in the US.

    One more thing: put reflective stuff on moving parts: the wheels (required by law in many countries) and/or your legs/shoes. This makes it a lot more abvious.
     
  7. angotja

    angotja New Member

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    zumb.-

    do you commute in Boston? if so, how often, and with how much difficulty? Any night rides on city streets there?

    As I recall, the drivers/traffic situation there is totally heinous. Apparently you are not intimidated. This is good.
     
  8. moltar

    moltar New Member

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  9. Brunswick_kate

    Brunswick_kate New Member

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    Last year I purchased a10 W helmet mounted lighting system. Being a bit of a tightwad, I ended up with one that was quite heavy for the battery pack which is doesn't bother me. I put it in a pouch that goes on my waist belt and off I go. I think that the helmet light is brilliant (pun intended). The difference between it and the headlight I had on the bike is that the helmet light moves with me and so I can always see, whereas the handlebar light was only good in helping others see where the bike is.

    I don't know how much the helmet light helps with my visibility. I do recall meeting a cyclist in early dawn hours who was coming towards me with one on his helmt and I estimate I noticed his position about 1 km off, so it's reasonably effective.

    I use a red blinky blinky tail-light and am toying with the idea of using a similar device on my left glove/wrist to make my use of hand signals more visible.
     
  10. angotja

    angotja New Member

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    Wow...you guys should check out the link in moltar's reply. That is some pretty serious stuff.
     
  11. Goosebeak

    Goosebeak New Member

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    hehehe - you get to make hand-signals over there, and people ACTUALLY TAKE NOTICE????

    The roads over here (South Africa) are amongst the most dangerous in the world, especially because of the minibus taxis, and the HUGE number of unlicensed drivers.

    It's a great place to learn defensive riding techniques, though...
     
  12. saturnsc2

    saturnsc2 New Member

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    i use 2 union 6v 3 watt halogen generator sets on my old 10-speed. i like to ride for many hours after sun-set because of less cars on the road & i like to have an un-limited supply of power. i have an h.i.d. system on my mountain bike that is as bright as the sun, & has 4 hours of burn time on a charge. it's probably the best system money can buy, with one of the longest burn times out there, but even still on some of my long rides, it would be calling it close, & i would just use the generator equipped bicycle in that situation, besides, the mountain bike is harder to ride for such a long time because of the knobby tires which slow you down....
     
  13. zumbrunndbla

    zumbrunndbla New Member

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    I just checked it out. One question occurs to me: if you use halogen bulbs for use in rooms etc. how do they survive the bouncing around? The ones that are sold for bicycles are specially constructed to be more sturdy (and somewhat less bright, there is no free lunch). Even at my garage door opener a standard bulb lived all of two days! :confused:

    Just wondering...
     
  14. pauly999

    pauly999 New Member

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    My ride home from work includes a 5km stretch of road (70km/h zone) in the western 'burbs of Melbourne used by everything that moves, from lotsa cars to semi trailers etc. Its has no marked lanes, let alone a bike lane, and is wide enough for vehicles to sqeeze past each other. Sounds like a cyclists nightmare? We when riding at night its scary. So, I use a Smart 7LED flasher, and 2 Knog single LED flashers at the back, as well as a red reflector, 2 big strips of reflective tape on my bag, plus the reflective suface already on my shoes and seat. So far, this appears to work, as in the last 3 yrs, no near misses at all from behind. If find the more dangerous thing is being visible from the front when you get cars turning in fron of you, because as you are approaching them , they dont have as much time to see you. So even with bits of reflective tape on my bag straps, a 5LED white flasher, and 2 single LED white flashers at the front, you still have to watch out. My theory is, light yourself up like a Xmas tree, and dont trust anything with an engine.
     
  15. mgagnonlv

    mgagnonlv New Member

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    What I have

    Qu├ębec law requires us to have a red reflector behind, a white one in front, red and yellow in-wheel reflectors and pedal reflectors. Plus headlight and taillight. Strangely enough, one needs to have the reflector kit in daytime, but the lights are required only at night... go figure!

