Your taillight is too bright…

30 12 2010

Photo: Cool Tools...

The US Military has developed weapons based on the concept that ultra bright lights can temporarily disable the target’s central nervous system incapacitating them.  It appears that a number of bike light companies are using a similar approach to tail light technology.

Let me say categorically if your belief is the more light you are pumping out the back of your bike the safer you are – you’re wrong.  Drivers drunk and/or distracted crash into police cruisers with their flashers going regularly enough that some researchers hypothesize that bright lights cause you to look at them and you steer where you are looking:

“The “moth-effect” is a myth in one sense and reality in another. The idea that drivers may steer off the road when they fixate flashing lights is likely correct, but they are not drawn to the lights like moths to a flame. Rather, they inadvertently steer rightward, which may or may not take them into collision with the roadside vehicle. Even normal, alert drivers in daylight conditions may steer in the direction of eye position during periods of intense fixation. The cause is likely error in judging heading under eccentric fixation when optic flow cues are minimal and when attentional focus prevents sensing of the need to correct the error. Although bright lights and fascination are not required, of course, it is impossible to rule out these factors in some accidents.”

~85% of car bike collisions are from cars turning or crossing the cyclist’s path while only 10% involve a car overtaking a bike and hitting it from the rear.  So you should be far more worried about cars coming the other way than from the rear.

I’m not suggesting you don’t use a rear light or that it should be feeble.  What I am saying is buying the brightest light possible and shinning it into the eyes of drivers and cyclists approaching from the rear is not smart and is not going to increase your safety.  It may even decrease your safety as you are impairing their vision and ability to operate their vehicle most profoundly as they are about to pass you – a time when you want people in cars to be at 100% performance.

How do you know if you are doing something wrong?  Swap bikes with a friend and ride behind him at varying distances on a dark MUP or dark street.   Note how you felt as you were exposed to the light from the back of your bike.  Try the same thing, but this time in a car on a dark road and then a busier road with more lights.  Again note how visible your bike was and how the lights you are using felt from that perspective.

How to be safe without burning out other folk’s retinas:

  1. ride predictably…cars expect cyclists to be in certain places on the road and to behave in certain ways.  That’s where a driver is looking for you.  The more predictable you are the easier it is for you to be spotted and avoided.
  2. ride intelligently…every route is different and has different pros and cons.  Your most efficient safe commute in normal conditions may be dangerous when it’s foggy due to the many business lights/signs that could mask your bike’s lights.  It might be better to take a longer slower route on side streets that day and accept the delay it will cause.
  3. signal effectively…a black glove on a black jacket may not be an effective way to signal the fact you want to turn left.  Be aware of what you are wearing and what you look like to other road users.  When in doubt wait until the road is clear before turning or changing lanes.
  4. use a rearview mirror…if getting hit from behind concerns you than keep an eye on what’s to the rear.  If you see a car swerving like the operator is drunk just get off the road entirely until they are gone.
  5. wear reflective material…it’s effective and cheap.  Ankle bands and wrist bands are awesome for low cost visibility and turn signalling.  A reflective vest is an easy way to amp up your visibility to cars without needing batteries or causing vision issues.
  6. use two lower power lights vs. one ultra powerful light…LEDs have a small window of very bright light output.  As you move sideways or up/down away from this zone the light power fades.  Two light allows you to aim at different spots [20' away and 100' away or aimed slightly left and right] giving you more chance to be seen but not putting excessive light into any one area behind you.  Two lights also mean a light failure or low battery doesn’t turn you into a totally black Road Ninja.
  7. Set your lights to solid mode so they aren’t as dazzling.
  8. Be considerate.  If you do use a powerful rear light on rapid flash mode be ready and willing to change modes while riding if you see another cyclist or driver following you in a situation you know they’ve already spotted you.

Just like wearing a helmet doesn’t mean you’ll be safe on your bike – using the most powerful light you can get your hands on and assuming it will mean you are safe on the roads at night is a mistake.  By all means use a bright tail light [and wear a helmet], but make it part of a bigger plan for night time safety not your only line of defense.  And when you are holding that Dinotte tail light in your hands thinking how safe you’ll be when you turn it on and aim it into the eyes of over taking drivers consider for a moment that it’s a weapon and try approaching your bike from the rear on a dark street/MUP.  If you can’t see anything, but a huge red spot for 20-30seconds afterwards maybe consider that your light may actually impair your safety or someone else’s as that dazzled driver passes you at 55mph.

