See the Lights

The other day I was biking home after work when out of nowhere…

See the Lights

It gets dark early these days. That means lights are something to plan on having. But even some folks that technically have lights don’t make it easy to see them.

See the Lights

So make sure to remember your lights, but also make sure they are visible.

See the Lights

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44 Responses to “See the Lights”

  • I like the noselight idea! I’ll try that!

  • Duncan M.

    Here in Minnesota cyclists often wear earphones (to cover ambient sound with music), disregard red lights stop signs (hey, I’m on a bike), dress in black, and totally ignore other beings on wheels. And our area has long winter nights, and miles of roads and bike trails without ambient lighting. It’s a miracle more of us aren’t killed. Then there are some cyclists who have lots of halogen headlights like those on a BMW. When one is approaching me in the dark, it’s blinding, but at least I know he/she is there. Of course can’t see the unlighted fool in black who is riding alongside…

  • Charles

    Thanks – I had the same experience just yesterday with the invisible cyclist.

  • Lonnie

    Then, though, there are the people who have lights, properly placed of course, that are so bright they blind you to everything else as they are approaching, ruin your night vision for a couple of minutes after you pass them, and leave you with after images whenever you blink.

    • I absolutely agree about the overly bright headlights. They are unnecessary in town and are equivalent to cars with their bright beams on which are not dipped when another vehicle approaches them.
      I call it overkill and inconsiderate when used on a bike.

      Coming from England, I realize that commuter cycling is not part of the DNA of people in this country so there is at least a generation or so of learning. One of the things that irks me is that cyclists do not use bells as a warning system when ever they pass another cyclist or pedestrian. A warning bell can be heard whereas a muttered “On your left” as they pass is inadequate.. And for goodness sake DO NOT pass on the right. Beware of people with no lights and not wearing a helmet.

  • Permanently fitted lights, either battery-powered or preferably dynamo-powered are a big part of the solution here. With impermanent lights its really easy to get caught without lights by being somewhere longer than anticipated, forgetting to take them off charge or losing them.

    • Dr C. is right here. Bike shops need to play their part too. Go to any bike shop in the Netherlands and all the bikes will come with permanent lights attached, usually with dynamo power so there are no batteries to change. Unfortunately in the UK (and I suspect the US too) nearly all bikes are sold as sporting equipment, with none of the practical parts that make utility cycling easy. Surely bikes that are going to be used around town should be sold with mudguards, lights, etc.?

  • mtnbiker40

    this is the best website ever! thanks from a NYer!

  • Lizzy

    I’d like to add a special thank you to the joggers on my dual-use path route home who attach lights to their collars or wear LED wrist/ankle bands & belts. I really don’t want to run you over or off the path, but I can’t see you in your dark jogging clothes and that little reflective logo in the small of your back ain’t enough.

  • Joseph

    I like to use the two rear light system.
    One on my helmet and one on the back of my rack / saddle bag
    Use two different types of lights (different flash patterns).
    Everyone I talk to says they can see me very well.
    A driver once stopped and thanked me for using lights because she could see me

  • Ruth

    A few years ago I bought a string of battery powered xmas lights – about 10 feet. I wrap it around my torso. People see me. They either laugh or make some other comment. I could care less. They see me and they avoid me – either because I’m flashy or because they think I’m nuts. Who cares.
    Please steal my idea. Now is the time to get the lights. Just don’t patent it… share it with the world..

    You can also buy runners led harnesses etc. Lots of stuff to light up the torso – It’s more effective than just lighting the bike. Sometimes the view of the bike is blocked but you can,or should be able to, see the rider. I also have lights on my helmet. Never blocked my packages, etc. And always with me.

