Free bike light giveaway Dec. 9

Cascade Bicycle Club and SDOT are giving away 420 bike lights at three Seattle locations December 9. Now that it is dark for so much of the day, having lights is one of the best things you can do to help drivers (and people walking and biking) see you.

It’s encouraging that enough people are using bright lights that Bike Portland has raised the question of whether some lights are too bright. I am personally not a fan of the super-bright front strobe. It is disorienting, especially on a bike path. But I would much rather discuss lights being too bright than people not having lights at all.

I have ridden at night without lights before, and I felt much more visible than I really was. I have a vivid memory from several years ago in St. Louis. I approached a four-way stop and arrived before a driver did. I looked right at him, and he looked at me. I thought we had made eye contact, so I proceeded through the intersection. Then he went, too, and we came inches from colliding. When I looked back, he had a look of pure astonishment on his face, and I realized that even though he looked right at me, I was invisible to him. The intersection had no streetlight, and I was dressed in dark colors.

Now, I am not one to give drivers much leeway when they hit people either walking or biking. It is their responsibility to make extra sure the way is clear and safe before proceeding. However, there is no reason for me to make that difficult for them (plus, you are legally required to have at least a front light). It’s in your best interest to be lit well. If you have friends who are chronically light-free, encourage them to go to this giveaway (or go out today and buy them a light set as a gift).

From Cascade:

Thursday, Dec. 9, 4 – 6 p.m.

Thanks to Seattle Department of Transportation’s Bike Smart program, Cascade will light up December by giving away 420 bike light sets, first come, first served. Come find us at one of the following locations (look for the Cascade banners) to get your free light:

Come early and bring your friends!

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6 Responses to Free bike light giveaway Dec. 9

  1. biliruben says:

    I am constantly confronted with ultra-bright lights on the Burke. It’s hard to blame the users, as there are so many dangerous road and trail hazards (roots and potholes), that it’s probably safest to be able to see them. Most realize they are blinding me and shield the light when approaching, and I appreciate it. When they don’t, I can’t even determine where the trail edge is, and sometimes end up in the mud.

    I personally don’t have an ultra-bright light (I got off my bike checked it out to see how much I was blinding on-coming bikes a couple of weeks ago – not much), but I have ridden my commute for so long, I know the spots where I need to be wary. Even so, roots sometimes surprise me, so a strong grip on the handlebars is essential.

    If we had better surfaces, ultra-brights wouldn’t be as necessary.

    Good on cascade for getting folks lit. I don’t see the completely unlit much on the trail, but definitely downtown it’s more of an issue. Unlit pedestrians and pooches are the main hazard on the Burke these days.

  2. Andreas says:

    It’s no different than drivers who don’t turn off their highbeams when they approach another driver. If you’re using them to see the road/trail, aim them at the road/trail, not at the eyes of drivers and cyclists. If you insist on aiming them high, then dim, shield, or lower them when you approach another person. Not doing so is just a plain dick move.

    And I love how a lot of the insanely bright lights are also strobe lights. There’s no need for a light to flash more than a couple times a second. In fact, in the UK, epileptic groups successfully lobbied to have the flash rate of bike lights legislated to no more than 4 flashes per second. But here companies like PlanetBike gladly sell their Blaze 1W LED light, which according to online reviews flashes at 8-10 flashes per second. How is that at all necessary for safety?

    But unfortunately there’s always going to be a cadre of cyclists who really only care about themselves. Temporarily blinding other cyclists or causing seizures in innocent passers-by isn’t really something they give a damn about.

  3. Leif says:

    I think having a bright, flashing headlight is totally fine and improves safety when riding on a bike lane or in traffic, but you need to turn it to constant and aim it down when riding on trails or other areas where you are passing cyclists/peds closely in the other direction. I’m blinded nightly on the BG and it scares me to think what I might run into in those few seconds while I can’t see.

  4. Bright flashing lights mounted on the handlebar that are clearly not designed to help mother riders and drivers is nothing short of criminal, in my opinion.

    These lights inherently distract, blind, and preoccupy other users from effectively using the trail in a safe manner. The users I’ve come across with them are RUDE. They think that because they are safe that what they’re doing is OK.

    It’s not, and if I crash into one because of their negligence, be forewarned. So don’t complain if people don’t obey any traffic laws, they’re causing the problem with their lights!

    In all reality, no light may be a safer alternative.

  5. AdrianQ says:

    I recently replaced my super-bright bazillion-lumen headlight with a (still very bright) dynamo front light. The biggest difference other than lack of batteries and output is the fact that it has a very well designed optics system that reflects the light onto the ground and has a very sharp cutoff so that you won’t blind oncoming traffic. The cutoff is very common in Europe and I can’t understand why they’re so rare here!

  6. EY says:

    Have to work until 6 :(
    No lights for me.
    People are going to need a light to make it out there!

    I always feel like bringing a high power flashlight and shining it in the faces of those people that look at you with their helmet light. They have to know people coming toward them can’t see squat! Jerks!

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