See Any Bikes?

Last night I had some time to kill which I spent walking around Kenmore square watching cyclists. This is what it looked like:


Okay, can you tell how many cyclists are in this scene?

No cyclists you say? Look again! There are seven.




And I’m not talking about those tiny anemic blinky lights that look like they came out of a grocery store toy vending machine.

Real hardy lights. Ones that I can see with my eyes.

And while you’re at it, get a bunch of them. You can never have too many lights.

Okay, maybe you can.


But you’ve all got a ways to go.

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18 Responses to “See Any Bikes?”

  • gneiss

    I’ve always been told that your best bet is to be “lit up like a disco”. I love your pictures!

  • When I see non-lit cyclists, I cringe. I light myself up like a circus!

  • It doesn’t have to be one or the other extreme – being well-lit, but not obnoxious and distracting is a perfectly good option :) (largely just making that statement and not reacting to the comic, as I know it’s meant to be silly)

  • Jim

    Jesus the top drawing is good.

  • Right on! 20-odd years of bike commuting (and occasional driving near bicycles) has taught me that the little “be seen light” is a dangerous myth. You need something that can compete with car headlights on a busy street, or you simply aren’t visible. Also it seems to me that many motorists judge my speed by my light’s brightness, so a bright light lets me ride safely at daytime speeds.

    “Obnoxious and distracting” is obnoxious and distracting, but it doesn’t come into play until your lights are as numerous as a big rig or as bright as an SUV. Or you use strobe mode.

  • Oh yes. The gramma’s lamp guy is what I looked like when I first began cycling in Boston. I’ve calmed down a bit since then : )

  • Sue

    Thought provoking drawings and points well made.

  • Jim

    A very good blog entry! We have the same problem here in Tucson, with cyclists running down the road at night without lights or even reflectors on their bikes. I guess they trust in a benevolent deity watching over them at all times, either that or they’re just careless and/or stupid.

  • Biking home to Boston through Cambridge on Hampshire today the oncoming outbound bike traffic was seriously bewildering. A dozen bikes, all but one of ‘em had lights, and most of those bright and flashing. I really did wonder what the heck the light show was. It took a few seconds for me to comprehend that I was seeing an approaching wave of well lit bikes. Maybe the Cambridge enforcement push for mandatory headlights actually made a difference? Either that, or this comic! :)

  • This kind of stupidity is pandemic in London, also, and with the recent change to British Standard Time, very on-topic:

  • Justin Winokur

    I agree whole hardily. I have a 600 lumen light in front (though I keep it at 400 most of the time), two small blinky lights on the side (side visibility is good), an obnoxious flashing light in back and two more small lights on my helmet. This is in addition to the reflectors on my ankles, bike trunk bag and my backpack. And, since my jacket is (unfortunately) black, I have a reflector vest. Of course, that mean that there are 8 CR2032 batteries and 2 AAA I need to keep track of. My 600 lumen is USB rechargable

  • When riding at night, my two of my Road I.D. “fireflies” (red: blinking mode and blue: solid state mode) seem to cause some drivers a noticeable amount of concern since I’ve had several over the past year slow down and yell over to me because they thought I was a cop (from a distance); anything to help them be more conscious when behind the wheel.

  • Ben

    I’ve started wearing a reflective safety vest at night because I have to take some unlit 45-mph roads to get between work and home. Even if my lights should fail or not be bright enough to compete with headlights, the vest still lights up like a Christmas tree when headlights hit it. It’s also bright yellow, so it’s highly visible on gray days that are just a little too light for bike lights as well.

    • Rudy Breteler

      Reflection only helps if they have their headlights on. I would like to say that nighttime drivers without headlights are a rare anomaly… but I live in Boston.

  • bluebullet

    So once I was touring, alone, and I was on this not busy highway into Prince Rupert, BC. Getting dark. Seemed like a good idea to keep going because of the schedule of the ferry I wanted to catch. It got completely dark, no moon, and I I could not even see the road. I just pointed my bike toward the low spot in the treeline ahead. When a car or truck came along, I could see the surface of the road by their headlights, and I pulled to the side.

    Once in town, after two hours or so of that foolish kind of riding, a helpful local pedestrian said “you need a light there.” Uh, yeah.

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