Reading replies to my bike light blog posts and similar stuff I posted on bike forums I wanted to ensure my intentions were not misconstrued:
- I love everything about Dinottes except the light beam. If/when they fix that I will be a happy customer again. If you give me a choice I’d rather support a North American company rather than one on another continent. Unfortunately the light beam is most of what I am buying with a bike light so that’s an issue I can’t over look.
- Planet Bike is a great company. Their main headlights and taillights don’t perform well, but that’s something they could fix and I’ll happily buy their lights again.
- I’m not telling you that your light setup is wrong. Unless you live and ride where I do it’s impossible for me to know what biking in your neck of the woods is like so I can’t pass judgement on your lights.
- I’m not suggesting you only use reflectors when you ride.
- I’m not suggesting you take lights off your bike or use different lights.
What I am saying is:
- symmetric beam bike lights and uber power taillights can be blinding to the point of being dangerous and they are certainly incredibly irritating to other people who encounter them – especially on dark roads and MUPs.
- rapid blinking powerful bike lights are far worse than steady or slow blinking bike lights.
- blinking bike lights that go on/off are far worse than a similar light that blinks low/high.
- more and more powerful symmetric beam lights on your bike don’t make you safer and can actually cause problems for you and others.
- Germany made symmetric beam bike lights and blinking bike lights illegal for road use for a reason.
- reflective material can be very useful to make yourself visible and has benefits over using more lights to increase visibility.
- look at your existing lights from both another cyclist’s and a driver’s point of view…get a friend to help you and bike/drive back and forth past your bike…follow your bike on a bike for 5mins on a MUP or dark street.
- use your common sense and compassion for others to evaluate your lights and your visibility.
- where you aim your lights matters a lot so if you have symmetric beam lights and can’t don’t want to replace them try different aiming points. See what that does for you.
Bottom line I’ll consider my posts successful if a few people out there tried my suggestion of standing in front and behind of their bikes to check out what the lights are like for others. I had no idea how bad it really was until I was forced to do this experiment by living in a town with loads of cyclists and an unlit MUP that I ride on 95% of my bike missions.
Ultimately the great thing about this topic is that every single one of us can test out our one situation fairly easily by putting ourselves at the opposite end of our bike lights from where we usually are in the saddle. You don’t have to take my word for anything – just try it out and see what you think.