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Light Up Your Ride with Commute Seattle Thursday

Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday, eating away an hour of light in the evening. So you gotta get your bike ready for darker commutes if you haven’t already, and Commute Seattle wants to help.

1798985_10152801494314853_4121604270059350078_oThis is the second year Commute Seattle has help Light Up Your Ride, an event to provide folks with a place to ask questions about bike commuting in the dark and to get some advice on how to stay visible through the winter. Plus, there’s free coffee and prizes and stuff.

Personally, I finally made the jump to dynamo lights (powered by a generator in the front wheel hub), and so far I’m loving it. It wasn’t exactly a cheap upgrade (you gotta get a new wheel), but neither was replacing finicky battery-powered lights that break every year. In many European countries, bikes cannot legally be sold without lights, and some countries even require that dynamo-powered lights come standard on new most bikes.

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But the US bike market never adopted a bike light requirement, so it’s up to you to figure out a solution that works for you and fits in your budget. But lights absolutely are not optional. You are legally required to have a headlight and a rear reflector, though a rear light is highly recommended.  Studies suggest that people biking at night without lights often feel more visible than they really are.

Details on Light Up Your Ride:

Commute Seattle and the Seattle Department of Transportation are hosting the 2nd Annual Light Up Your Ride! event on October 30 from 4:00-6:00pm in McGraw Square (5th and Stewart). Bicycle commuting in Downtown Seattle is up 18 percent since 2010, and new investments such as Pronto Cycleshare and Protected Bike Lanes on Broadway and 2nd Avenue are enabling this growth to continue. As the days get shorter and the clocks change, Light Up Your Ride is a critical reminder to Downtown’s 6,500 bicycle commuters to make themselves visible to cars and buses.

An Australian study released in 2013 revealed that people bicycling without any lights or reflective clothing overestimated their visibility by 200 percent. Conversely, lights and reflective clothing are so effective that people using them actually underestimate their visibility. While front lights and rear reflectors are legally required, reflective clothing is underappreciated but often more impactful, especially when viewed from the side.

Light Up Your Ride is a fun and festive way to get this message out. Commute Seattle will be giving away RydeSafe reflective stickers to the first 500 attendees, and will also be raffling off two Citizen Night reflective messenger bags from Chrome Industries.  VeloBikeShop will display dozens of bike light varieties, Caffe Vita will provide afternoon coffee, Project 529 will showcase its pioneering bike security app, and representatives from Cascade Bicycle Club and the Seattle Department of Transportation will be on hand to answer any bike-related questions.

“Seattle’s transportation system works best when all users work together to ensure safety, visibility, and courtesy,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “We all share a mutual responsibility for safety, and I commend Commute Seattle for bringing attention to this critical issue as we head into winter.”

“Just as we can’t imagine a car being sold without lights, we must come to a similar understanding for people on bikes,” said Commute Seattle Executive Director Jessica Szelag. “Basic safety requires both lights and reflective surfaces, and Light Up Your Ride is our way of raising awareness of a serious issue in a really fun way.”

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80 responses to “Light Up Your Ride with Commute Seattle Thursday”

  1. Doug Bostrom

    Oh, boy, time to argue about bicycle lights!

    Tom, are you using a charger & battery with your dynamo, or going direct with maybe a stand light?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Stand lights are pretty much standard these days.

  2. jt

    I’ve used a Cygolite 500 for the last 12 months and it’s been fantastic. It has low, medium, high settings that correspond really well, respectively, to dusk riding, normal night riding, and night riding in a deserted pitch-black area (like a long ride home from Chateau Ste Michelle along the SRT and BGT…). There’s also a pure blinking light that’s so aggressive seeming I never use it, and a hybrid mode of a constant beam with periodic slight bursts. I use that last one if I’m riding in the road, in the dark, and it’s raining. Just feels like a nice nuclear option.

    My wife uses the Cygolite 360 and she loves it. I don’t think the upgrade to 500 lumens makes much difference, especially since I almost never use the high-power mode anyway.

    Battery life is ~2 hours for ~300 lumens. It’s USB rechargeable, and I recharge it once a week or so.

