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Cyclist v Cyclist on bike lights

By 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.

What’s Your opinion?


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46 Responses to
Cyclist v Cyclist on bike lights
JimCharles 12:18 pm 21 Jun 12

What are the legal light rules for bikes over here? Are strobe lights even legal for use on pushbikes, or do they need to be below a certain level of oscillation?
I thought they could trigger epileptic fits, so not good for drivers and can cause distraction from the road ?
These things are only going to get brighter and brighter.

I was given a Cree torch from China, it’s brighter than my car headlights and ranges about 200m…I wasn’t even sure if these military grade things are legal, so i only use it for possum spotting, or i take it on holiday to dark places with no streetlights.
I guess it would be good for hunting or something? Too bright for a bike though, total overkill.

Disinformation 12:17 pm 21 Jun 12

Bluenomi said :

Those strobe lights are annoying for drivers as well. Every night I get blinded by bike riders riding towards oncoming traffic with the damn things flashing and blinding you. And it’s not even a dark road, it’s Commonwealth ave!

If you are truly blinded by flashing lights at night (and not just trying to hype up the word) then you need to have your license restricted to driving in daylight hours only.

I think that you’re actually full of it.
Here’s a hint.
Don’t look at the bright lights.

carnardly 11:44 am 21 Jun 12

I use a solid light both on my handlebars and my lid – both of which are pretty bright. I ride on main roads and dark gloomy areas and have had to dodge many an invisible jogger or dog walker – or another ninja cyclist with no lights. I usually turn my lid lights off when i see an oncoming cyclist (but not ninjas though!) but many a time say down a main drag I’ve kept them on for motorists and my own safety. Not because I can’t see, but because many pull up level with me, slow to my speed and then one quick flash of the blinker and they start to come over left across me to turn off somewhere.

So they get an immediate head turn and bright lights in their left passenger window, and a “what on earth are you trying to do?” look while I carry on straight ahead. I’m sure in those situations I’ve almost blinded a driver, but I don’t want to get taken out either. I am visible from well over 200 m from behind and surely if you want to turn left 300 m ahead you should be able to work out whether you’ll get past me in time, or whether you should just back your foot off the go pedal to slow and go behind me.

It happens incredibly frequently. Even the other night I was riding south along Melrose drive. Why do cars pull up level with you and the drivers start waving their arms at you because they want to turn left across a bike lane NOW!!! to get into a petrol station/off ramp/etc?

It really isn’t that hard. I don’t seem to have any trouble with cyclists when I’m in my car.

AAMC 11:02 am 21 Jun 12

It’s the new cold war, light of ever increasing power, so powerful that they will destroy the world!!!!!

As a semi regular bicycle commuter I have invested in some fairly serious Lumens (initially I purchased them for Trail riding in the dark) and I have to say that they have made commuting on road, bike path and off road a whole lot better. I don’t think the problem is necessarily the overly powerful lights more the fact that cyclists tend to mount them on their bicycle helmets because people tend to look around and look at other cyclists and motorists in the face. If cyclists were to handlebar mount their Doomsday lights and use them to light where they are going, not where they are looking, the issue would be minimised. (For trail riding I still endorse handle bar and helmet combo as a minimum standard).
I think it is worth a note that, in my experience, people(cyclists) who argue against decent lights are people who use tiny single LED low power strobes that have no ability to light the way they are travelling, and in my opinion, given the speeds some cyclists travel at seeing where you are going is an important consideration.

M0les 10:53 am 21 Jun 12

Aren’t the strobe lights “illegal” (as-in not standards compliant) – I recall a legend that a solid front/tail ight is required (Additional blinkies are allowed). I am, of course, far too lazy to go and look any road-rules/laws up and rely on the collective dilligence to correct or confirm this tale.

Other than that, I’m all for night-time vehicular travellers (Bikes, cars, scooters, trucks, etc.) having adequate illumination. When there’s no oncoming traffic (*including pedestrians), high-beam lights are fine.

