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Using Strobes on the Trail

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Using Strobes on the Trail

Old 06-21-19, 11:32 AM
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And while we are solving the above equation to quantify actual risk, How many bike lights strobe at 15 to 20 flashes per second? You know...the most likely kind to trigger a seizure? A quick Google search for: "20 hertz bicycle light" yields zero results.

Approaching zero risk?
No.
Zero.
Seizure inducing bicycle lights are not commercially manufactured on planet Earth.
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Old 06-21-19, 12:13 PM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Seizure inducing bicycle lights are not commercially manufactured on planet Earth.
No...not commercially.....but I know a guy.....

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Old 06-21-19, 12:39 PM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
And while we are solving the above equation to quantify actual risk, How many bike lights strobe at 15 to 20 flashes per second? You know...the most likely kind to trigger a seizure? A quick Google search for: "20 hertz bicycle light" yields zero results.

Approaching zero risk?
No.
Zero.
Seizure inducing bicycle lights are not commercially manufactured on planet Earth.
From the Epilepsy Society website:
https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/p...y#.XQ0i_YhKhph

"Between 3-30 hertz (flashes per second) are the common rates to trigger seizures but this varies from person to person. While some people are sensitive at frequencies up to 60 hertz, sensitivity under 3 hertz is not common."

Any more artificial goal post moving you want to do?

Also, I don't find a lot of really clear results when I google "hertz" and "bicycle light". The advertised specs tend to be lumens, not hertz, so I don't really know what the normal rate for these strobes are. I'm sure I'm seeing a lot faster than 3 hertz in the wild, but I really can't count much faster than that.
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Old 06-21-19, 03:03 PM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
From the Epilepsy Society website:
https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/p...y#.XQ0i_YhKhph

"Between 3-30 hertz (flashes per second) are the common rates to trigger seizures but this varies from person to person. While some people are sensitive at frequencies up to 60 hertz, sensitivity under 3 hertz is not common."

Any more artificial goal post moving you want to do?

Also, I don't find a lot of really clear results when I google "hertz" and "bicycle light". The advertised specs tend to be lumens, not hertz, so I don't really know what the normal rate for these strobes are. I'm sure I'm seeing a lot faster than 3 hertz in the wild, but I really can't count much faster than that.
Wow, an Epilepsy thread. Awesome.

Canadian Epilepsy Alliance
[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.5)]Not all flashing lights or visual patterns will trigger a seizure, even in individuals who are photosensitive. The rate of the flashing light,the duration of the flashing, and the intensity of the light all play a part. A flash at a frequency of between 15 and 20 flashes per second is most likely to cause a seizure, whereas very few people are sensitive to a rate of 3 flashes per second.[/color]
So while I understand that some seizures have been reported as low as 3 hertz, as the extreme lower bound, and (possibly) some have been reported as high as 60 hertz as the extreme upper bound; The Epilepsy Alliance plainly states between 15-20 hertz is the most likely.

So following that: According to NASA
Temporal Frequency. The rate of flashing has a powerful influence on the salience of flashing elements. The human eye is most sensitive to frequencies of 4-8 Hz (cycles/second). Very slow and very fast blinking are less attention-demanding than rates near that peak.

The stimulus graphed in b flashes faster (higher f) than the one in a. The stimulus in c has a lower depth of modulation (lower C) than the one in a.

Contrast, Depth-of-Modulation. The change in luminance between the peak and trough of the modulation also has a strong influence on the demand on the users' attention. The graphic element will have maximum salience if it goes from maximum luminance to minimum luminance in a cycle, at a frequency of 4-8 Hz. On the other hand, if the luminance contrast of the data element is low the blinking may be barely noticeable.
I will concede that there is some overlap between the fraction of photosensetive Epileptics at least 2 standard deviations away from normal photosensetive Epileptics and the 4 to 8 hertz that bicycle lights are designed to for maximum attention grabbing ability.

You do realize that the fractions we are dealing with are getting into the 1 in 10's of thousands, right?

