I bike commute a day or two each week. When I don’t ride, I drive. This morning I was driving to work along a relatively busy street and I was struck by how dark it was. There were street lights which seemed excessively high considering the task at hand and appeared only to illuminate the tree branches immediately adjacent to them. The darkness was overwhelming.
My selfish mind quickly personalized the situation. “A cyclist would be invisible on this road,” I thought to myself. Ahead I could see the flashing yellow light where a bike route crossed the road. I slowed because while I couldn’t see anyone there; the light was so bad I also couldn’t see that people weren’t there. I had the same uneasy feeling when you outrun your headlights in the fog.
It served as a reminder that when it comes to visibility, as cyclists we have to assume one hundred percent of the responsibility to be seen. That isn’t a legal opinion, it is a self-serving way of life. A pinstripe of reflective material and a $20 light don’t cut it. You might as well wrap yourself in a black blanket and lie on the road at midnight.
The Ninja look (all black) with token light also known as "I want to be an Organ Donor"
Ladies and gentlemen we are talking about your lives here.
I will gladly defer to your personal preferences when it comes to how you light up the road in front of you for your visibility when riding in the dark. However, when it comes to the lights that exist so that others can see you, there is no acceptable reason not to have multiple strong lights pointing behind, in front and in fact covering all 360 degrees. These lights must be bright, even bordering on offensive. It is good to remember that pulsing is better than blinking and irregular patterns are better than simple on, off, on, off.
I recommend an ambulance as your target lighting configuration. If you can’t manage the rotating blinding lights on top then I suggest pulsing lights facing forward and backward that feature side visibility as well. Two or three lights in back and a forward facing flasher in addition to a headlight should be a starting point.
Your objective is to be seen by people who are NOT looking for you. You have to “interrupt” their visual trance.
We all have our favorite flavors when it comes to lights. Evo is a fan of Light & Motion products.