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Using Strobes on the Trail

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Using Strobes on the Trail

Old 06-17-19, 09:16 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by bikecrate View Post
At night I can see this as an issue, but is this really a problem in the daylight? I've encountered plenty of cyclist on streets and MUPs with flashing lights in the day time and never been blinded. There must be some bright lights out there I'm missing.
I think there are, and it's combined with a fast blinking rate. I have seen people riding with these things so bright I could see them a half mile away in broad daylight. If you apply the inverse square rule, and you realize that on a path, you're going to be passing each other at a range of about 3 feet, that's a lot of light to be flashing into someone's eyes.

I saw a situation once where a guy was running one of these things on a cloudy day on a MUP. The thing was so blinding that I didn't see he was riding with a small child alongside him until we were about 5 feet apart.

Slow the blink rate to a 1/2 second flash, and most of the problem probably goes away, but the fast strobe is just an absurd device on a path, and has no safety benefits whatsoever.
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Old 06-17-19, 09:30 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Al_in_NH View Post
It's funny how you all assume everyone who rides a rail trail is a "professional" who pays attention, watches where they run, walk, or ride, and treats everyone with respect. Well, we must ride different trails I guess (though I do ride the Minute Man Bikeway quite a bit) I guess I'll just go back to lurking now that the name calling has commenced. I didn't come here for that, but i suppose Rule Number 5 applies. Just for a point of reference, i'm not a newbie. I started riding seriously in 1978 when I was in Japan. Bought my first real bike, an Austro Daimler Olympian when I came back to the states in 1980, and have been riding ever since. I was a member of the League of American Wheelmen when it still was the League of American Wheelmen. Rode a bike from outside of Chicago Il to North Carolina when I was younger. Putin around 3000 to 4000 miles a year depending on when the ice and snow start piling up. You can spot me on the trail quite easily. I'm the guy with the low blinking strobe who waves and says hi to everyone. Even those of you too engrossed in your own greatness attempting to win the Tour de MyBackYard on the local rail trail.
I don't know if by "low blinking strobe" you're referring to intensity or speed, but I'm specifically referring to fast strobing very bright lights, which is a lighting technique used to disorient people.

Who said anything about "professionals" who "always pay attention"? If you're using a technique to try to get the <1% who don't look in front of themselves on a path to pay attention at the cost of fast-strobing everyone else who does, that's a pretty foolish calculation of risks.

I've been riding about 1000 miles a month, much of it on MUPs--maybe I've just encountered more of these unreasonable lights than you have. I'm getting the sense they may have been a bit of a fad. I still see a few once in a while, but there's a lot fewer than last year, when I took to actually yelling at people who were blinding me. Speaking of the Minuteman, they've now posted signs telling people to turn off the strobes. Your obnoxious snark aside, it is not just me who has found these things to be a problem.
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Old 06-17-19, 09:30 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
It was like being attacked by Star Wars.

It's not a disco.


Thank you for this.


-Tim-
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Old 06-17-19, 09:57 AM
  #29  
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There are really two types of front light; see and be seen. If you want to run a flasher, in order to be seen, then you should use an appropriate clear type diode for the task of flashing. Then you also run a dipped and constant illumination torch along side it, so you can see your path (namely the yellow diode type).

That said, my own headlight is crazy bright, and has a function that allows it to flash very fast. Thing is, i can't use strobe in very dark places as the effect makes it look like i'm stationary, and i'd soon lose my balance and fall off! If they're aimed properly in lit areas it's not so much an issue for on-coming traffic. That is, to the ground. But i've seen one or two that are pointing straight out, so on-coming traffic is looking directly into the beam...
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Old 06-17-19, 10:18 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I don't know if by "low blinking strobe" you're referring to intensity or speed, but I'm specifically referring to fast strobing very bright lights, which is a lighting technique used to disorient people.

Who said anything about "professionals" who "always pay attention"? If you're using a technique to try to get the <1% who don't look in front of themselves on a path to pay attention at the cost of fast-strobing everyone else who does, that's a pretty foolish calculation of risks.

