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Bike lighting

Old 08-03-22, 06:21 PM
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Azriel
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Bike lighting

is a light a must for night riding safety?
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Old 08-04-22, 08:38 AM
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There are varying levels of safety.

At the low end are black-clad, unlit, non-reflective 'bike ninjas' darting in unexpected ways through the shadows.

At the high end are highly visible riders who employ be-seen clothing, strategically placed reflectors, reflective tape and lights as well as headlights lights to see the road and obstacles by.
(I also use an air horn to be heard.)

Where your comfort zone on the spectrum lies depends on how and where you ride and much risk you feel comfortable with.

I'll just mention that many cities and municipalities require bike lighting at night, and the more you ride without it, the greter your chances of being pulled over, cited and fined.
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Old 08-04-22, 09:43 AM
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Headlights powerful enough for you to see the potholes and debris at night are a good idea. I like a solid non flashing taillight for night use. I have a separate taillight that is very bright and flashes for daylight visibility. I believe it is the law in all or most of the 50 states that you have a headlight and a reflector.
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Old 08-06-22, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Azriel View Post
is a light a must for night riding safety?
Unless you are only biking slowly on brightly lit path, some measure of lighting is essential.
For less than $50, I have very bright front and rear blinking LED lights + helmet mounted front beam and rear blinking red light. Modern rechargeable LED lights are so cheap and bright it's a no-brainer.
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Old 08-06-22, 09:15 AM
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Two things consider with headlights, the small head lights will tell others on the road something is there, brighter lights will let you see what is up ahead on the road. Where are you riding? I ride with a group that will do gravel roads at night and on a dirt rail\trail, there are no street lights on the routes. Bright lights are needed to see where we are going and to alert others of your presence.

When on the road I always use a front facing small flashing white light and two tail lights; a Varia radar\light and a helmet mounted light. When riding at night, the forward light is in the 800 to 1,200 lumen range and on solid.

The answer to your question is yes.
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Old 08-06-22, 04:36 PM
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The trolls have been on a mission around here lately.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:39 AM
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Troll or not, the answer is yes.

Case in point: when I was younger, poorer, and less wise, I was riding in twilight with no lights, on a rural road. From out of nowhere, an ATV with no lights on came blasting across the road without slowing, let alone stopping to check for traffic. Missed my rear wheel by an inch or two I'd guess. If I had a headlight, the kid might have seen me and stopped before crossing the road.
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Old 08-08-22, 12:07 PM
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If you are in the woods or fields and off the road, then do what you want. Overall visibility is better with no lights and just the background light from moon, stars and other things. However if you are on the road, then do what is required by your state or local jurisdiction.
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Old 08-09-22, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
The trolls have been on a mission around here lately.

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Old 08-10-22, 06:35 PM
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I'm wondering what people think about this: Recently, during a daytime ride on a rural hiker/biker trail, my group was scolded twice for riding with blinking headlights. In each case, we were warned that blinking lights could cause seizures in people with epilepsy. Later, I did some research, and it seems that the estimated number of people in the US with photosensitive epilepsy is approximately 30,000. Thus, in a country of 330 million people, it seems that the likelihood of encountering a person with photosensitive epilepsy is pretty slim. I prefer a blinking headlight for an all-day ride because the battery lasts longer.

Any thoughts on prevailing attitudes towards the use of blinking lights in respect to risks to people with photosensitive epilepsy?

Thanks.
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Old 08-10-22, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jgrosser View Post
I'm wondering what people think about this: Recently, during a daytime ride on a rural hiker/biker trail, my group was scolded twice for riding with blinking headlights. In each case, we were warned that blinking lights could cause seizures in people with epilepsy. Later, I did some research, and it seems that the estimated number of people in the US with photosensitive epilepsy is approximately 30,000. Thus, in a country of 330 million people, it seems that the likelihood of encountering a person with photosensitive epilepsy is pretty slim. I prefer a blinking headlight for an all-day ride because the battery lasts longer.

Any thoughts on prevailing attitudes towards the use of blinking lights in respect to risks to people with photosensitive epilepsy?

Thanks.
Go ahead and use what makes you feel comfortable. Anti-vaxxers were opposed to the Covid vaccines eventhough the side effects have a lot lower risk than getting the same side effects from covid.

If blinking lights are a real problem, someone would be working in making them illegal. Until then, use them if you want.
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Old 08-11-22, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by jgrosser View Post
I'm wondering what people think about this: Recently, during a daytime ride on a rural hiker/biker trail, my group was scolded twice for riding with blinking headlights. In each case, we were warned that blinking lights could cause seizures in people with epilepsy. Later, I did some research, and it seems that the estimated number of people in the US with photosensitive epilepsy is approximately 30,000. Thus, in a country of 330 million people, it seems that the likelihood of encountering a person with photosensitive epilepsy is pretty slim. I prefer a blinking headlight for an all-day ride because the battery lasts longer.

Any thoughts on prevailing attitudes towards the use of blinking lights in respect to risks to people with photosensitive epilepsy?

Thanks.

OK, so I think the epilepsy thing is probably far-fetched, but I think the far more obvious problem with blinking lights on paths is that the blinking is unnecessary and, if bright and fast enough, actually painful and disorienting for the person going the other way on the path. If people are complaining, I'd suggest you either turn off the blinking, reduce the brightness, or decrease the flash rate. I have had many encounters with people on paths whose lights were essentially blinding me, and there's no way in the world that wasn't making everyone around us including ourselves less safe.
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Old 08-11-22, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Go ahead and use what makes you feel comfortable. Anti-vaxxers were opposed to the Covid vaccines eventhough the side effects have a lot lower risk than getting the same side effects from covid.

If blinking lights are a real problem, someone would be working in making them illegal. Until then, use them if you want.