    These are both in the $50 to $70 range on amazon.

  3. Kirk

    I’m sensing the beginning of the annual bike light debate.
    It’s not too bright, don’t stare at it, and turn off the strobe on the trail.

    1. jt

      Haha, fair enough. Just to be clear: I don’t mean my comment as the opening shot in a debate, just sharing something that’s worked for me and some details about it, in case anyone finds the info useful.

    2. Sorry, that can’t be the last word in the “debate”.

      1. Many actual people on Seattle bike paths are using lights that are actually too bright… or if not simply too bright for conditions (conditions often including an unlit, wet surface), at least too bright at eye level. These lights actually do blind oncoming cyclists.

      2. The ability to see at night, and to avoid being blinded by oncoming lights, has a technique component (“don’t stare at it”) but also a considerable congenital component. In the lighting conditions common on Seattle bike paths I often have to actively shield out distracting light (e.g. oncoming bikes, oncoming cars on nearby roads, street lights for nearby roads, floodlights in Elliot Bay, etc.) to avoid near-blindness. Just because you can tolerate super-bright oncoming lights doesn’t mean everyone else can just by “not staring at it”.

      Therefore, everyone really does have a responsibility to make sure not to blind oncoming traffic when choosing their bike light setup. It sucks that there aren’t better standards with clear instructions for adhering to them, and it sucks that bike path lighting conditions are so lousy… but that’s just how it is.

      1. Ints

        “It sucks that there aren’t better standards with clear instructions for adhering to them, ”
        Buy lights approved for use in Germany as they do have lighting standards for bicycles, including beam patterns and cutoff. All bikes intended for use on public roads in Germany cannot be sold by an LBS without front and rear lights (similar to motorcycles here in the U.S.). Many of the lights used locally would be illegal in Germany as they create unsafe conditions for everyone.
        I use a Busch and Muller Cyo IQ, which is the best light I have ever owned.

      2. RTK

        In previous threads I have made it clear I am not a fan of strobes on the trails.

        Al makes an important point, just because you can tolerate the lights doesn’t mean everyone can. In my 50’s now and every year it seems I have a more difficult time looking “past” these lights. The darker regions of the trail are the worst for me due to the contrast between the surrounding dark and the bright light.

        Went to this event last year, enjoyed it and picked up a bunch of nice small reflective stickers and such.

      3. Alex

        Busch and Muller are the way to go. The Germans have bike lights down pat, largely due to them regulating bikes lights.

      4. MikeG

        I’ve often thought light manufacturers should include a laser diode from a laser pointer in their lights, specifically for a light setup mode. This would greatly simplify the correct alignment of the beam.

      5. Josh

        As a public service, trailheads could easily have bike headlight alignment checks… place your bike at point “A,” aim the headlight at signpost “B,” see if any of the high-intensity light hits above handlebar-level reflector “C.”

        Before there were high-and-low-beam car headlights, before car headlights were nearly as bright as today’s bike headlights, there were simple legal standards for aiming single-beam headlights on the road.

        RCW 46.37.240
        Single-beam road-lighting equipment.
        (1) The head lamps shall be so aimed that when the vehicle is not loaded none of the high intensity portion of the light shall at a distance of twenty-five feet ahead project higher than a level of five inches below the level of the center of the lamp from which it comes, and in no case higher than forty-two inches above the level on which the vehicle stands at a distance of seventy-five feet ahead;

        Or, in practical terms, aim the light slightly downward so that you don’t blind oncoming drivers.

        That’s a lot simpler than the complexities of German beam-pattern regulations, and it’s a standard that almost any existing bike headlight could meet if it’s aimed properly.

        As the kilolumen arms race continues, eventually, there will be regulation of bicycle headlight intensity and aim. Commercially-available LEDs exceed 200 lumens per Watt, and manufacturers have topped 300 lm/Watt in the next generation of LEDs.

        I think cycling advocacy groups should get in front of this issue with reasonable proposals like applying the language of RCW 46.37.240 to bicycle headlights, rather than wait for other interest groups (AAA, AARP?) to propose draconian restrictions.