No moving goal posts here, just establishing the parameters of the equation for actual risk.
Stats were my favorite math class.
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Old 06-21-19, 03:30 PM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Wow, an Epilepsy thread. Awesome.

Canadian Epilepsy Alliance

So while I understand that some seizures have been reported as low as 3 hertz, as the extreme lower bound, and (possibly) some have been reported as high as 60 hertz as the extreme upper bound; The Epilepsy Alliance plainly states between 15-20 hertz is the most likely.

So following that: According to NASA


I will concede that there is some overlap between the fraction of photosensetive Epileptics at least 2 standard deviations away from normal photosensetive Epileptics and the 4 to 8 hertz that bicycle lights are designed to for maximum attention grabbing ability.

You do realize that the fractions we are dealing with are getting into the 1 in 10's of thousands, right?

No moving goal posts here, just establishing the parameters of the equation for actual risk.
Stats were my favorite math class.
Yeah, I did alright in grad school stats. I already conceded that the risk was low, but my point was any nonzero risk couldn't be justified because there was no benefit to outweigh it. Indeed, strobes increase risk from collision on bike paths. I still can't find light hertz specs-- it totally wouldn't surprise me if they exceeded that 8 hertz rate.
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Old 06-21-19, 03:51 PM
  #81  
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3% of 1.2% is zero. Learned some math today.
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Old 06-21-19, 03:59 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
3% of 1.2% is zero. Learned some math today.
Glad we could help.

On another note:
I've got some Powerball tickets for sale. Care to buy some? Each ticket is a guarenteed winner...just play it 293 million times.
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Old 06-21-19, 04:04 PM
  #83  
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How many hertz do we count when the bike ahead has three strobe lights each running a different pattern? And he has buddies with him doing same. And in sight ahead on trail or on roadway there are a couple more strobes. In that circumstance can anyone see the road ahead at all? I can't.

"I am a good person so if I do it it can't be bad." Not how risk assessment is done.
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Old 06-21-19, 05:04 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
How many hertz do we count when the bike ahead has three strobe lights each running a different pattern? And he has buddies with him doing same. And in sight ahead on trail or on roadway there are a couple more strobes. In that circumstance can anyone see the road ahead at all? I can't.

"I am a good person so if I do it it can't be bad." Not how risk assessment is done.
Considering a single bright flash or being exposed to sunlight has been known to induce a seizure, perhaps the most rational of all possible actions is to shield the Earth from the sun completely. Maybe people should refrain from out door activities to avoid risk of an errant flash in the eyes from a shiny beltbuckle or something to the epileptic. Makes perfect sense, right?

We need to be accommodating to all persons & disabilities, right? They do, afterall, have a right to a risk free existence & we should all respect that.

I'm going home to live in doors right now & never emerge because it has been made clear to me that the errent shine or flash from my steel spokes or shiny chrome rims, or GASP! A light! could pose non-zero risk to the 1/2 of 0.00036 percent of the population I might possibly encounter head on.

It's the least I could do, right?
You have me convinced. You changed my mind. Rational arguments based on statistical probabilities to quantify actual risk is just stupid against the power of "nat-haw" I don't know what I was thinking.

Thanks!

Last edited by base2; 06-21-19 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 06-21-19, 08:52 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Considering a single bright flash or being exposed to sunlight has been known to induce a seizure, perhaps the most rational of all possible actions is to shield the Earth from the sun completely. Maybe people should refrain from out door activities to avoid risk of an errant flash in the eyes from a shiny beltbuckle or something to the epileptic. Makes perfect sense, right?

We need to be accommodating to all persons & disabilities, right? They do, afterall, have a right to a risk free existence & we should all respect that.

I'm going home to live in doors right now & never emerge because it has been made clear to me that the errent shine or flash from my steel spokes or shiny chrome rims, or GASP! A light! could pose non-zero risk to the 1/2 of 0.00036 percent of the population I might possibly encounter head on.

It's the least I could do, right?
You have me convinced. You changed my mind. Rational arguments based on statistical probabilities to quantify actual risk is just stupid against the power of "nat-haw" I don't know what I was thinking.