Blinking lights on paths are often quite dangerous, definitely annoying, and on some paths I have been on, explicitly banned.

Your comparison to anti-vax is total crap. Our pupils are not evolved to be able to contract and dilate fast enough to cope with strobing at close range, and it serves absolutely no purpose on paths where the speeds are too slow for this to make any sense whatsoever, but high enough for cyclists to crash into each other if they can't really see the oncoming cyclist because the glare is blinding them.
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Old 08-11-22, 02:46 PM
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Typically the blinking mode serves well when adjusted down enough & used in: the fog, heavy traffic areas during the day, paths used during the day with a lot of sharp bends. When the blink mode is being used when the path is pretty straight & clear, with it's flash aimed at the face of others, I just assume the rider has the IQ of a box of rocks & soils themselves often for no apparent reason.
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Old 08-12-22, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
Typically the blinking mode serves well when adjusted down enough & used in: the fog, heavy traffic areas during the day, paths used during the day with a lot of sharp bends. When the blink mode is being used when the path is pretty straight & clear, with it's flash aimed at the face of others, I just assume the rider has the IQ of a box of rocks & soils themselves often for no apparent reason.

It's really a matter of three factors-the idiotic use is fast flash, extremely bright and aimed directly forward without angling down. It's absolutely blinding and forces the oncoming rider to turn their head away as they close the distance. I almost hit a kid on a bike because his father was riding next to him with one of those damn lights. He made the kid essentially invisible.
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Old 08-12-22, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Azriel View Post
is a light a must for night riding safety?
I knew a free climber who climbed w/o a rope until he didn't.

You might not die. You might not hit a pothole and do an endo breaking a lot of bones.

Those who play stupid games should be entitled the freedom to collect their prize.
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Old 08-12-22, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jgrosser View Post
Any thoughts on prevailing attitudes towards the use of blinking lights in respect to risks to people with photosensitive epilepsy?
IMHO typical flashing bicycle headlight doesn't seem likely to induce a seizure. No more so than any of the flashing or strobe lights used on myriad vehicles - police/fire/ambulance/tow/roadcrew/etc.

Here's an interesting article: https://www.brainfacts.org/diseases-...eizures-012821

Seems the most troublesome frequency range is 10-20 flashes per second and must cover enough of the retina - neither of which would seem to be an issue with an oncoming bicycle headlight.

All that said, I don't think a bright flash (or really any light) is needed on a rural hiker/biker trail.

Last edited by gpburdell; 08-12-22 at 06:46 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-15-22, 07:04 AM
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Thanks for all the responses. Blinking lights are permitted under the law in the state in question. The "Bicycle Driver's Manual" published by the state's Department of Transportation states: "Operators of pedalcycles may supplement the required front lamp with a white flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device to enhance their visibility to other traffic and with a lamp emitting a red flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear."

In my case, I keep my light pointed down, so the focus is around 7-8 feet in front of my front wheel. The comments were not directed at me, so perhaps my light settings are sufficient already.
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Old 08-23-22, 01:29 PM
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Blinking lights will disrupt saccadic scanning and make you substantially more visible by their sheer disruptive effect.
Sorry if it annoys
It is supposed to.
pointing it so it's not in somebody's eyes is simple courtesy.
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Old 10-09-22, 05:22 AM
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I am not even sure why this is a question. Lights at night are a legal requirement and not just for "safety".
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Old 10-09-22, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by blue192 View Post
I am not even sure why this is a question. Lights at night are a legal requirement and not just for "safety".
To be clear, the situation I described occurred during daytime on a bike path, not a road. Also, the issue was not lights vs no lights, but rather blinking lights vs steady lights.
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Old 10-13-22, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Azriel View Post
is a light a must for night riding safety?
I think so. I have two headlights on my bike and one on my helmet. Also have four tail lights. All are battery. One time, at night, in the rain, all three of my headlights died. The spare rechargeable AA batteries for one of my headlights were even dead. I made it home safely, but it was a bit "exhilarating".

I've contemplated a hub light, but now I just check my lights after I ride so I don't leave a dead light (or three) on the bike.
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Old 10-18-22, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Azriel View Post
is a light a must for night riding safety?
Only if you want to see where you are going, and to be seen!
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Old 10-27-22, 07:28 PM
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Lights are a must, unless there's a 0% chance you'll run across drivers or other cyclists on your route.

But there are some other considerations to take into account, aside from just having lights. Many modern bike lights are over-powered and don't have cutoffs like car headlamps do, and these can easily blind oncoming bike traffic on the sort of multi-use trails I commute on, especially if they're helmet-mounted. I'd highly recommend StVZO-compliant lights if you're riding anywhere near other cyclists, to avoid blinding them. I use StVZO dynamo-powered lights on my commute-to-work bike, and on my cheap do-errands-around-town bike I use these: https://www.walmart.com/ip/MEIDI-Bic...ight/704688630
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Old 10-31-22, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kengrubb View Post
I think so. I have two headlights on my bike and one on my helmet. Also have four tail lights. All are battery. One time, at night, in the rain, all three of my headlights died. The spare rechargeable AA batteries for one of my headlights were even dead. I made it home safely, but it was a bit "exhilarating".

I've contemplated a hub light, but now I just check my lights after I ride so I don't leave a dead light (or three) on the bike.
LOL sorry this happened to you. It has happened to me too... usually because I thought I had more of a light charge then I did.

I have a similar set up to yours, with multiple lights, due to commuting in an area with fast dense MV traffic. (and by "dense" I mean both the drivers and the amount of traffic. )

I have an old generator light left over from many builds ago... I keep it on the bike as a very redundant back up light. I can always press it into use if the better battery lights fail.
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