I encourage those with headlamps, regardless of their brightness or strobing, to be mindful to refrain from shining them directly into the eyes of any other traveller (*including pedestrians), whenever possible.

Other than that, everyone have safe, pleasant journeys!

Snarky 10:48 am 21 Jun 12

Lights on bikes have two functions – to see with, and to be seen. The strobe (as several have noted already) is to be seen, and on Commonwealth Ave that’s doubly important for the cyclist because there’s som much other light pollution around to get through. Plus, a strobing light uses less power so your battery lasts longer. Win-win!

As to why people buy such strong lights – I’m sure part of it is because they’re so cheap now! About 7-8 years I bought what was at the time one of the brightest headlights available – a 12V 5W quartz halogen bulb. It WAS bright, but the only way it made your eyes water was when you remembered how much it cost. Now, for, less than $200 I can buy one of these bad boys (disclaimer: mate of mine) that’ll take out an eyeball at 20m.

Bluenomi 10:42 am 21 Jun 12

Grail said :

Bluenomi said :

Those strobe lights are annoying for drivers as well. Every night I get blinded by bike riders riding towards oncoming traffic with the damn things flashing and blinding you. And it’s not even a dark road, it’s Commonwealth ave!

Mission accomplished: you can’t avoid noticing them.

And as a bonus, you understand why leaving fog lights on when there is no fog is undesirable.

Yes but when they are on the cycle path behind a metal barricade and not on the road I don’t need to be that aware of them. Plus causing me to run up the back of a car because I can’t see isn’t going to help get them on a driver’s good side.

Also I don’t have fog lights to leave on so no idea why that is relevant.

bundah 10:30 am 21 Jun 12

As much as i agree with you i recently was involved in a near collision with a cyclist on Canberra Ave at night during a blackout.The cyclist had a very poor front headlight which was practically invisible due to the light pollution from a stream of car travelling in the opposite direction.Yes definitely annoying but at least they’re visible!

EvanJames 10:29 am 21 Jun 12

On dark roads, I think the lights that actually light up the bike and the ground below it are safer. Just one strong light blinking and carrying on, you don’t know what you’re looking at. but lights that light up the bike, you know it’s a bike.

Grail 10:28 am 21 Jun 12

Bluenomi said :

Those strobe lights are annoying for drivers as well. Every night I get blinded by bike riders riding towards oncoming traffic with the damn things flashing and blinding you. And it’s not even a dark road, it’s Commonwealth ave!

Mission accomplished: you can’t avoid noticing them.

And as a bonus, you understand why leaving fog lights on when there is no fog is undesirable.

Bluenomi 10:10 am 21 Jun 12

Those strobe lights are annoying for drivers as well. Every night I get blinded by bike riders riding towards oncoming traffic with the damn things flashing and blinding you. And it’s not even a dark road, it’s Commonwealth ave!

p1 10:03 am 21 Jun 12

As a lapsed cyclist I full support using the brightest light you can get your grubby little hands on, and I also support a violent beating for people who use them inappropriately. If you are on a suburban street, for example, you can afford to aim your light much lower, and on a lower power setting, then if you are on the back trails at stromlo.

sien 9:55 am 21 Jun 12

It would be good if some of those lights had a dimmer.

They are staggering.

Most people who have them do look away a bit though.

bugmenot 9:49 am 21 Jun 12

I ride out to the suburbs where there are no street lights.
Bright lights are essential when trying to spot deaf dog walkers with black dogs who may or may not be on leashes and may or may not be set on trying to bite you.
If you don’t have a bright light they won’t see you coming, and they certainly won’t hear you, cause their either old or wearing headphones. Bright lights also help spot dog turds on the path.
I do try to shield or look away from oncoming riders and walkers tho because I know they’re bright. I also ring my bell and slow down.

arescarti42 9:34 am 21 Jun 12

I’m not a regular commuter cyclist, but I had exactly the same thoughts heading around West Basin just after dusk yesterday. Some of them really are blindingly bright

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