Planet Bike Blinky 7...

PS – if you have any older LED tail lights like this Blinky 7 from Planet Bike consider putting them back into service.  Instead of one uber bright LED that focuses all it’s light in one intense spot they use a bunch of bright, but lower power LEDs that push out light over a wider area.  When you consider a wider viewing angler they may even be more visible than their brighter siblings.  I’ll be using one of these on my rando rig along with a bunch of reflective material.  It will be more than bright enough [on solid mode] to be seen on the rural roads/highways typical of Canadian brevet routes, but not as deadly on the eyes of randonneurs that may be following me for several hours.


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35 responses

30 12 2010
mike

great series of posts vik! and good pics too.
you need to mr. roboto in that reflective garb!

30 12 2010
Andrew Priest

Hi

Your comments about cyclists being hit from behind does not match actual crash data as captured here in Australia … Maybe Australian’s driver differently …. For those interested the study was published by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in 2006 and is titled, “Deaths of Cyclists due to Road Accidents.” It can be downloaded here.

Regards
Andrew

30 12 2010
Micheal Blue

Vik, you make some very good points. At the same time I would add to it: horses for courses. I used to have (and still have) the Planet Bike Blinky light.
Then during one twilight commute in fairly dense fog I could see how useless it was. Heavy rain, or snowfall are some other situation when these cheap lights are useless. So I bought Dinotte 400R light. Normally I operate it on low power, but when the weather goes nuts I know it has enough juice to cut through whatever hangs in the air. Acutally, even on a clear day during twilight one needs a good-power light. It’s not dark enough to see the cheap LED lights, and not light enough to be seen without lights safely. I also use reflective stuff for added visibility. Probably even worse than high-power rear lights, or as bad, are flashing lights. Some bikers even have a good number of them blinking differently. Flashing lights are not good for the nervous system (nature naturally doesn’t produce flashing lights like that), and could give someone a headache or an epileptic seizure.
Using a rearview mirror is good (and I have one), but catching a driver that can run over you in it is not very likely. Cycling mirrors are small, and you have to watch the road most of the time, not the mirror. Cycling mirrors are good for giving you an idea what’s behind you, but not so much for pinpointing stupid drivers, unless they drive way erratically.
Hey, if one has a really bright rear light, that would make drivers look away from your bike. So if they follow their eyes, they would actually give you a good space (that was a joke) :-).

30 12 2010
thelazyrando

@Andrew – that link doesn’t work…I’d like to read the info if you can fix it?

@Micheal – rapidly blinking bright lights are tough on the eyes for sure. My goal is not to tell you or anyone what to use for being visible at night, but to get people thinking about the topic and making some intelligent decisions that consider something other than how many lumens we are cranking out. Naturally ever situation is different and requires a different response.

30 12 2010
30 12 2010
thelazyrando

@Andrew I had a look at that study and here are some thoughts:

– they only looked at accidents involving deaths
– they note getting hit from behind is more likely in rural areas
– they North American stats I posted show the same thing which makes sense as there are very few opportunities to turn in front of a bike on a long rural road vs. downtown
– cycling in the country in Canada/USA is not nearly as common as cycling in the city where there are lots of opportunities to have a car turn in front of you
– looking at these factors seems to explain the different results

The solution is still IMO not adding more and more light out the back regardless of how you assess the risk.

30 12 2010
Memo

Thanks for the great posts Vik,

I love my PB Blinky (saddly lost one the other day) and on Oregon’s drearier days, I use it in combination with a half watt. Still, on most occasions it is all I need.

30 12 2010
Marcy

Vik,
Thanks for the informative and thought provoking series of posts. I agree with Michael Blue about reflective material potentially being as hard on the eyes as lights that are excessively bright. However, the difference with reflective material is that, usually, you just get a quick flash of brightness when your own light hits it just right for a moment. I have nearly been driven off of a MUP when blinding bright lights are coming at me. Now if we could just achieve a happy medium between the overly lit and the unlit folks on the trails and dark roads. Ride Happy!

30 12 2010
Jolly

I have my rear Dinotte angled down and not flashing and a much less powerful blinky that won’t blind. The Dinotte lets the drivers know where I am on the road. When I am driving a car, a blinking light screws up my depth perception and I can’t tell where the bike is exactly.
Front lights: When driving I can’t tell if that pin point white light is someone’s porch light or a bike coming toward me. I use one on my helmet as well as the handlebar so they are two vertical and is more obviously a bike. The helmet light doesn’t need to be that bright. I am interested in trying the ones from Germany that you have written about.
I use Monkey Electrics in the spokes so everyone can see me from the side. That has stopped two cars in their tracks who were about to turn into me.

