Friday, February 27, 2009

Something from the Comments

Ham said...

And about "lots of lights", can I add "at lots of levels"?

On my commute, I occasionally come across a guy who has fixed a batten across his pannier rack and fixed four full width cat eyes that is seriously attention getting. Then, I noticed how easy it was to have them all blocked out. I'd advocate at least three at different levels. I use the pannier, on the post below the seat and on the rear of my helmet.

Good call, Ham. I use a row of blinkies across the back of my bum bag, so they're up above the bike and not obscured by anything on it. Spanning the bag like that, they wrap slightly around to provide some improvement in side illumination as well. Reflector leg bands on each ankle add moving reflectivity. But this is just one of many approaches and barely sufficient. I plan to add a helmet light to the front and assorted options for extra side/rear lighting.
This winter I have seen a few cyclists around the North Conway area with little or no illumination. A couple who appear to be trying to be conscientious have only a weak light or two to the front and maybe a single blinky on the back. Their array satisfies the law, but will get them mowed down eventually. On streets narrowed by snowbanks, populated by tired and intoxicated vacationers and locals, dinky lighting is a false economy. Unless these people want to die...

In my observation, lights below the saddle on the seat post are hard to spot compared to the same size and type of light up and out, higher on your person. Lights low on the bike help least of all. They draw the motorist's eye down and away from finding a clear path PAST you.


Anonymous said...

I like to cover myself in asbestos clothing, saturate it in lighter fluid and ignite it. It is usually only good for about a mile or two--enough to get another 6-pack.

cafiend said...

Funny you should mention that, Anonymous. I used to joke that a cyclist could set himself on fire and motorists would still say, "I never saw him."

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Ham said...

I suspect the challenges of London traffic and rural New Hampshire differ in the detail but are in broad terms similar - give yourself the best chance for survival that you can.

I'd love to think Hokeyspokes could be justified for their safety benefit, but I doubt it. They are seriously cool "in the flesh", as it were.

In city riding, where there is a lot of light about, light clothing is just as essential as lights, IMO. I cannot believe the number who ride in dark clothing.

My "I never saw him" story was in broad daylight, wearing hi-viz stuff with a socking great 8' flagpole and flag fixed on the pannier rack. Unfortunately the "I" in question was driving a military landing craft. (bit more story here)

cafiend said...

High visibility clothing can help. Too bad it doesn't radiate a force field that repels the idiots who don't see it anyway.

Those Hokeyspokes look spectacular enough to overcome the usual drawback of lights mounted low. The Down Low Glow lighted chain stay has a similar eye-catching effect.

One reason I mastered the track stand was to put on a good show at stop lights. Motorists were so fascinated wondering why I didn't fall over that they forgot to be irritated at me for being there at all. And, since I was still in the pedals, as soon as the light changed I wasn't there at all. I could sprint out several lengths ahead of the pack before they knew it.

Visibility can hinge on entertainment value.