I've been riding about 1000 miles a month, much of it on MUPs--maybe I've just encountered more of these unreasonable lights than you have. I'm getting the sense they may have been a bit of a fad. I still see a few once in a while, but there's a lot fewer than last year, when I took to actually yelling at people who were blinding me. Speaking of the Minuteman, they've now posted signs telling people to turn off the strobes. Your obnoxious snark aside, it is not just me who has found these things to be a problem.
I use a low intensity, low FLASHING light. I am fully aware of high lumen high STROBE rate lights and what they can do as well as how to deploy them from my former profession

As for the 1% who don't pay attention - we ride different trails. It's much much higher than that. Even on the Minute Man Bikeway. ESPECIALLY on a weekend. We used to park in Bedford, ride down to Arlington, turn right at the Uncle Sam statue and have coffee with our son who lives in the area at the little shop a block down the street. I have to say, I was not surprised to hear about the fatality on the Bikeway this winter. I'm only surprised there are not more.
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Old 06-17-19, 10:30 AM
  #31  
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Father's Day Ride

Headed out on Father's Day for a long ride on the MUP/Greenway. It was a busy day on the MUP/Greenway and close to the end of my ride, I noticed that I had not come upon any front high intensity flashing lights. But as I made the last curve heading to the parking lot, out comes a father with his two sons with new bicycles, full kit, and all flashing front lights. So, things are getting better I think overall, but there are some still out there. I like having a thread like this every so often so the word gets out. Non-flashing is fine, it is just the strobe that does me in(I have had cataract surgery and LED lights are my bane now).
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Old 06-17-19, 10:33 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by MikeyMK View Post
That said, my own headlight is crazy bright, and has a function that allows it to flash very fast. Thing is, i can't use strobe in very dark places as the effect makes it look like i'm stationary, and i'd soon lose my balance and fall off! If they're aimed properly in lit areas it's not so much an issue for on-coming traffic. That is, to the ground. But i've seen one or two that are pointing straight out, so on-coming traffic is looking directly into the beam...
That kind of strobe is pretty pointless - as you've pointed out you can't even see where you're going yourself. I've very occasionally switched my light to it when crossing a poorly designed road intersection, but the usual sequential mode switch is a bad user interface.

What would really be useful would be being able to switch to that mode with a momentary press of a button; then when you've called attention to yourself release the button to go back to a normal light-your-way light and keep it out of the other parties eyes. Another reason I prefer to have my primary pathfinding light on my helmet - additionally even a properly aimed bright bar light is in the eyes of oncoming riders when there's a change in grade between you - you can be stuck riding along holding a hand up to block their light surprising periods of time. If I do run a bright bar light, it's for secondary area lighting long after dark on a deserted trail, and because it's secondary to the primary aimed wherever my head is, I can turn it off or cover it with a gloved hand in the rare cases there is anyone else.
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Old 06-17-19, 10:34 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Al_in_NH View Post
If my lights annoy you it's because you see them. If you see them you wont run into me. If you don't run into me, I will enjoy my ride more than if you do.
If you blind me I may lose control and hit you and it will be your fault, not mine, though we will both likely suffer.
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Old 06-17-19, 10:53 AM
  #34  
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Bicycle lighting is very haphazard in the USA. Flashing lights do increase visibility, but on moving objects a flashing light (front or rear) diminishes most people's ability to judge distance. LED are point light sources and can be disruptive to vision even in daylight, especially for middle-aged and older people whose response to lighting levels is slower. Perhaps you can equip your bike with a bright light to demonstrate to the offending cyclists what their pulsating lights do to oncoming cyclists--the cycling equivalent of flashing your high beams.

Personally, I like a lot of light but more is not always better, especially if the goal is not seeing the road, but making sure you are seen. Given inconsistent cycling infrastructure, lack of cycling training and the tendency of humans to be selfish, don't expect much from others out on the trail. Low expectations=less unhappiness.
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Old 06-17-19, 11:02 AM
  #35  
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The only reason I'd run any kind of lights during the day is cars. If I was riding exclusively on trail I wouldn't even bother with lights during the day. A bell works better, especially around blind corners.
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Old 06-17-19, 11:04 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Al_in_NH View Post
I use a low intensity, low FLASHING light. I am fully aware of high lumen high STROBE rate lights and what they can do as well as how to deploy them from my former profession