      6. Tom Fucoloro

        Josh, a trail-side bike light aim calibrator is a fantastic idea. Would be a fun project, I bet. Who’s gonna make one?

      7. Josh

        It’s not labeled, but I made one years ago near my home.

        Takes all of five minutes, a foot of reflective tape, a dab of paint, and a tape measure.

        Find a suitable post on level ground, measure up 42 inches, wrap the tape around the post just above the 42-inch mark.

        Measure back 75 feet along level ground, and mark the bike location.

        You’re done, unless you want signs to tell everyone what it is…

        Also very easy to set up in parking garages, just mark the 42-inch line along the wall at the end of an aisle, and mark the 75-foot setback on the pavement of the aisle.

        I suspect most bike shops have enough room to do the same thing in their parking lots, if not indoors for larger shops.

      8. Josh

        A follow-up on the headlight alignment station idea, came to me while riding past a long wall of textured concrete…

        RCW 46.37.240 calls for a drop of at least five inches at 25 feet ahead of the headlamp. While it doesn’t legally apply to bikes, that seems like a very reasonable headlight angle for bikes — not aimed steeply down at the pavement, but aimed with the top of the beam below level, to avoid glare-blinding oncoming riders.

        Anywhere a bike path or trail runs beside a boring blank wall, it would be easy enough to add some sort of decorative lines at that same 5-inches-per-25-feet slope. Stop anywhere along the wall and see if your headlight beam stays below the line. No need for the average user to measure anything, just compare the light to the line.

      9. GlenBikes

        For those on the Eastside you are likely familiar with the Leary Way bridge over the Samammish River. This bridge is a great place to see how your headlight is angled (horizontal, slightly up/down or vastly up/down).

        Of course you need to first have a light with a cutoff to be able to see this (e.g. one of the imported German lights or a very small number of lights from US companies).

    3. Allan

      I see no reason why a bicycle should not have the same lights as a large motorcycle. I am building an 8 cell lithium battery so that I can duplicate a big Harley or Honda. Also they often run two or even 3 lights. We are not talking hundreds of lumens here but rather thousands. When I rode motorcycles I had no trouble with oncoming motorcycles on two lane country roads even when each was doing 70 mph for a combined oncoming speed of 140 mph. I have no problem in a car with oncoming cars. I think that maybe the problem here is that people want to ride in the dark with dismal lighting and than blame the other guy for disrupting their night vision or they are people who ride bicycles because they cannot see well enough to drive a car. A bicycle can easily hit 40mph downhill and needs to see that far ahead, a bicycle has worse stopping distance that a car or motorcycle. A bicycle is more vulnerable to people pulling out in front. A bicycle needs real lights.

      1. Josh

        The power of motorcycle lights would be fine if you also have the control of motorcycle lights. It’s illegal to sell or use uncontrolled round beam patterns as headlights on a street bike — they have sharp beam cutoffs so you can throw thousands of lumens on the pavement without throwing thousands of lumens into the eyes of oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

        The problem here is that peopled want the power of automotive lighting without the responsibility. Even a 500 lumen light would be illegal on a car or motorcycle with the beam pattern typical of a bicycle headlight today.

  4. Alex

    Bought a dynamo hub and lights a few years back. Stick the switch to Auto then never worry about lights again. Even though I’ve had it for years by now, I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I bike under the viaduct or an underpass or tunnel and see my lights automatically switch on.

    They’re practically standard fare in Japan and many European countries. It’s a shame they haven’t caught on more here.

    1. Josh

      I leave mine on instead of auto, after that Danish study found a significant reduction in collisions for cyclists using lights in daytime. Note that’s comparing riders with daytime running lights vs. cyclists with manually-switched lights, no unlighted cyclists to contaminate the results, and it’s in Denmark, where drivers are used to looking for cyclists already, so I would suspect the results are even stronger here.

      The safety effect of daytime running lights on bicycles was tested in a Danish study in 2005 (Madsen 2006). Nearly 2,000 cyclists in the town of Odense used the new induction lights for one year, while 2,000 others continued with ordinary bike lights, which were only switched on during dark hours. The accident frequencies of the two groups (based on self-reported accidents) were then compared and analysed.