Thanks!
Wow, brilliantly just ignoring the obvious fact that the use of strobes on a path is itself completely illogical. I get that you'd rather quibble about hertz and the likelihood of seizures because it diverts having to come up with any rational basis for the use of strobes on a 10 foot wide path.

yes a nonzero risk outweighs the benefits of a non-beneficial practice every time. You're basically arguing that people should be allowed to play Russian roulette because so few people are sensitive to the smell of gunpowder.
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Old 06-21-19, 10:19 PM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Wow, brilliantly just ignoring the obvious fact that the use of strobes on a path is itself completely illogical. I get that you'd rather quibble about hertz and the likelihood of seizures because it diverts having to come up with any rational basis for the use of strobes on a 10 foot wide path.

yes a nonzero risk outweighs the benefits of a non-beneficial practice every time. You're basically arguing that people should be allowed to play Russian roulette because so few people are sensitive to the smell of gunpowder.
I'm not saying the use of a strobe on the path isn't stupid & rude. What I am saying is the risk of actual harm is so low so as to be virtually nonexistent.

If every single one of the 5,000,000 residents of the greater Seattle area were to travel on the same point of the bike path at the same time, a single strobe would encounter 900 on-coming photosensetive epilleptics. Of those 900, How many would be receptive to the 4-8 hertz range? About 0.9 or so for 3 standard deviations. Of those 0.9, how many would be receptive that instance? 1 in a hundred? 1 in 10,000 due to a combination of speed/intensity/field of vision/duration? It would take years of this already ridiculous scenario for the odds to play out.

Sorry some people are irritated easily & try to bolster their claim of irritation with a made up "serious sounding" made up data, but the math of actual risk of seizure just doesn't pencil out as credible.

They could just say: "I don't like strobes on the path.The guy with the strobe is a d*ck." AND you know what? I'd agree. It's the bogus epilepsy claim I am taking issue with.

OP Tim: You got your wish...This is not a complaint thread. It's an epilepsy seizure risk thread.

Last edited by base2; 06-26-19 at 06:05 AM.
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Old 06-22-19, 02:53 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
I'm not saying the use of a strobe on the path isn't stupid & rude. What I am saying is the risk of actual harm is so low so as to be virtually nonexistent.

If every single one of the 5,000,000 residents of the greater Seattle area were to travel on the same point of the bike path at the same time, a single strobe would encounter 900 on-coming photosensetive epilleptics. Of those 900, How many would be receptive to the 4-8 hertz range? About 9 or so for 3 standard deviations. Of those 9, how many would be receptive that instance? 1 in a hundred? 1 in 10,000 due to a combination of speed/intensity/field of vision/duration? It would take years of this already ridiculous scenario for the odds to play out.

Sorry some people are irritated easily & try to bolster their claim of irritation with a made up "serious sounding" made up data, but the math of actual risk of seizure just doesn't pencil out as credible.

They could just say: "I don't like strobes on the path.The guy with the strobe is a d*ck." AND you know what? I'd agree. It's the bogus epilepsy claim I am taking issue with.

OP Tim: You got your wish...This is not a complaint thread. It's an epilepsy seizure risk thread.
You could have saved a lot of typing if you'd stated that in the first place because you sure made it look like you were defending bike path usage of strobes.

It's still rational to say that a practice that has no benefit shouldn't be allowed if there's a nonzero risk. Anything done a lot will lead to unlikely outcomes. For example, if you let a mylar helium balloon fly away, the chance of causing a power outage is about zero, yet there are literally hundreds of cases of this happening, including one time during a game at Dodger stadium. Low probability events happen, someone "wins" the lottery.

Looking into this a little , out of curiosity, I've come across claims that flashing red bike taillights have actually induced seizures, apparently the wavelength of red light actually is worse than white.