As for the 1% who don't pay attention - we ride different trails. It's much much higher than that. Even on the Minute Man Bikeway. ESPECIALLY on a weekend. We used to park in Bedford, ride down to Arlington, turn right at the Uncle Sam statue and have coffee with our son who lives in the area at the little shop a block down the street. I have to say, I was not surprised to hear about the fatality on the Bikeway this winter. I'm only surprised there are not more.
Right, I usually distinguish between "blinking" light (no problem) and "strobing" light. I don't think we actually have a disagreement. You have a strategy for dealing with inattention that doesn't involve disorienting painful lighting. Are you a former LEO?
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Old 06-17-19, 11:08 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by honcho View Post
Bicycle lighting is very haphazard in the USA. Flashing lights do increase visibility, but on moving objects a flashing light (front or rear) diminishes most people's ability to judge distance. LED are point light sources and can be disruptive to vision even in daylight, especially for middle-aged and older people whose response to lighting levels is slower. Perhaps you can equip your bike with a bright light to demonstrate to the offending cyclists what their pulsating lights do to oncoming cyclists--the cycling equivalent of flashing your high beams.

Personally, I like a lot of light but more is not always better, especially if the goal is not seeing the road, but making sure you are seen. Given inconsistent cycling infrastructure, lack of cycling training and the tendency of humans to be selfish, don't expect much from others out on the trail. Low expectations=less unhappiness.
Don't high beam them, tell them to turn it off. Lot's easier to actually talk to people on bikes than in cars.
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Old 06-17-19, 11:29 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Don't high beam them, tell them to turn it off. Lot's easier to actually talk to people on bikes than in cars.
maybe on your planet :-)
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Old 06-17-19, 11:33 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by honcho View Post
maybe on your planet :-)
I open my mouth and words come out. They aren't in an enclosed vehicle, so they can definitely hear "turn off the light!" even when they're speeding the other way. Something different on your planet?
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Old 06-17-19, 01:04 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
Complains:



Most replies are also complaints. Classic.
Care to actually say anything substantive?
These things are a complete nuisance on the paths at best, and a menace to safety in some situations.
If I have to complain about some incidents to illustrate that point, I'll complain.
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Old 06-17-19, 02:05 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
Complains:

Most replies are also complaints. Classic.
How bright is the strobe you use on the rail trail?


-Tim-
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Old 06-17-19, 02:09 PM
  #42  
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Old 06-17-19, 02:27 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Please don't turn this into a complain thread.

I'd simply like to ask those of you who use high powered strobe lights on the rail trails to please stop.

I'm not talking about crowded, meandering inner-city MUPs where crowds of pedestrians might make a flasher appropriate. I'm talking about high powered stobes out on long rail trails in the middle of nowhere where there are only cyclists.

I'm also not talking about the little diode on the front of your GPS or some other very low powered light but high powered LED lights on strobe setting.

They are simply not needed. Beyond that, they also interrupt the vision of cyclists coming the other way.

As a courtesy to other cyclists please turn your high powered strobes when you get to the trail. Thanks.


-Tim-
Here, here! Solid & low power on trails & at night; Strobe on roads & during the day. It's not hard and it's simple courtesy.

A friendly reminder to the offender doesn't hurt either. They may have forgotten or just didn't know.

About a week and a half ago, I went for a ride and turned my strobe on for "The Missing Link" in Ballard. It was fun, watched some of the criterium racing & headed on my way. I had just turned off the Missing Link at the Fred Meyer there (rail road track/zig-zag) and an oncoming cyclist yelled: "Turn off your strobe! Effing Moron!" So I acknowledged: "Oh, right, thanks!" and turned it back off again.

He didn't need to be a jerk. I was a hundred feet onto the trail after 15 miles in city traffic with a low sun angle. Some people are just jerks & courtesy goes a long way both directions.
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Old 06-17-19, 02:40 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Here, here! Solid & low power on trails & at night; Strobe on roads & during the day. It's not hard and it's simple courtesy.

A friendly reminder to the offender doesn't hurt either. They may have forgotten or just didn't know.

About a week and a half ago, I went for a ride and turned my strobe on for "The Missing Link" in Ballard. It was fun, watched some of the criterium racing & headed on my way. I had just turned off the Missing Link at the Fred Meyer there (rail road track/zig-zag) and an oncoming cyclist yelled: "Turn off your strobe! Effing Moron!" So I acknowledged: "Oh, right, thanks!" and turned it back off again.

