Cyclist v Cyclist on bike lights

Deckard 21 June 2012 46

After having several hundred cyclist v motorist threads over the years on here I thought I’d start up a Cyclist v Cyclist debate.

Given it’s almost the shortest day of the year and all of us are riding home in the dark, I thought I’d ask why do some people think it’s necessary to light their path like they’re trying to spot bombers coming in over the English Channel? Almost every night now I get blinded by one of these spotlights stuck to a helmet passing you within a metre at eye level. Sometimes they’re so bright you literally can’t see anything in front of you. It’s even worse when they’ve got the thing stuck on strobe

So for all of you who insist on wearing these lights on your evening commute can you please dip them to the ground or put your head off to the side when you pass rather than shine the thing right in my face. Thanks.


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46 Responses to Cyclist v Cyclist on bike lights
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Henry82 Henry82 9:07 pm 22 Jun 12

The number of lumens written on packaging is vastly different from reality. Even more so if the light has been bought for cheap off ebay

parle parle 8:53 pm 22 Jun 12

Grrrr said :

Hardly. By way of comparison, cars have thousands of lumens of headlamp. The bike light is dimmer, unless perhaps you consider a unit with a very concentrated centre spot that’s then shone directly at the eyes .. but then it wouldn’t be pointing at the ground where it’s actually needed.

600 lumens is about double the brightness of a good torch, in low light and having that shined into the eyes, hurts.

lumens is a measurement of the total volume of light, a car output is so high because headlights cover a very large area, your comparison with a car cannot be made as lumens is not a comparable measure of ‘brightness’ between different types of light sources.

you can’t point a bright bike light at the ground, what happens is that your eyes adjust to the bright spot on the path and the contrast kills your night vision for everything forward of that spot. bike lights need to be aimed well down the road.

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 8:22 pm 22 Jun 12

LOL, it’s great to see that the problems faced by motorists have now become a bugbear of the cycling world. Next it’ll be all the potholes and roadworks on cycleways [oh yes, already done on Centenary trail thread] , bikes with trailers not letting faster bikes pass on two way paths and all the un-roadworthy bikes out there [oh, that’s already mentioned here too, sorry].
Don’t mind me, get back to your squabble.

Kath Kath 8:20 pm 22 Jun 12

loosebrown said :

If you’ve got an extremely bright light ‘for cars’ then chuck it away and get a hi-vis vest.

Only if it’s got great reflectors – so many people put on fluoro tops forgetting that they’re only going to show up in sunlight.

I like to see bikes with flashy white lights in front. Even though they’re weird and distracting, it immediately screams “BIKE” rather than “car with a broken headlight” and gets your attention. (I don’t use one, but I take a crazy-complex series of detours to avoid roads after dark.)

Grrrr Grrrr 5:25 pm 22 Jun 12

PoQ said :

There’s enough streetlights about – even in the remote darkness of Queanbeyan – that anyone with decent night vision doesn’t need them.

Lies. Canberra streetlights in lots of town are virtually useless because they’re very dim, and located above the footpaths in the middle of trees which block the light. Also, the older light networks are unreliable and sometimes streets are unlit for days. Perhaps in streets established in the last decade or 2 your statement would be true.

parle said :

what model is it?, if it’s 600 actual you would be causing physical pain to others coming toward you.

Hardly. By way of comparison, cars have thousands of lumens of headlamp. The bike light is dimmer, unless perhaps you consider a unit with a very concentrated centre spot that’s then shone directly at the eyes .. but then it wouldn’t be pointing at the ground where it’s actually needed.

shauno shauno 1:36 pm 22 Jun 12

Mine goes from 500 lumen to 375 to 250 and then 125 and then 500 strobe if you have a bright enough one on the bars you don’t need a helmet mount light as some spread the beam fairly wide.

loosebrown loosebrown 1:32 pm 22 Jun 12

If you’ve got an extremely bright light ‘for cars’ then chuck it away and get a hi-vis vest.

Riding on cycle paths with MTB lights means you are a total *&%^*&

VYBerlinaV8_is_back VYBerlinaV8_is_back 11:01 am 22 Jun 12

I’m going to get an aircraft landing light with a million lumens and bolt it to the front of my bike.

Ah, that feels better…

p1 p1 10:42 am 22 Jun 12

niftydog said :

Ain’t no street lights on bike paths, dude. Nor does fishing have much in common with cycle commuting.

I don’t know about that. Both a more fun when you are drunk.

Slice Slice 10:34 am 22 Jun 12

Blah, blah, blah. You will all be dead within 50 years.

niftydog niftydog 10:10 am 22 Jun 12

PoQ said :

>logic train wreck<

Ain't no street lights on bike paths, dude. Nor does fishing have much in common with cycle commuting.

Postalgeek Postalgeek 9:56 am 22 Jun 12

When cycling next to car traffic on Monaro highway at night I go for a ‘WTF?’ effect.

No less than two super bright rear blinkers, preferably three, orange blinker on the frame to be seen from the side plus wheel blinkers, front blinkers plus bar light and helmet light.

parle parle 1:59 am 22 Jun 12

Aeek said :

I’m commuting with a 600 lumens LED mounted on my bars.

what model is it?, if it’s 600 actual you would be causing physical pain to others coming toward you.

why buy a light system that’s made for night mtb and so unsuited to commuting?

i run 400 on both head and bars but the bar light only runs at half because even 400 is too bright for a light that can’t be turned away.

Aeek said :

ironically mostly from riders with helmet lights who are dazzling me.

hehe, that’s me, I purposely light up the face of riders that don’t dip their high powered lights, you’re welcome.