      The main result was that use of daytime running lights was associated with a reduction of the number of crashes by more than 30%. The number of related crashes (crashes in daylight and with a counterpart) decreased by 50% approximately. Both results are statistically significant.


      1. Gary

        This study affirms my own observations which is that cars see me sooner if I am running lights during the day. And yes, in the summer you have to crank them up to show up sooner than I do just being on a bicycle.

  5. Mike

    Just saw this Kickstarter the other day. I haven’t bought in yet, but I’m thinking about it:


    1. Gary

      Looked way cool, especially the rear light. I can’t tell how focused the headlight is though.

      I have recommended it to at least two folks looking for high quality medium cost lights. The run time looks good, the build good for wet Seattle weather, the magnetic mount cool for city riding. Looks bright enough at 300L and 500L.

    2. Andrew Squirrel

      The rear light seem pretty decent but I see this happen all to often when designers think the front and rear lights can be identical in the way they diffuse & distribute the light but have two different color LEDs.
      In this instance it appears the designer didn’t take the cyclist desire to see obstacles into account when going cookie-cutter on the front light. The beam pattern looks horrible unless you are only going for “being seen”. I’d hate to ride around any road or trail absent of streetlights, you wouldn’t be able to see a pothole or jogger until you were under your tire.

      1. Gary

        I’ve emailed the designer, and yes, the front light is designed to be defuse and not blinding and thus as a single headlight would not meet my needs which is to see potholes as well as to be seen.

        However I’d rather have a set of these than a set of “monkey shines” or other spoke/wheel lights. And there are clearly conditions under which adequate side illumination is a life saver. Think merging traffic, they need to see you from the side as they approach.

    3. Alex

      Those lights look to have horribly unfocused beams and don’t have a beam cutoff to not blind people. No thanks.

    4. Allan

      At least the tail light looks good. Has the inventor tried dodging potholes, glass and other road trash at 20 mph+.

  6. GlenBikes

    I am fully in the dynamo hub group now too and love it. I still have some battery powered lights (additional rear lights and helmet light) but I never have to worry about being without lights any more.

    The bike industry needs to get onboard with this to bring down the prices though. It is expensive to “upgrade” a bike to what it should have had included when it was initially sold.

    1. Josh

      Few US retailers bother carrying inexpensive dynamo lights. Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats my Luxos U with a Schmidt SON hub, but a $25 headlight run by a $35 Sanyo dynamo hub is still far better lighting than most of what’s on the market in US shops.

    2. KateH

      Agreed on all counts! Anyone know of legislation we can support or people to write to, to that end?

      The guys at Ride Bicycles
      up near Cowen Park put a dynamo hub on my Long Haul trucker for me that powers both a strong front lamp and a tail light, and i love it every evening and gray day. They did a nice job with choosing components and wiring it up for me. Not super cheap, but cheaper than fussing with crappy usb chargers and Knog lights dying and lights being stolen off my bars and all that crap. Plus I just love the idea of powering my own lights, not creating extra waste! Next step: usb charger for my phone. :)

      1. Josh

        Luxos U headlights include a built-in USB charging port. (But cost more than a new Nexus-8 hub.)

  7. Gary

    Well the coolest thing about battery powered and LED lights is that the cost keeps dropping and the quality rises and the run time rises.

    I’ll make a shameless plug for my other favorite light manufacturer, http://www.dinottelighting.com and unlike Tom, I’ve run these for over 5 years now without problems.

    I also have a radical new light, a green laser which is great in full dark. http://www.blaze.cc (and here’s a discount coupon for it as well.. http://shopblazecc.refr.cc/HCD2S2L ) I like it but I only use the laser part after the seasonal time change. (Ie, It’s been sitting at home all summer) As I have plenty of other lights for the basic white/rear lights.

    1. Josh

      Ever have any negative reactions to the green laser?

      Lasers can throw really painful glare when they hit puddles, at least, green laser pointers can — how concentrated is the beam on the Blaze?

