Visibility on the road - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

Visibility on the road

Mike Ayling

I frequently read in journals that "we decided to switch on our front and rear lights because it was raining/foggy/getting dark etc.     

I don't ride around the block without switching on my lights front and rear. I use old fashioned AAA and AA batteries which last at least 100 hours per light.

I also always have a light coloured top, or a visivest with reflective tape on it for  after dark hoping that motorists will have their headlights on.

What do you do?   

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3 weeks ago
marilyn swettTo Mike Ayling

We do the same things all of the time. Although we've switched to rechargable Cygo lights that are very bright. 

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3 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Mike Ayling

I almost never ride with lights on my bike, unless it's in the literal darkness, and I can't see anything, in which case I use a bright white Serfas brand headlight.

I can't remember the last time I put a rear blinking red light on my bike. I know I should do it; in general I'm safety-conscious (I always ride with a helmet mirror, I'm very careful about route selection, etc.)

For some reason I never developed the habit of using the blinking red lights. I guess I should revisit using them.

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3 weeks ago
Bob DistelbergTo Mike Ayling

I have my red rear blinker on for every ride. I only use my front light in lower visibility situations such as near darkness, rain, fog, etc. Once in awhile I'll put it on if I'm on a narrow country road. I know I should use the front light more, but I figure I can see how cars are approaching me from the front, and hopefully can react to problems in time. Probably not a good assumption.

And I always wear a bright colored jersey, shirt or jacket. I have a collection of yellow, orange and green.

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3 weeks ago
Wayne EstesTo Mike Ayling

I turn on my rear flasher(s) all the time except maybe on a crowded bike path where it irritates other users.

I don't have a front white flasher but I see many cyclists using them. It definitely makes sense on urban and suburban roads that have cross traffic. It never seemed important to me because I mostly bike on rural roads that have almost no cross traffic.

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3 weeks ago
George HallTo Mike Ayling

My touring bike (customized Surly disc trucker frame) is equipped with a dynohub, so I run lights 24/7 while on tour.  I keep a battery-powered flasher on the rear also, but only use it when conditions are bad (such as fog or smoke).  

My training bike is also a touring bike - a Fuji Tour frame - and it is equipped with battery lights but I don't use them unless conditions warrant.  Whether I am on tour on the Surly, or riding one of my usual training routes, I have a slow-speed vehicle reflective triangle on the rear.  

I have different helmets that I use, one for touring and one for training - yeah, I'm weird like that, it just worked out that way.  The helmet I wear for my everyday rides cost me $19.95 at the army base near Weisbaden, Germany if 2019 - it was a good deal.  It has a blinking red light on the rear - but again, I would only use it if I encountered low-visibility conditions.  Similar to Jeff, I ride with a rear-view mirror - always.  So I know what's behind me and how they are behaving.  

I hesitate to mention this because I don't want to get into a detailed discussion on the merits of bicycle lights - but, one of the many hats I wore during my career was that of a Forensic Engineer - I specialized in what was called "accident reconstruction," meaning that I investigated and determined how vehicle collisions happened and I testified as an expert in court - I've investigated many bicycle collisions and fatalities.   Bicycle lights made in the U.S. are not so good for road riding (they are good for offroad trail riding should you do that at night) - German lights are the best.  Peter White's website has a wealth of technical info on bicycle lights for those interested; Bicycle Lights.  American bicycle lights aren't made like real headlights and often tend to blind oncoming drivers - in the U.S. the Consumer Products Safety Commission issues regs for bicycles, and they regulate bikes like they do toys - if the NHTSA regulated bikes like they do other vehicles, then the standards for bicycle lights would be different.  My bicycle lights were made in Germany.   Be aware that you can have lights that are too bright and actually defeat their purpose - you want to get the attention of oncoming drivers, not blind them.  

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3 weeks ago
Lyle McLeodTo Mike Ayling

We’re on the same program as George, Schmidt Son dynamo hubs and Edelux head and tail lights that are on 24/7. When we are on the bikes, the lights are on (the bike that is .... maybe not me 🙄).

In the Great White North where we live, automobiles are required to have permanent daytime running lights and finally as of this year (I believe) taillights as well. No reason for bikes that are on the road not to be the same.

I’ve also taken to applying reflective yellow tape in a chevron pattern on our rear fenders (mudguards for the Aussies & Brits out there)  plus we wear reflective safety straps on our person (yellow for me and stylish hot pink for Kirsten). So far it seems to be doing the trick.

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3 weeks ago
Kathleen JonesTo Mike Ayling

I use a red blinky on the back all the time. I got one of those Garmin Varia radar tail lights. 

I use a headlight as needed. That’s at night usually. But I’ll also use it on flash mode during the day if I’m riding in a vehicle-congested area or if I have to cross a lot of intersections.

One thing that I’d like people to know is that it doesn’t work to use the strobe/flash setting at night. For one thing, you can’t see anything. For another, you’re blinding drivers and riders. Please use the steady light. This is usually an issue with bike commuters who use the flash in the day time so then use it on the ride home.

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3 weeks ago
Suzanne GibsonTo Mike Ayling

In Germany bicycle lights are required on any public roads and are usually permanently installed on a new bike, not clip-on lights. Mine are powered by the e-bike battery. They don't blink, though. Of course, I could add a back blinky to the set-up.

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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne Gibson

Really?  They’re mandatory?  I feel like a scofflaw now, although I wasn’t scoffing if I didn’t know the law.  Lucky we didn’t get locked up.

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3 weeks ago