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Experience Using Helmet Light as Defensive Tool?

Old 11-14-19, 09:49 PM
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flangehead
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Experience Using Helmet Light as Defensive Tool?

Bobby G's "The Dark Side of Bike Commuting..." post got me thinking about defensive tactics to deal with aggressors on foot at night. I think the issue warrants a separate post.

Anyone have any experience using your headlights (particularly helmet mounted) to deter aggressors on foot?

I think I'm fortunate that I commute in a low-crime, safe-traffic area. However, in last 4 months on my commute I've passed police handling a motor vehicle fatality and a homicide in a parking lot so it may be that I'm delusional instead..

I've always planned, if approached at night by an aggressor, to just keep shining my helmet light (very bright) in their eyes. But I've never tried it or practiced it. May be another delusion..

Looking for any actual experiences that might help me better plan for the eventuality.
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Old 11-15-19, 08:00 AM
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If your shining your helmet light in your aggressor eyes your not watching what's ahead of you....I would try mapping a different route,change your times or or come up with a safer alternative....if you go by the same places at the same times someone could be waiting for you!
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Old 11-15-19, 08:08 AM
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What about some kind of billy club mounted like a frame-mounted pump under the TT? Inconspicuous and easy to deploy. Not sure what materials you'd make it out. Wood seems too 'soft', but maybe hardwood, like ash, like baseball bat...maybe a couple of spikes at the end of it, like medieval style. Then you can literally go medieval on the ass of a would-be aggressor.
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Old 11-15-19, 08:11 AM
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I ride with a helmet light and in the past rode through some of the lower income, high pedestrian areas of Atlanta. The light effectively stops the (potential) interview phase of criminal interactions. Someone approaching with (potentially) ill intent will usually stop and start talking/gesticulating where they are once I shine the light in their face. This allows me to exit the situation or attempt to dissuade them verbally if I cannot leave. A helmet light needs to be a part of a larger strategy or de-escalation, movement, and/or a self-defense continuum.

However, if someone is coming to criminally interact with you (assault/battery/robbery/etc.) without any soft approach, a helmet light will not dissuade them. The same behavior is seen in dogs, an aggressive dog coming to play/herd will be dissuaded by a bright flashlight in their eyes. A dog coming to attack will only avoid the beam and will maneuver as necessary to get past it to bite you.
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Old 11-15-19, 08:19 AM
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Have your lock, extendable baton, or mace ready if you are that concerned. A light won't do much.

When I used to ride in Denver and Chicago late at night/early morning I would always be sure my lock was easy to locate if need be. Never had an issue.
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Old 11-15-19, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by flangehead View Post
Bobby G's "The Dark Side of Bike Commuting..." post got me thinking about defensive tactics to deal with aggressors on foot at night. I think the issue warrants a separate post.

Anyone have any experience using your headlights (particularly helmet mounted) to deter aggressors on foot?

I think I'm fortunate that I commute in a low-crime, safe-traffic area. However, in last 4 months on my commute I've passed police handling a motor vehicle fatality and a homicide in a parking lot so it may be that I'm delusional instead..

I've always planned, if approached at night by an aggressor, to just keep shining my helmet light (very bright) in their eyes. But I've never tried it or practiced it. May be another delusion..

Looking for any actual experiences that might help me better plan for the eventuality.
I have never encountered a threat yet, but I have thought about it, too...and I also may be "delusional". I like to think a blast of my air horn would startle the perpetrator long enough for me to get a head start. It has worked on dogs.

Speaking of dogs, If I were stopped or forced to stop, I think the advice to put your bike between the dog and yourself may also pertain to a human assailant.

I also like to think that pointing to my helmet cam and announceing that "You are on camera!" might be a deterrent. I'd even fib and say "you are on a live video feed to the internet".

I also usually have an ear-piece in while riding and could call 911 with the touch of a button and a verbal command. Then I would announce, "I am on the phone with 911".

This would all be predicated on an un-armed encounter with one or two individuals.

I don't know what I would do if faced with a group, a knife or knives, or a gun or guns.

No bike, wallet or phone is worth your life.

There is always pepper spray and/or mace and other personal protection products. (edited, bobbyg).