Last point is probability is a lot more complicated than you are acknowledging -- if millions of people take to using flashing strobes, events that are million to one probabilities will very likely occur somewhere. Your math may work at the individual level, but at the policy level, small risks of potentially catastrophic consequences need to be taken seriously.
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Old 06-22-19, 02:49 PM
  #88  
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should an epileptic be riding a bike? sounds kinda risky.

my mom taught me not to stare at the sun.

evidence shows that an intermittent flashing light front and rear makes you many times more visible to other humans, especially the ones driving cars.

I didnt know it was so devastating to some people, I'll turn mine off for the couple miles I use the trails to connect my road routes.
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Old 06-22-19, 06:28 PM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by superpletch View Post
should an epileptic be riding a bike? sounds kinda risky.

my mom taught me not to stare at the sun.

evidence shows that an intermittent flashing light front and rear makes you many times more visible to other humans, especially the ones driving cars.

I didnt know it was so devastating to some people, I'll turn mine off for the couple miles I use the trails to connect my road routes.
You may be more visible, but it makes it difficult or impossible for drivers to judge your speed and position. This is also shown by evidence. There's no evidence strobes actually make you safer, and reason to believe it makes you less safe.
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Old 06-22-19, 08:06 PM
  #90  
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So I rode a long section of the Silver Comet Trail here in suburban Atlanta today including the section of trail where I saw the obscenely bright strobe which prompted this thread.

Every single strobe I saw was reasonable - bright enough to be seen but not bright enough to blind. I was not annoyed or suffered no discomfort at all. Everything was chill (except the pace!)

The strobe which prompted this thread was super bright. I would estimate at least 500 lumens, probably way more. The riders I were pretty angry. One wanted to turn around give the rider a piece of his mind.

So I think there are reasonable strobes and strobes which cross the line and are dangerous. I hope no one uses the latter.


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Last edited by TimothyH; 06-22-19 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 06-23-19, 03:33 AM
  #91  
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FWIW, I find some white, forward facing strobes to be unnecessarily blinding; annoying at a minimum, be it on the road or MUT - seems like it would also be annoying for the owner. I use a forward facing white light so I can see where I am going as much as letting others know of my presence. Itís not a disco...
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Old 06-23-19, 07:26 AM
  #92  
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I apologize if these points have been raised already; I've read only abou 2/3 of the responses here.

1) If, say, the path is N-S, and a road is encountered, isn't the road likely to be E-W? If so, how does a strobe on the N_S axis provide significant visibility? Roads intersecting a MUP ... not a good argument form a strobe on the MUP.

2) IMO, if you want people to notice you on a MUP, why not use a bell? If you use a strobe, you should have enough anecdotal evidence from this thread to conclude that it's painful for a goodly portion of the people you approach - and it's abundantly clear that a strobe inhibits the ability to judge distance. It provides a lot less safety for the strobers than they realize.

3) The next time I encounter some schmuck usinga strobe that bothers me, I think I'll start weaving on the path and perhaps stopping and blocking the path.
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Old 06-23-19, 07:50 AM
  #93  
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There's no good reason for strobes on a MUP, users of such fall into the following categories:

1. Was riding on the road and forgot to turn off when they got on the MUP
2. Use strobes 24/7 as a magic talisman to ward off any and all bad things that can happen to cyclists
3. "Look at me" pea-cocking

Users who should have strobes on the MUP:

1. Small children
2. Dogs
3. Pedestrians practicing drunkard's walk interpretive locomotion
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Old 06-23-19, 06:24 PM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
There's no good reason for strobes on a MUP, users of such fall into the following categories:

1. Was riding on the road and forgot to turn off when they got on the MUP
2. Use strobes 24/7 as a magic talisman to ward off any and all bad things that can happen to cyclists
3. "Look at me" pea-cocking
4. Suckers for the "latest technology" and/ or sales pitches.
5. People who have never actually looked at their bike from the front with the strobe on.
6. People who have no understanding of optics.
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Old 06-24-19, 11:27 AM
  #95  
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I run a flashing LED on the front of mine when riding at all times. Not a high-intensity strobe, but a white light that blinks on and off because blinking will be seen where a steady light will be missed. It has a steady on mode as well, but it's only barely bright enough for riding at night... It doesn't really illuminate the road very much for me.

