opinion: headlights vs jackets

This topic contains 28 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by Avatar of ChrisAdyNelson ChrisAdyNelson 10 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #789006
    Avatar of justjeff
    justjeff
    Participant

    it’s now dark when i’m riding home from work, and have been having this debate with myself over the last few days…

    i am wearing one of those crazy-bright-blind-you-during-daylight raincoats, but i do not have a headlight at all. i do have a blinky taillight.

    I occasionally see riders with headlights but they are wearing all black or otherwise dark clothing, and i have to think that i must be more visible to others than they are.

    i’m too old to really care about the fashion risks, and my coat doubles as another wind breaker, so i think i win. ;) Am I fooling myself?

    related: are blinky headlights safer than solid-on headlights?

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 28 total)
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  • #792918
    Avatar of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Bright colors don’t matter in the dark. Retroreflective stuff helps a lot (think safety vest).

    A headlight is essential for being seen. It seems bikers are mostly concerned about rear-end crashes, but in an urban setting rear-end crashes are uncommon; Most crashes are at intersections and headlights are the best thing for nighttime visibility at intersections. Blinkies are better than nothing and are cheap and the batteries last fairly long, but I use and recommend a very bright (700+ lumens) steady headlight for best visibility.

    #792919
    Avatar of Snak-Shak
    Snak-Shak
    Participant

    I have pretty strong opinions about this…

    Blinking headlights help for visibility in dim or foggy conditions (a lot) and I use them in those conditions. At night, I don’t think blinking lights should not be used AT ALL. They are not as effective as headlights and they are distracting (in a bad way, not a good way) to on coming traffic. I absolutely hate when somebody approaches me on a dark trail with flashing lights. Also, and I don’t think flashing front lights are legal, technically speaking (that said, I don’t know anybody that’s been pulled over for running blinking lights). If you feel you must use a blinking front light, aim it down so you don’t adversely affect other driver’s/cyclists night vision.

    I agree with Hokan that bright colors don’t make much of a difference at night but reflective stuff helps a lot. You need a white front head light to be legal. You don’t need a tail light to be legal, but I think it would be unwise to trust in the law to protect yourself on this issue. I really like a blinking rear light but Hokan’s bright steady light is very effective.

    I am a fan of reflective bands on pants legs at nights – they give some flash and movement and think they help quite a bit for the minimal cost.

    #792920
    Avatar of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I can’t disagree with anything Snak Shak said except to note that this year the Minnesota Legislature legalized blinking headlights for bicycles.

    Bicycles are now the only vehicles besides emergency vehicles that are permitted to use blinking headlights and blinking taillights.

    #792921
    Avatar of giddything
    giddything
    Participant

    @justjeff wrote:

    i do not have a headlight at all.

    Are you fucking kidding?

    #792922
    Avatar of Nickel
    Nickel
    Participant

    (On roads, not on separated bike paths)
    To me, I can see a cyclist best if they have on some reflective clothing and a blinking light. Many cyclists use a small, basic light that doesn’t throw a lot of light and if it is on a steady setting, it seems to get washed out in the background with the lights from the street and nearby traffic.

    I use my headlight TO SEE more than be seen. I can throw a lot of light through an intersection and into rows of parked cars to prepare for a possible door opening. The roads are just nasty for the next few months between ice build-up, road debris and potholes….need to see it all. :D

    #792923
    Avatar of omgmrj
    omgmrj
    Participant

    @giddything wrote:

    @justjeff wrote:
    i do not have a headlight at all.

    Are you fucking kidding?

    +1

    #792924
    Avatar of giddything
    giddything
    Participant

    Ok, I’ve calmed down a little. I only had to rewrite it twice to remove the swear words and ad hominens.

    That’s illegal. It’s illegal for a reason. There are people in this board who are still having problems, months (years? don’t remember) later, from being run into by some ninja running without lights.

    Your smugness about being better than people who have lights is rivaled only by your ignorance in believing people can see bright colors in the dark (protip: we can’t) and your selfishness.

    There is no cyclist, pedestrian, or driver in this town who deserves to be involved in an accident with you because you can’t be bothered to follow the law. Get off the road.

    #792925
    Avatar of Volsung
    Volsung
    Participant

    For once I’m not the angry or irked one!

    I’m glad he’s considering lights and safety. There are plenty of hipster idiots out there who think lights are incompatible with their urban environment-connected fixies and this dude’s wising up.

    If you’re only riding in town, a blinky be-seen light is fine. If you’re out there, brighter is better. A coworker rode into a snare line set up across a path in Maple Grove. He got banged up pretty good and swears it wouldn’t happen now with his niterider 600.

    #792926
    Avatar of kuando
    kuando
    Participant

    Please use a light. My eyes aren’t what they used to be. Try to see it from another person’s point of view.

    #792927
    Avatar of Caaveman82
    Caaveman82
    Participant

    @Volsung wrote:

    A coworker rode into a snare line set up across a path in Maple Grove. He got banged up pretty good and swears it wouldn’t happen now with his niterider 600.

    A snare line just to screw with pedestrians?

    #792928
    Avatar of justjeff
    justjeff
    Participant

    wow giddything, glad you calmed down- i’d hate to see what you have to say about me if you were actually upset!

    a little more background perhaps might help- For many years, i did run with a very bright headlight, and i think it gave me a false sense of security. I was once cut off by a car coming toward me+turning left, and by the time we both stopped, my light was actually lighting up the driver’s entire face- how could they not see me? from that point on, i just decided to stick more to back roads, even if that meant a longer trip. my only night riding now is my commute from work (only a couple miles) and is probably 90% residential back-streets in the city. The entire route has plenty of street lights and i actually see more cyclists on the streets i take than i do moving cars. i never take it for granted, bright coat or not, that anyone else can see me.

    i’m not trying to make excuses here, if i were doing more miles on heavier trafficked roads, i’d be as lit up as times square. i am actually interested in being safe.

    thanks for the feedback though. people generally don’t like to re-evaluate their position on something once they’ve made up their minds on a subject, but you’ve all actually helped, some more than others. i will absolutely consider a headlight among my next bikeshop purchases, although if i ride past giddy’s house, i might turn it off just so i can slip by unnoticed. :)

    #792929
    Avatar of giddything
    giddything
    Participant

    I’m glad you think it’s funny. Some guy without a headlight almost ran me down when I was walking on the sidewalk outside my house tonight.

    #792931
    Avatar of jimh
    jimh
    Participant

    Lights, definitely important at night. No argument there. But I agree that blinking white headlights are bad news. They’re annoying and distracting and cause drivers to instinctively look away from you because you’re screwing up their night vision. We’re being sold a gimmick.

    If you’re determined to try using a light so bright that it actually lights up the road surface – instead of just making you visible to drivers – then point it down at the road and not into drivers’ eyes.

    #792932
    Avatar of jimh
    jimh
    Participant

    [dup]

    #792933
    Avatar of jimh
    jimh
    Participant

    .

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