    My headlight is powered by a dynohub so it never dies. I like to be able to go out for 4-5 hours at night, even at -15 C, and to be sure I won't find myself in the dark.
    The commuter has a Shimano NX-30 and a single round Lumotec, whereas the tourer has a Schmidt dynohub, a Lumotec Oval Plus and a secondary Lumotec. These headlights have a built-in reflector, BTW.

    Rear lighting is done via a few battery powered Vistalite Super Nebula, which are the brightest I found so far.

    I also have the required spoke reflectors (a bit of side visibility doesn't hurt, though I don't consider it that important), and a few large SAE (automotive) amber (2) and red (1) reflectors on my mudflap and an amber one on my saddle. My rear fender has also the red and white reflective strip found on trucks. BTW, we need one red reflector and one red taillight; no restrictions on extra stuff, providing it's not white.

    I lost the pedal reflectors when I switched to clipless last year. I may add reflective tape on the cranks of my touring bike, but probably won't do it on the cranks of my tandem (black cranks).

    Details of my headlights are found at http://peterwhitecycles.com. The rationale behind my reflector and light kit at http://www.bikexprt.com.


    Where do you ride makes a huge difference in what you need

    For instance, my commute is urban riding. Mostly one way streets, traffic lights everywhere, car traffic at 10-35 km/h (i.e. it's packed), and later when bars open, pedestrians cross everywhere.
    So I find the basic headlight is more than enough. I like to add a flasher when bars open, because theese seem to catch the attention of pedestrians.
    For taillights, using 2 Vistalite is enough to be visible, and add a bit of safety: if one set of battery dies, the other will continue to work.

    On the other hand, with the tourer, I often ride at night -- after kids are in bed -- in suburbia, semi-rural routes, etc. that are poorly lit or unlit, where traffic is mostly local (freeways nearby) but still fast moving. So the second Lumotec and a 2 or 3 Vistalite (1 steady, the others flashing) offer more visibility.

    Finally, when I ride at night on highways -- at least once a year -- I install 3 or 4 Vistalites in a compact shape, so my taillight is not only fairly powerful, but also large enough to be seen from far away... which is safer when traffic moves at 100 km/h.
     
  16. Shreklookalike

    Shreklookalike New Member

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    Two red lights on back, one flashing the other steady, plus a rear reflector. Two battery operated Bell halogen headlamps. I use one until it quits, then turn on the other and recharge batteries on the first when I get home. I also bought some of the same reflective tape that they use on trucks. I've got some on my bike frame, some on my helmet, and some on my backpack. My ride home is only about 3 miles and not too much traffic.
     
  17. Powerful Pete

    Powerful Pete New Member

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    Have any of you checked out the Lupine systems (google 'em). From all the reviews I read they appear to be the best lighting systems out there. Of course, most of them cost more than the average bike we are riding... :eek:

    Any thoughts or experience with these? :confused:
     
  18. aisT

    aisT New Member

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    Hi,

    I'm fairly new to cycling and this forum. I've started commuting to university which is just under 9 miles each way, and there is a 5 to 6 mile stretch on an unlit road where a small amount of traffic moves at the national speed limit (60mph). There are a couple of days I cycle back when its dark but being quite new to commuting, I'm not sure what I'm doing is safe. At the moment I have a bright flourescent yellow cycling jacket with a reflective strip, a rear LED and a dual light (filament and LED) which has to be strapped to my helmet as my basket gets in the way. Is this dangerous, and is it worthwhile for me to invest in more lights?

    aisT
     
  19. Shreklookalike

    Shreklookalike New Member

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    I'd suggest trying to find a way to affix a light to your basket (that way if your helmet lamp goes off you've got instant backup). If your seatpost is up high enough add a second flasher (chances are both sets of batteries won't fail on the same night). Add reflective tape to your helmet and several spots on your frame (I use the same tape they put on tractor trailers). Just do everything you can to make certain nobody can ever use the excuse "I didn't see you".
     
  20. listopad

    listopad New Member

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    Although decent lights are obviously essential, I believe that ankle reflectors are the best means of being noticed at night (in conjunction with all the other bits and pieces). I find that however powerful a light is, there are so many white / red lights that they merge into each other, while the movement associated with ankle reflectors is unique and more noticeable. This morning, during heavy rain (and poor light) I saw a guy's ankle reflectors before I saw his lights and his high-vis jacket.
     
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