I do use it on the MUP that crosses roads continually here. The flashing isn't for others on the MUP, it's for the cars at the crossings. And I keep the axis of the light pointed at or below waist level, so it shouldn't be hitting anyone directly in the eyes.
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Old 06-24-19, 11:51 AM
  #96  
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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.
I 100% agree and I have no problem with oncoming lights. I simple don't look at them. I use a strobe and will continue to do so. Maybe I can wake up a few morons riding 3 abreast discussing who knows what.
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Old 06-24-19, 12:13 PM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by Snowflake6 View Post
I run a flashing LED on the front of mine when riding at all times. Not a high-intensity strobe, but a white light that blinks on and off because blinking will be seen where a steady light will be missed. It has a steady on mode as well, but it's only barely bright enough for riding at night... It doesn't really illuminate the road very much for me.

I do use it on the MUP that crosses roads continually here. The flashing isn't for others on the MUP, it's for the cars at the crossings. And I keep the axis of the light pointed at or below waist level, so it shouldn't be hitting anyone directly in the eyes.
I use a similar low powered flashing LED whenever I ride - streets or MUP. It is aimed low, and I have walked 60 - 70 ft away from the bike to check that it is visible but not blinding in any way. The streets are populated by the normal mix of unconscious drivers, and the trails I ride are wooded, winding and dark in places. I want to be seen, but not be a danger, so the light will remain on when I ride.

I also own a couple of the "tactical" super bright LED flashlights that have the strobe option. Their advertising stresses it as a self-defense item that can be used to blind or disorient the attacker. Ironically, they also come with a handlebar mount and are also sold as bike headlights! These are probably the type of lights that are drawing the complaints. As a night headlight they would probably be great, but as a daytime strobe**********?? I keep one in the car and one in my nightstand - not on the bike.
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Old 06-24-19, 05:19 PM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Day or night, high powered strobes are simply not needed on the rail trail out in the middle of nowhere.

You mean, front or rear?

I find the rears pretty darn irritating...
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Old 06-24-19, 05:30 PM
  #99  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
.... I could see them a half mile away in broad daylight.
Then the lights are doing their job. I'd never used a flashing light in broad daylight - until I was almost run over in broad daylight, crossing on the green, in the crosswalk, with my five year old behind me on the trail a bike.

Since then, I run a flasher, day and night, from when I get on the bike until I get home. I've seen plenty of flashing lights coming towards me, never had trouble staying on the trail, day or night. If you ride exclusively on trail that NEVER intersect with motorized traffic, you might have a complaint, but that is the situation nowhere that I ride. Flashing lights catch drivers attention. Riders in broad daylight might as well be invisible. And that goes for approaching riders on a MUP as well. I appreciate seeing approaching riders from farther away.
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Old 06-24-19, 07:14 PM
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livedarklions
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Originally Posted by loky1179 View Post
Then the lights are doing their job. I'd never used a flashing light in broad daylight - until I was almost run over in broad daylight, crossing on the green, in the crosswalk, with my five year old behind me on the trail a bike.

Since then, I run a flasher, day and night, from when I get on the bike until I get home. I've seen plenty of flashing lights coming towards me, never had trouble staying on the trail, day or night. If you ride exclusively on trail that NEVER intersect with motorized traffic, you might have a complaint, but that is the situation nowhere that I ride. Flashing lights catch drivers attention. Riders in broad daylight might as well be invisible. And that goes for approaching riders on a MUP as well. I appreciate seeing approaching riders from farther away.
If their job is to give me enough time to think up something nasty to say to you to thank you for blinding me, then it's doing its job. You are not made safer by my seeing your light at a half mile, and if your light is bright enough to see at that distance, you are probably actually making it harder to see your kid.

Look up the inverse square law to get some idea of how bright a light that can be seen at a half mile in broad daylight is when it gets 10-50 feet in front of you.


If someone is going to run a red light to roll over a crosswalk, do you really think a flashing strobe is going to stop them? How would that even work? It's pointing the wrong way.
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