He didn't need to be a jerk. I was a hundred feet onto the trail after 15 miles in city traffic with a low sun angle. Some people are just jerks & courtesy goes a long way both directions.
Right on! The social niceties of please and thank you may be a bit too much to manage while riding towards each other, but there's no reason to add the effing moron stuff.

OTOH, the guy with the aforementioned strobe that could be seen a half mile away at noon on a sunny day called me a whiner when I told him to turn it off. That strobe was absolutely blinding at close range, and he was on the Minuteman, which is incredibly crowded at places, and not very wide.
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Old 06-17-19, 03:00 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Al_in_NH View Post
I guess I'll just go back to lurking now that the name calling has commenced..
Originally Posted by Al_in_NH View Post
I use a low intensity, low FLASHING light. I am fully aware of high lumen high STROBE rate lights and what they can do as well as how to deploy them from my former profession

As for the 1% who don't pay attention - we ride different trails. It's much much higher than that. Even on the Minute Man Bikeway. ESPECIALLY on a weekend. We used to park in Bedford, ride down to Arlington, turn right at the Uncle Sam statue and have coffee with our son who lives in the area at the little shop a block down the street. I have to say, I was not surprised to hear about the fatality on the Bikeway this winter. I'm only surprised there are not more.
Well that was short lived.
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Old 06-17-19, 04:16 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
That kind of strobe is pretty pointless - as you've pointed out you can't even see where you're going yourself. I've very occasionally switched my light to it when crossing a poorly designed road intersection, but the usual sequential mode switch is a bad user interface.

What would really be useful would be being able to switch to that mode with a momentary press of a button; then when you've called attention to yourself release the button to go back to a normal light-your-way light and keep it out of the other parties eyes. Another reason I prefer to have my primary pathfinding light on my helmet - additionally even a properly aimed bright bar light is in the eyes of oncoming riders when there's a change in grade between you - you can be stuck riding along holding a hand up to block their light surprising periods of time. If I do run a bright bar light, it's for secondary area lighting long after dark on a deserted trail, and because it's secondary to the primary aimed wherever my head is, I can turn it off or cover it with a gloved hand in the rare cases there is anyone else.
That's a good idea, easily enough done with a thumb switch and bell wire. Mine is activated by a thumb button for my e-bike's computer, the headlight symbol comes up on the screen when it's on. In my case then i have that but i have to press and hold a second, so switching between modes is a little clumsy. I don't ride on roads though, so i only have teenagers texting on their phones to worry about.
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Old 06-17-19, 05:22 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
They don't belong on the urban MUP either. The bright strobing just makes you and the people around you harder to see.
I disagree.

In some places in the urban setting, there are just too many lights.

Low street lights.
Auto Lights.
etc.

The strobes help differentiate the bike from the background.

Nonetheless, the power should be set to a medium level. Not super-bright, not super-dim.

And, point the focal point of the light away from people's eyes.

Personally, I find the strobes annoying for riding, although those sinusoidal bright/dim lights aren't too bad.
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Old 06-17-19, 05:37 PM
  #48  
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First I'll admit to not reading the whole thread.

Second, my anecdotal experience doesn't mean this will happen to you.

Scenario:
I live in Iowa, long rides after work mean coming home in the dark. We ride Rail-to-trail with some road crossings.

Event Details:
Finishing the ride, the trail is ending at a large road intersection. It's dark, all cyclists have *non-strobing* lights on. Coming into the "city" from out in the dark-ish country side.
I was on the left (oncoming) side of the trail, thinking it was clear - but I had so many traffic\street lights coming into my vision (and my partner, the same) that I didn't see that the light of the cyclist coming the opposite direction could be differentiated from the traffic\street\business lights.
My partner and I are only a few hundred feet from intersection, and we hear someone scream at us, not even sure what he said.
I did immediately dodge right, out of oncoming lane and there was no crash, but it was dingin' close.

A mild strobe would have done wonders in this situation.
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Old 06-17-19, 06:29 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
For a moment I thought you were asking me not to don a trench-coat.
He might not, but the rest of us will.
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Old 06-17-19, 07:34 PM
  #50  
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Both my Garmin Varia UT 800 and my Light and Motion lights have a pulse mode that is not as harsh as the strobe in other lights, doesn’t blind incoming riders and, best of all, keeps the road illuminated because the phasing between pulses pretty much insures constant illumination.

I think that more and more light manufacturers are going this way. I also think this is also mandated in Europe.

Cheers.
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