30 12 2010
Encontrando el brillo adecuado. | Vallarta en Bici

[...] Últimamente, ha publicado muchos artículos sobre la luz en la bicicleta con el punto de que es posible tener mucha luz, pero lo más correcto sería si la luz se concentra en vez de difuminarse por todas partes. Un ejemplo es su publicación del 12 de diciembre de este año TheLazyRando.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/focused-lights/. [...]

30 12 2010
Doug

Excellent series of posts. Thanks for putting them together.

30 12 2010
Chris Emerson

Hey Vik, thanks for the reply the other day.

In addition to visibility from a wider angle as you suggest I wonder if another possible benefit of having two rear lights could be that motorists approaching from behind the cyclist might be able to perceive distance better. I say this because of a marketing spiel I read about the B&M Toplight Line Plus which is a tail light with a long horizontal axis which is supposed to assist with depth perception. Interestingly, all the German dynamo lights I have seen are steady, I don’t think flashing lights are permitted there.

As I mentioned the other day I have the Supernova front light, and I also have their steady, wired tail light. It is different to some of the other brands in that it uses the temporary storage in the headlight for its stand light function rather than having its own storage. This might be reflected in its size, as it is very small. Anyway, after reading about the B&M Toplight Line Plus I have been considering wiring up two Supernova tail lights (at a slightly splayed angle as you suggest). My concern is that the two tail lights might be too draining for the stand light function to perform adequately or adversely affect the system in some other way. If I end up getting another Supernova tail light for another bike anyway I might at least try out this configuration.

31 12 2010
Vik

@Chris – I think two bright lights, say 50% as powerful at the mega bright 1W rear LEDS being sold now would be a better option than a single 1W. You could mount them in different spots [one high one low] you could aim them at different points [up/down & left/right] as well if one stops working, falls off, etc…you’ve still got a light back there.

I don’t think brighter lights correlate with higher safety beyond some reasonable point. I have not data to prove this – just my gut feeling.

1 01 2011
VeloBusDriver

I’ve been a fan of Dinotte for a while and have progressively ramped up my lighting armaments using their “weapons”. That said, I have become acutely aware of how blinding my lights can be.

Based on experiences I’ve had on the road and what I’ve read here my 2011 lighting scheme will be:

. 600L on low/medium most of the time (High for speedy descents)
. 140 Taillight on medium aimed slightly down
(Doesn’t point directly into drivers’ eyes and lights up the road a bit)
. PB Super Flash at different height (maybe flashing)
. LOTS more reflective gear including ankle straps.

Thanks for putting these posts together. They’ve given me a lot to think about.

1 01 2011
The [not so] Lazy Randonneur on bike lighting « Velobusdriver's Blog

[...] Move the mount for my 2nd taillight, a Planet Bike Super Flash, to a lower position on the bike [...]

1 01 2011
John

I have a switch built into the stem of my upright bike that allows me to toggle between full brightness and about a 75% reduced setting for both the headlight and the tail light. It is useful to avoid blinding oncoming cyclists, but I never thought about using it to modulate my tail light output.

http://tinyurl.com/349ewqn

1 01 2011
PaulM

Agree 100% about ankle bands. as they’re low they get picked up by low beam first, and the movement pattern shouts ‘BIKE’. Must use a wrist one too. Just a thought from a car driver who told me he suggested flashing rear lights because a steady could look just like a motorcycle at a great distance. Also in urban situations have many light source, but less flashing ones (generally). Maybe a case for a lower powered flasher backup ?

1 01 2011
GrasB

“Oi, Mate!” as a car pulls along side “At least someone knows about decent lights. You’re the first cyclist I’ve seen like proper down the road. Take care!”.

He was talking about the centre piece of my rear light setup; a Dinnote 300R. At that time the only rear light I had on & at full power. You see it was thick fog, I had worked out on a quick lean the bike against a tree & walk back test that the other lights were pointless. The driver had also noticed the same thing, even though every cyclist I passed had a rear light you simply couldn’t see them at a decent distance.