      Technically illegal in Washington, green is a reserved color, but I doubt there’s any risk of enforcement.

    2. Andrew Squirrel

      Wow! That green laser headlight is the worst idea I’ve seen in a long time.

      1. Alex

        Are blindingly bright and incessantly strobing lights not dangerous enough? Do you not piss enough people off and create dangerous situations at night? Great! Because now you can be even more inconsiderate of others and put LASERs on your bike! Wow! Amazing! Everyone will hate you even more!

      2. Allan

        Does anyone know where I can get Photon Torpedos?

    3. Gary

      Wow, what a lot of negative reactions! On the trail and roads I’ve had nothing but positive reactions.

      First: Unless it’s fully dark, it’s not visible to anyone. I rode with it yesterday first time since last spring when the clocks changed, and didn’t turn it on until 6:30pm. So as for brightness, nope. It’s neither blinding nor distracting. The image is wholly on the ground in front of me about 30 ft. At that distance the projection is about as wide as a sharrow. I’ve done a number of tests at home in various weather conditions and no street lights facing it trying to see how visible it is, driving toward it. It is not blinding by any stretch of the imagination, even on puddles. Think of a laser pointer and now spread that single point out over a 3ft image of a bicycle, For a rough estimate, assume two circles of 1.5 ft radius, and one triangle 1.5 equalateral. Now that’s roughly a line of 2 * (2 * pi * r) + (3 * 1.5) = (23.5 ft) so it’s 1/23 as bright as that single dot from a laser pointer….

      Now given that it’s not all that bright why use it? I find that having a projection of myself 20ft in front of myself has two advantages.

      First riding slowly up a sidewalk, the image is in front of the pedestrians, which alerts them to my presence behind them. Add a bell, and everyone moves aside and I don’t cause anyone any harm.

      Second, drivers turning (to the right) in front of me don’t drive on it. They either stop and wait for me to pass, or swing wide. In fact last night I got to see it in action where the road splits to the right and car whipped around me, started to cut me off, then swung wide and missed diving over the image.

      As for flashing lights. I use those during the daylight hours and switch everything to straight beams after full dark. Riding the Factoria hill in the rain on Monday night re-reminded me after I passed a guy with good, but not great lights, how much more light you need to stand out from traffic and be visible through a smeared windshield.

      If anyone on this list wants to meet up and see it in action, reply and we can set something up. I would have gone to tonights “Commute Seattle Lights” but it’s too in the evening to demo this light to any effect.

  8. Jim

    Regarding the bike paths like the SRT, I just don’t get it. In the summer, we are all of a like mind, doing something we enjoy, nodding at each other, and not harming anyone. But then winter comes and we slap some bright-as-daylight 500lumen strobing piece of the sun on our handlebars, and have little regard for other people on the trail. It’s asinine. How am I supposed to see the dressed-in-black ninja joggers running towards me in my lane in the fog with your light shining straight into my retinas. You all seem to be cuckoo and I’m not quite sure what is going on in your heads once we start losing daylight.

    1. Commute Seattle

      At the event tomorrow we’ll be telling as many people who will listen that steady beams are better for all users than flashing, not to mention technically illegal.

      1. Josh

        I suspect the safest for all is a modulated lightlight, not a full flash but a slight flickering. They’re legal and regulated for motorcyclists, definitely more conspicuous, but without the painful glare of a strobe. A few brands of bike lights have been adding a modulated option; more should copy them.

      2. Kirk

        Please get your facts right before spreading misinformation! Flashing tail lights are legal, as are flashing amber lights to the front.

      3. Commute Seattle

        Should have been clearer, yes we’ll be telling people that front white flashers should be avoided, but that red rear flashers are well within the law.

      4. Josh

        Does anyone know of a commercially-available set of amber flashers that meet the legal requirements of wide mounting and synchronized flashing?

      5. Gary

        That’s unfortunate:

        I highly recommend a test: Go to Second Ave and watch the approaching bicycles. Note when you identify “bicycle & rider” vs “bicycle lights” note whether you recognized it as a bicycle by it’s unique pattern, ie two lights one on top of the other, flashing, steady beam etc.