Aeek Aeek 12:25 am 22 Jun 12

I’m commuting with a 600 lumens LED mounted on my bars. Most of my ride home, Woden-Aranda via Scrivener dam is completely unlit path. Next to Lady Denham Drive by “The Farm” is even worse.
Oncoming cars blind me if I don’t use full power, and even then its still marginal, a worry given the frequency of fallen branches there. My older HID, also bar mounted, 650 lumens (550 low!) is better through there.
Neither mounting is capable of dipping, and I need them angled for maximum benefit as there are some spots where its absolutely needed, and also for seeing ninja cyclists and pedestrians at more than point blank.
Tried using the lower power settings, just mean I don’t see as well and still attracted the rare complaints at the same rate, ironically mostly from riders with helmet lights who are dazzling me.

What does work is to swivel the light so the bright is next to the path, so I do that now. Unfortunately, there are a few tight spots where my hands are to busy to do that.

Personally, I deal with dazzling lights by looking at the left edge of the path, NOT at the light.
Prefer them to no lights, and the absolute worst, cheapskates who use red flashers as front lights.
They confuse people both as to side of the path and closing speed, good for head on crashes.

shauno shauno 11:37 pm 21 Jun 12

Benaresq said :

PoQ said :

Bright lights make a bad situation worse. The object of the standard lights is to be seen by other road users. Anything brighter than that wrecks your own night vision as well as that of other road users. That can’t be a good thing. Its useless posing, like those dingbats who drive around with their driving lights on during the day.

There’s enough streetlights about – even in the remote darkness of Queanbeyan – that anyone with decent night vision doesn’t need them. To quote Nino Culotta in “Gone Fishin'”, “…you can see better at night without a torch”.

I assume that’s why when you drive your car at night you only use the parkers?

I’m sorry if I offend you, but when I ride at night I want to see and I want to be seen. I’d rather offend you than be squished like a bug.

Ive got a 500 lumen light on my bike and im quiet keen on getting one of those 1400 lumen lights soon for extra brightness and I might replace my rear light for an improved extra bright red flashing strobe.

jezeme jezeme 11:16 pm 21 Jun 12

PoQ said :

Bright lights make a bad situation worse. The object of the standard lights is to be seen by other road users. Anything brighter than that wrecks your own night vision as well as that of other road users. That can’t be a good thing. Its useless posing, like those dingbats who drive around with their driving lights on during the day.

There’s enough streetlights about – even in the remote darkness of Queanbeyan – that anyone with decent night vision doesn’t need them. To quote Nino Culotta in “Gone Fishin'”, “…you can see better at night without a torch”.

Y’all people are funny. Just because you never exceed 30Kph or ride on an unlit bike path at night doesn’t mean no one needs a decent light. Like someone said before, just point your light down more, it’s simple. Bright USB rechargeable lights are great.
And drivers, since your vehicle is the source of danger on the road the responsibility to be careful of other road users is on you. If you’re truly worried about hurting someone, ride a bike, you probably won’t ever hurt anyone.

Benaresq Benaresq 10:59 pm 21 Jun 12

PoQ said :

Bright lights make a bad situation worse. The object of the standard lights is to be seen by other road users. Anything brighter than that wrecks your own night vision as well as that of other road users. That can’t be a good thing. Its useless posing, like those dingbats who drive around with their driving lights on during the day.

There’s enough streetlights about – even in the remote darkness of Queanbeyan – that anyone with decent night vision doesn’t need them. To quote Nino Culotta in “Gone Fishin'”, “…you can see better at night without a torch”.

I assume that’s why when you drive your car at night you only use the parkers?

I’m sorry if I offend you, but when I ride at night I want to see and I want to be seen. I’d rather offend you than be squished like a bug.

PoQ PoQ 9:38 pm 21 Jun 12

Bright lights make a bad situation worse. The object of the standard lights is to be seen by other road users. Anything brighter than that wrecks your own night vision as well as that of other road users. That can’t be a good thing. Its useless posing, like those dingbats who drive around with their driving lights on during the day.

There’s enough streetlights about – even in the remote darkness of Queanbeyan – that anyone with decent night vision doesn’t need them. To quote Nino Culotta in “Gone Fishin'”, “…you can see better at night without a torch”.

1967 1967 4:18 pm 21 Jun 12

Really, how far ahead do you need to see on a bike path?
Hopefully, You’re only going at say 30Km/h tops, (These are shared pathways after all).
Just angle the light towards the ground a little more rather than straight into peoples eyes, it’s that simple.

On a lighter note, 2 weeks ago while I was riding around lake Tuggeranong, I passed a young bloke headed in the other direction with a 3 foot flouro tube strapped across his handle bars.
For a few moments I thought I was being attacked by a jedi warrior.

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 4:10 pm 21 Jun 12

Jivrashia said :

Seems like what needs to be said has mostly been said in the above posts.

But here’s my contribution to strobe lights.

Invested in a $500 HID light that attaches to the helmet. It is not as bright as those on, say, a motor bike, but bright enough to cause pedestrians to turn in surprise.
However, on two separate occasions motorists almost took me out. I’m not sure if there is a scientific explanation as to why they couldn’t see me, but they ended up crossing my path while I was riding inside the round-about, braking only at the very last minute to avoid crashing in to me.
And my light was on high, without strobe.

Now I ride with strobe mode on and feel quite confident that these annoyed motorists are never going to miss me.
… Oh wait….

Logical explanation #1. The HID light directs it’s beam toward where you are looking – no doubt the road in front of you. It will not spread out to the sides like a car’s park lights would, which a driver would be looking for. Perhaps your single blue spot got mixed up with the rest of the single blue spots of street lights in the background? If you were turning right on the roundabout and they cut in front of you, they may not have seen your indicator [or signalling arm] because it is pitch black!
That is the reason road using vehicles must have park and headlights, blinker and brake lights.

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