I’d recommend anyone who lives in an area where fog & mist are a possibility having at least 1 high-powered LED rear light. But just as you should take care with a rear fog light in a car these sorts of lights should only be used at full power when the conditions demand it.

2 01 2011
Kim

I have been using the Dinotte 400L road ride experience for a couple of years without problems. I do have both lights angled down to illuminate the road. I find the rear light to be very effective in daylight, I get far more space when it is turned on…

2 01 2011
thelazyrando

@Kim – I’ve never had any problems using my Dinottes either. Not because they aren’t blinding, but because they don’t cause the cyclist using them any issues [for the most part]. It’s easy to overlook the impact they are having on other road/MUP users.

3 01 2011
Paco

Blaming the gun, not the trigger man. Molehill meet mountain.

A Dinotte 140 is fine and good cager defense. Of course, that depends on how it’s used. I aim mine down so that it makes a gianormous red spot on the pavement just behind my rear tire and slightly to left (car) side of the bike. It illuminates 1/4 of my rear wheel from the side as well in this orientation.

As my tests confirm, a very tiny bit of the spill light from the Dinotte actually hits a driver’s eye–much less than the PlaneBike SuperFlash that sits right next to it.

The real piece missing with most riders around here is reflective material. My bike bag, helmet, and bike frame is covered with the stuff. I also wear Illuminite clothing at night. One can assume if one is riding at night, motor vehicles will have their lights on and passive visibility strategies will be effective.

If a given driver is motoring about at night sans lights, well, there’re bigger issues involved…

So my strategy, road tested now for 25 years of commuting 40km a day, is the lights say “Hey! Something’s over here!” and the reflective material says, “Note the shape of the reflecting object–it’s a friggin’ bike!”

I think the argument for “target fixation” is specious.

4 01 2011
That light is spot on « 42 Bikes

[...] Note on the back I ride with two Cateye TL-LD1100 lights. I have followed Jane when using these to check the brightness and so I tune which I have on according to whether I am on or off road as well as traffic & weather conditions. I think these pass Vik’s tests. [...]

5 01 2011
A tail that sheds some more light on lights….. «

[...] Your tail light is too bright! [...]

7 01 2011
thelazyrando

@Paco – “I think the argument for “target fixation” is specious.”

No more specious than the belief that adding more and more powerful lights to the back of your bike makes you safer at night.

14 01 2011
Mark

I’ve been using bright tail lights (first Nite Rider and then Dinotte) on all my bikes for a number of years, and based on what I’ve seen first hand, extremely bright rear lights dramatically lessen near misses by cars and other risks out on the road–BUT the lights need to be used correctly, as follows:

1. Dinottes work wonderfully during DAYLIGHT hours in flashing mode. I’ve been approached by motorists quite a few times with the comment (during the day) that my DAYLIGHT-VISIBLE flashing rear tail light gave the driver extremely long distance notice that a bicycle was ahead–something that drivers seem to like. The other advantage is that the flashing pattern can catch the attention of distracted drivers, whether because they’re texting or something else. The bottom line is that the flashing mode DURING THE DAY is invaluable from a safety standpoint.

2. During the night, Dinottes need to be used in steady on mode. They are simply WAY too blinding in flashing mode for night time use.

For anyone who hasn’t used a daylight-visible rear tail light, it may be hard to believe just how much a difference that rear light makes in terms of the riding experience. Near misses go away; drivers which honk no longer happen; distracted drivers are less an issue, etc. All in all, it simply makes the riding experience on a daily basis more pleasant, not to mention more safe. I would rate a Dinotte tail light right up there with a rear view mirror as being arguably the most important safety device in bicycling–considerably more valuable than a helmet.

15 01 2011
thelazyrando

@Mark – it really depends where you live & ride…I don’t use a tailight of any kind in the day and I wear dark clothing. I never have near misses with cars nor any honking or problems. Having said that I don’t disagree with your comments…I’m sure there are places I would feel the same way….I just don’t experience those conditions.

17 01 2011
diesel_dad

I appreciate all the great ideas. I have been commuting to work in Victoria every working day for 4 years now in all kinds of weather. My feedback is:

1). In daylight — all bets are off and you might as well use as much firepower as you have, esp. in bright daylight. I have a Dinotte 140R that I will use in blinking mode and it seems to get attention. In daylight, I will also use a Dinotte headlight (800R) in blinking mode for the same reason. Never a complaint and many compliments from all types of road users.