    • Im going to take your Idea, I mostly ride in the daylight.. but Im usually a clown when I do that.. I make sure people notice me.. and get a good smile for the day.. my daughter has often told me Im going to cause a wreck with my hilarity.. but I stay on the bike path when I have one and mind my manners when riding with traffic.( i got hit this time last year in broad daylight with a hunter orange shirt on by an 83 year old man that would not have been able to see me if I was a neon sign.) I have lights mounted on the front and backof my bike and if i have groceries or something they are always on my back in my pack.. I never thought of wearing a long coat on a bike.. i would be scared it would get caught up in the spokes chain or something.. but your idea about the lights is great.. im going to look for some next week.

  • david

    Yeah, definitely, have had to be more alert for the “ninja bikers.” They tend to dress in black (or dark colors), ride with no reflectors — never mind lights — who give themselves away in the darkness only by a whooshing sound as they speed by a few feet away…

  • KillMoto

    Retroreflective tape in strategic places all over your bike is a good way to augment lights, for that time batteries fail, a light is stolen or your light mount fails after a particularly violent pothole encounter.

  • Kevin Love

    Here is my rear light. Yes, it is massive overkill, but even the most psychopathic of car drivers is going to have to try very hard to not see me.

    http://aervoe.com/paints_coatings/Super-LED-Road-Flare-Safety-Orange-Single.html

  • Glenn

    As a recovering light addict (working on it), I have to agree with the helmet light comments. They get people’s attention when your bike lights are obscured by parked cars and traffic and you can point the front light at cars in intersections to let them know you’re there. I love the 1/2 watt rear blinkies that provide daytime visibility (the 1 watt versions just seem like battery hogs). Okay, that’s all I’m allowed to say on my 12-step program without sliding back.

  • Techno

    I actually have two lights on the front and two on the back. On front and rear are my main lights, but I have two smaller cheaper lights which are great just in case one of the lights fail or the battery runs out unexpectedly. Seeing as you wouldn’t easily notice the rear one do this, I definitely recommend everyone have at least 2 lights on the rear.

  • BrianB

    On my daily commuter, I have a Mini Maglite mounted to my handlebars with this really cool mount from a company called DKG in San Rafael, Calif. (http://www.dkg-cnc.com/maglite.html). Solid as a rock. With the LED conversion kit, the Mini Maglite brightens up the whole street in front of me. Got a red Cateye mounted on the rear rack. For my wife’s bike, I got a Paul’s Components Gino light mount which allows you to put the light down on your fork. It keeps your handlebars free of clutter and won’t get blocked by anything being carried up front. (http://www.paulcomp.com/ginolightmount.html). See and be seen. –bb

  • Lights are super important but do not forget the reflective clothing…way too many invisible ninja bikes out there.

  • InAMinuteMan

    Gotta Love The Lumens…
    I’ve got a Dinotte on my helmet and a Dinotte tail light and it’s
    good to see and be seen.
    I’d add that when approaching other bicyclists at night it’s good
    practice to cover or dim or otherwise not blind the approaching
    cyclist (or pedestrian).
    On a local Boston area bike path there aren’t so many Ninja
    cyclists, but one has to keep an eye out for pedestrians.

  • alliwant

    The invisible cyclist frequents Madison too. Usually wearing black, often rides a fixie. Thankful for when he has a cig going, he’s easier to see. The funniest part is, you have to TELL him he’s invisible, he does not seem to know it.

  • Joe

    I have helmet mounted red and white blinkies, and a small photon “cannon” on my handlbars. Also, I always dress in hi-vis with lots of retroreflective stuff.

    That said…I often do NOT use my handlebar light, as it is blinding. So, a morning or two back my helmet white blinky battery was dead, and a lady sitting in her car decided to lecture me about turning on my front light…but she obviously could see me long enough before I passed for her to A) roll down her window, and B) deliver three full sentences. I admit I should be more proactive about my batteries, but was I really a bicycle ninja? Is it possible that she was perhaps a tad overboard on her side of the argument? Can there not be middle ground?

  • paul seamons

    I have 7 different lights on the front of my bike and 5 on the back. Don’t dare say you didn’t see me coming!

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