Last edited by BobbyG; 11-16-19 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 11-15-19, 08:21 AM
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I’ve come across cars driving slowly on the bike path. Extremely bright light makes it impossible for them to see, so they stop. I don’t ride where attackers are lurking about. But I think a bright light in the face followed up with bear spray in the face would get the job done.
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Old 11-15-19, 09:34 AM
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A truly committed thug in this city is almost always going to have a weapon and, as said above, 1100 lumens is no match for a Glock. Guy here was mugged for his tricked-out Colnago some months ago. And we had a stabbing just this week on the very same MUP, which is super-popular and always busy during the day, but kind of deserted in the dark (when I am on it).

I lived in a bad neighborhood in NYC at the height of the crack epidemic. What I learned from that was to always be paranoid, always be hyper-alert. Head on a swivel. Even if something very bad is about to go down, you may have a chance to accelerate quickly and get away, if you see it in time. I suppose my headlight might help with that, if the aggressor were not too close yet. Otherwise, it's probably best to do what the Colnago guy did and give it up. No object is worth losing a life over. It's just stuff.
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Old 11-15-19, 09:43 AM
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Old 11-15-19, 10:07 AM
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Two words...

BAZOOKA HELMET

Why aren't we funding this?!


In all seriousness really bright LED lights make a good defensive weapon. Get one that has a strobe feature that you can quickly turn onto strobe. If you are rushing towards someone it is very disorienting to have a bright strobe light in your face.

This will not disable an attacker or hurt them. It will disorient them for a second, maybe two, giving you that time to flee the area. That's all this is good for. But if you're on a bike and the other guy is on foot, 2 seconds is more than enough time to get out of arms reach and be about your business.
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Old 11-15-19, 05:03 PM
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All of these "plans" mean nothing. You aren't going to be able to react fast enough to someone who is already planning to do you harm, because you'll be oblivious until they are already putting that plan into motion. They have the jump on you and no helmet light or even weapon is likely to be of much help, and will possibly result in them gaining control of said weapon. Because again, they already had the jump on you before you even knew what was happening.
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Old 11-15-19, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by robyr View Post
All of these "plans" mean nothing. You aren't going to be able to react fast enough to someone who is already planning to do you harm, because you'll be oblivious until they are already putting that plan into motion. They have the jump on you and no helmet light or even weapon is likely to be of much help, and will possibly result in them gaining control of said weapon. Because again, they already had the jump on you before you even knew what was happening.
So, just do nothing then? That's your advice?

So you're cruising along at 15 mph and someone jumps out from behind a building and runs toward you, say at 10 mph, or whatever speed he needs to run in order to intercept you. You're looking ahead and scanning this and you see the person coming at you. How do you react?

Or maybe this perpetrator has cleverly laid down some kind of spike strip across the bike path and you are unfortunate enough to run over it, causing an immediate flat to both tires. The the perpetrator runs at you from behind a building.

Explain to me in what scenario does the aggressor attack you where you have no chance to react? I am genuinely curious.
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Old 11-15-19, 06:13 PM
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Gun talk is not allowed on Bike Forums.
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Old 11-15-19, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
Gun talk is not allowed on Bike Forums.
Why not?

Honest question
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Old 11-15-19, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
Why not?

Honest question
I'll repost that part of the guidelines that everyone agreed to when they signed up here.

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Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.
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Old 11-16-19, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
I ride with a helmet light and in the past rode through some of the lower income, high pedestrian areas of Atlanta. The light effectively stops the (potential) interview phase of criminal interactions. Someone approaching with (potentially) ill intent will usually stop and start talking/gesticulating where they are once I shine the light in their face. This allows me to exit the situation or attempt to dissuade them verbally if I cannot leave. A helmet light needs to be a part of a larger strategy or de-escalation, movement, and/or a self-defense continuum.

However, if someone is coming to criminally interact with you (assault/battery/robbery/etc.) without any soft approach, a helmet light will not dissuade them. The same behavior is seen in dogs, an aggressive dog coming to play/herd will be dissuaded by a bright flashlight in their eyes. A dog coming to attack will only avoid the beam and will maneuver as necessary to get past it to bite you.
Same with human behavior
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Old 11-16-19, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by robyr View Post
All of these "plans" mean nothing. You aren't going to be able to react fast enough to someone who is already planning to do you harm, because you'll be oblivious until they are already putting that plan into motion. They have the jump on you and no helmet light or even weapon is likely to be of much help, and will possibly result in them gaining control of said weapon. Because again, they already had the jump on you before you even knew what was happening.
As a retired LEO that simply isn't true, I've had several instances in the past where the"bad guy" put his plan in motion but I trained and was prepared and survived....these days I still stay alert and I think that I'm prepared but I avoid areas of high crime and rarely ride at night
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Old 11-16-19, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
I'll repost that part of the guidelines that everyone agreed to when they signed up here.