2). At night — never use a powerful headlight in blinking mode (esp. not on a dark trail or MUP) because it will totally blind oncoming cyclists. This is my top peeve. At twilight — headlights on continuously. Even a PB 1/2 watt is blinding when strobing at night.

3). At night — everyone should have some reflective material, esp. pedestrians and runners. I have come very close to hitting runners who were saved only by a small patch of reflective material on their shoes. Cyclists need both but IMHO, peds need reflectivity more than flashlights.

4). At night — I have never been bothered by blinking taillights except for the Dinotte, which I almost never see on other bikes, I am sure due to cost. The PB Superflash does not bother me in the least. I would recommend that people use a taillight on the helmet as well as the back of the bike. It lends dimensions to the object and makes it more obvious that you are seeing a cyclist. I use the PB Blinky 3H on the helmet (since it stays level and others do not) and a PDW Radbot on the back of my rack. I almost never use the Dinotte 140R at night since it is a bit overwhelming but if I do use it at night, its only in the rain riding on busy roads.

5). Rain changes everything — in rain or fog, lights need to be much brighter to see or be seen to the same extent. My experience would say at least twice as bright. In fog, a helmet light is less useful since the light just illuminates the fog.

6). I totally agree with the concept of two lights on low being better than one light on high. Esp, if you can mount one light on the helmet and one on the bars. A helmet light is much more useful in many ways since it can be pointed in the direction of hazards (i.e., motorist on side street).

7). Aim the lights properly. Lights should be aimed down at the road and to the right so as to not blink oncoming traffic. Just like a car headlight.

Hopefully the word will get around to all of the ninjas of the night and overzealous with their blinking headlights at night.

31 01 2011
Richard

I ride a Maxarya CLWB. How interesting to see a photo of that planet bike blinky 7. I switched to it because most of the other ones were so bright I thought they would be annoying to drivers. I only use them(two in back) for the rare time I end up riding in twilight. I only ride on very low traffic side streets, am fortunate to have these on my bike routes. I have one red and yellow safety triangle in back. I used to have one on each side up front by the handlebars and they definitely made me quite visable, but they were SO visable that they looked quite dorky and and drew way more attention to myself than I wanted. And there is the problem…the more reflective material and lights one uses for that rare time when they may be needed the more silly they look for the rest of the time. Makes me think of a walker I see in my neighborhood who always wears a very bright yellow and orange safety vest and an orange hunters cap. Maybe he’s just being smart and has decided he doesn’t care how others may think he looks. It sounds trivial and vain but it speaks to the safety issue of lights and reflectors and bright colors. Because we are so much smaller than cars the only way to be more noticeable is to be extremely loud and gaudy for our size. Maybe I should just get over it and put my safety triangles back on. Am trying out other ideas like ankle bands. Or maybe just replacing the triangles with a strip of yellow reflective tape. Something that will make me more visable than nothing at all but not so loud that it screams at everyone around me.

31 01 2011
thelazyrando

@Richard – I was touring on a popular bike route in Canada once and using the restroom when a guy walks in decked out in full cycling uniform [helmet, visibility vest, bright jersey, bike shorts, stiff SPD shoes, etc..] I chatted with him about his bike tour and we walked out together…he was shocked when I walked up to a touring bike – jumped on it and rode away….I was wearing street clothes and shoes.

Like you I prefer to blend in and get on with my day dressed like a normal human being as much as possible.

12 09 2013
Dave Beedon

Informative article. The analysis of brightness, steady vesus flashing, etc. woke me up from a stupor of “very bright blinking is best for everything.” Thanks for making me see the light.

30 11 2013
Brian

Blinking and/or uber-bright lights hurt my eyes, and I hate riding behind riders that have that sort of equipment. Reflective, moving strips are great, as are reflective triangles for long and short range night visibility (unless the drivers are not using their lights), and steady lights are easier to track and avoid (to me). YMMV. I just wrote up an opinion at http://www.stonehog.com.

30 11 2013
Terry

Equating military LASERs and blinkies on the back of bikes is the height of falsE analogy, not to mention silly. If I did not ask you to go riding with me then it is not relevant to me that your eyes are getting “hurt” ( send me the bill). I do not care if I annoy a car driver.It annoys most care drivers that they have to give me any room at all and thus they are already annoyed and my light helps ensure that they comply with law and descency. I must “annoy” them to help ensure I do not get hit. AND, I do not care even a bit until Car drivers actually stop running cyclists over due to inattention. Annoying them is required in order that they pay attention (generally) . There is no statistically significant evidence which suggests that a light too bright endangers a cyclistin or increases overall probability of being hit. Every bit of common sense points to being seen as being safer. Though, ive had a change of heart, and just now decided to not use any lites at all lest I offend or anoy someone. I put my death ray powered blinky on an aluminum rod which extends a foot past my elbow to ensure that they give me space. When a car “annoys” me, I go to the hospital. IT is intuitive to me that a bright blinky inside of my elbow as well as one on my ankle, both set to “ionizing”, makes me safer.

30 11 2013
Vik

@Terry – It’s obvious you only care about yourself. That attitude has limitations when there are in fact other people around you.

Thankfully there are laws regarding motor vehicle lighting and hopefully those laws will trickle down to bicycle lights – like they have in Germany.

The idea that having the brightest lights you can mounted on both ends of your bike makes you safer is silly. Blind folks driving 3000lb cars within a few feet of you isn’t a sensible way to ensure they are in control of their vehicles and able to avoid hitting you.

1 12 2013
Terry

Yes, I only care about myself when it comes to a car vs me on my bike. As for your broad and judgemental statement regarding me, there are plenty of people I have helped who would differ with you. But I am such an anti social type that I actually ride without a helmet and drive a car without a seatbelt…and yet still, I live!…fifty years anyway. I have never been “Blinded” nor read a story about such an event. Perhaps there are lites in your area capable of this dasturdly deed. The laws I’m familiar with state minimum distances one can be seen, not maximum lumens. I see motorcycles with death ray headlites but they do not “blind” me. Though it is a bit of a nusance I understand why they do it. Again, there is no statistical evidence that this problem haunts the developed world as a spectre in the night or that I am safer with a micro lite…except in the minds of some…Exactly how many lumens would you grant me, were you able to wield supreme executive authority in this matter? Do you have any science (NHTSA data for instance) to support your position?

1 12 2013
Vik

Terry – I’m judging you based on what you are posting here. I didn’t come looking for you. You came to me so if you are going to post something don’t expect me to respond to anything outside of your post.

Re-read your post you come off as a selfish dick. That’s not my fault. I didn’t write your post.

As for vehicle headlight laws a simple example is if I felt at risk from SUVs with brush guards I might decided that being extra visible was best for my safety so I might drive my car with my headlights on high beam at night because more visible is safer. Heck that seems like such a great idea I might get some uber high powered rear lights and mount them to my roof and point them right at the eyes of the driver behind me to ensure I was seen. Hmmmm…better yet I should get some bright hunting spotlights and attach them to each side of my car and keep them on to make sure anyone from the side sees me as well.

The beauty with this setup is sitting in my car there is no problem. The lights aren’t pointed at me so I could drive this way as long as I want and never be bothered by the light I am emitting. Well other than people turning on their high beams around you which will piss you off because they are hard on the eyes/night vision.

The good news is it wouldn’t take very long for a cop to pull you over and ticket you and tow your car away.

To answer your bike light question there are three issues with a light. How much light it’s putting out, how that light is focused and how that light is aimed.

You can have a very very bright bike light with a vertical cut off that’s perfectly fine to use around other drivers and other cyclists/pedestrians if aimed properly. On the other hand the same brightness of bike light without a vertical cut off or with one and aimed poorly can be very anti-social.

Peter White has a great article on bike lights you should read:

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/plight.asp

So if I was writing the law I wouldn’t focus on a specific brightness I would focus on how the light impacts people around the user. And Germany already has these laws in place so I would study how those laws are written to use the parts that make sense for us.

Just like where I live we have impaired driving laws and we have drunk driving laws. The impaired driving laws allow a cop to pull over and arrest anyone driving erratically and unsafely. The drunk driving laws have a specific blood alcohol level that is required for charging people.

From a practical perspective on every bike commute during the parts of the year with some darkness in the AM and on the way home I have at least 3-6 other riders with painfully bright strobes going nuts on the front of their bikes.

I notice the same thing driving, but I don’t commute into town in my car I have less opportunity to be exposed to the heavy bike commuter traffic.

I’d also suggest you consider reflective gear as a way to supplement bike lights without having to get up to military weapons grade LEDs. ;)

http://thelazyrando.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/you-dont-need-more-lights/

I linked to a bike light safety study in the blog post you just commented on.

If you think have crazy bright lights makes you safer. Think again.

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