Disruption

Posts which intend to disrupt the topic of conversation or steer the topic away from the focus of the forum and related news. Disruption can include harassment, multiple user profiles, multiple posting of the same post and posting completely off topic messages. Please do your best when it comes to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Excessive use of "AOL'ese" and "hAx0r" talk can be very disruptive so please keep it to a minimum. Private messages are to be kept private and never posted in the forums. Additionally, since we are a bicycle forum, primarily, and not a political forum, don't use political signatures or avatars, due to their controversy effect. Also,
gun discussion and illegal personal drug use are not allowed in the open public forum.
Did not know about the g-n discussion ban. I will abide.
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Old 11-16-19, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
I'll repost that part of the guidelines that everyone agreed to when they signed up here.

Disruption

Posts which intend to disrupt the topic of conversation or steer the topic away from the focus of the forum and related news. Disruption can include harassment, multiple user profiles, multiple posting of the same post and posting completely off topic messages. Please do your best when it comes to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Excessive use of "AOL'ese" and "hAx0r" talk can be very disruptive so please keep it to a minimum. Private messages are to be kept private and never posted in the forums. Additionally, since we are a bicycle forum, primarily, and not a political forum, don't use political signatures or avatars, due to their controversy effect. Also,
gun discussion and illegal personal drug use are not allowed in the open public forum.
That just says it is against the forum rules. I know I agreed to the rules. I'm not arguing about it.

I'm simply curious as to why the forum made it against the rules.
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Old 11-16-19, 02:50 PM
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How many thousands of people are you going to blind in traffic before you get to the one who might have wanted to steal your bike?
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Old 11-16-19, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 257 roberts View Post
As a retired LEO that simply isn't true, I've had several instances in the past where the"bad guy" put his plan in motion but I trained and was prepared and survived....these days I still stay alert and I think that I'm prepared but I avoid areas of high crime and rarely ride at night
This.

Bad guys are usually opportunists. Muggers need someone to not be paying attention to their surroundings to attack. The extra 3 to 4 seconds you might get by being aware of what's around you is often enough to avoid the situation entirely. Bad guys want to sneak up on you, not come right at you while giving you a chance to prepare to defend yourself.
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Old 11-16-19, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
How many thousands of people are you going to blind in traffic before you get to the one who might have wanted to steal your bike?
I think he means a light that could turn onto flashing when needed.

Also a flashing LED is blinding and disorienting from 3 feet away when shining in your eyes.

But from inside the car down the street it's just enough to make you noticeable.

I have a flasher next to my headlight on my handlebars. I've done a lot of testing with this. It's pretty obnoxious if I'm standing right in front of my bike. But from 15 feet away it's not all that disruptive. And as a car driver I see flasher lights on bikes all the time from 50 feet to 2500 feet away. As a driver I've never seen on that is distracting as a driver.
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Old 11-16-19, 03:05 PM
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I would think that if one ever finds themselves in a circumstance where the intensity of a headlight is something to be counted upon as a defensive measure, the situation is all but lost. The best defense is a proactive approach involving awareness, recognition, and avoidance. By the time any threat is within the effective range of a bright helmet light, they're already within striking distance.


-Kedosto
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Old 11-16-19, 03:09 PM
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"Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt," Sun Tzu.
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Old 11-16-19, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Kedosto View Post
I would think that if one ever finds themselves in a circumstance where the intensity of a headlight is something to be counted upon as a defensive measure, the situation is all but lost. The best defense is a proactive approach involving awareness, recognition, and avoidance. By the time any threat is within the effective range of a bright helmet light, they're already within striking distance.


-Kedosto
I don't know. A bright flashing light from 10 feet away makes it hard to tell if you are a 5'5" 125lb easy target or a 6'2" 220lb MMA fighter

Some attackers won't care (usually the 'high on drugs' kind) but most muggers are looking for an easy target, not a gamble.

Strobe lights shouldn't be your big plan for defense. That's kinda dumb. But if it's what you've got you can use one to your advantage.

If you're on a bike and the attacker is on foot, gaining 1 to 2 seconds while the attacker pauses it enough to get you 20 feet away from that spot, well out of arms reach. And you'll keep getting further away fast.
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