        Then get back to us about those illegal flashing lights. For my own testing flashing works best in daylight, with light over light at night.

      6. GlenBikes

        Yep. During the day and especially around dusk, with a solid light you are essentially invisible. I run my light on flash mode at dusk and don’t care about the law or the nonsensical cyclists who think that flashing lights blind them even when it is still light out and there is no way that they do. I would rather be alive than legal.

      7. GlenBikes

        I should add… on the trail is a different thing. I never use flash mode on the trail. There is no need except back when I used battery lights and I knew that my battery was almost dead and I would not make it home with lights unless I conserved battery by using flash mode.

        I am also forgiving of other cyclists using flash mode when it impacts me for exactly that reason. They may be someone who never flashes but is doing it that one time due to their on self-preservation.

      8. Gary

        Here’s an explaination of why a steady beam is worse than nothing during the day.



      9. Josh

        Danish results show a 50% reduction in daytime car/bike accidents when running steady lights.

        I’ve never seen a bike headlight large enough to be used for diffused lighting camouflage — I’d think the wind resistance of a 3-foot-tall headlight would be astounding, unless it were also shaped like a fairing.

        Bike lights, even more than car headlights, tend to be focused point sources with excellent conspicuity.

      10. I sometimes use a flasher on front when riding on roads during the day when it’s raining or foggy (I mostly don’t use taillights at all during these conditions because I don’t think they’re bright enough to actually make a difference). I think that can be a very appropriate use for it.

        If it’s dark enough outside that you mostly see other traffic by the light it casts rather than the light it reflects, you want your light to be solid. If it’s light enough outside that you mostly see other traffic by the light it reflects, then a flashing light just draws particular attention to yourself. That’s not always all that helpful — on a trail, or if you’re on a street with really heavy bike traffic. But if you’re riding in a bike lane on a street with lots of uncontrolled intersections/driveway crossings and there isn’t a lot of other bike traffic, it’s appropriate to make yourself especially conspicuous to oncoming left-turners and cross traffic. If I’m ever ticketed for this I’ll fight it using entertaining legal arguments and try to make some small corner of the news (i.e. the corner dedicated to ridiculing people doing ridiculous things), but fortunately for my dignity it’s unlikely to happen.

      11. ChefJoe

        Technically illegal. Like the cars that will park over the painted bike lane to make their right without hooking a cyclist is technically doing an illegal maneuver that makes it safer for the driver and the bicyclists who might approach from behind. I got it.

      12. Josh

        Actually, MUTCD and AASHTO bike lane standards assume that cars *will* merge into the bike lane before making a right turn — it’s explicitly required in many states. Oregon is the only state I know of where preventing right-hook crashes is clearly illegal.

        If cars can’t merge into the bike lane before making a right turn, then you’re routing through traffic to the right of turning traffic, which fails basic rules of traffic safety, unless they have entirely separate signal phases.

  9. Carl

    We need some signs on the burke to tell people not to strobe bright lights. I use a niteride 700 on low on the trail, pointed somewhat down and will shield it to oncoming traffic. When grouchy and I see someone strobing on the trail, I will turn on my high power strobe and ride straight at them and yell at them. I reverse commute (seattle to woodinville) and tell at least one person off every day I ride.

    1. Cheif

      Wow. Try cannabis.

    2. Allan

      You will make me re double my search for Photon Torpedos.

  10. Peri Hartman

    The real issue with bike lights is on the street. On the trail you do not have oncoming and turning cars.

    I have ridden on the street both with strobe and with solid light. With solid light, a number of times vehicles have pulled out from cross streets and apparently not seen me. That hasn’t happened with strobe.

    My hypothesis is that the solid light, when seen from more than 100′ or so appears to be stationary and blends in with other bright lights in the distance. The strobe may aspoear stationery, too, but it definitely draws more attention.

    We need a better bike light solution. I have some ideas which I may experiment with in November.

    1. Allan

      You need a strobe or 5000 lumens to stop cars pulling in front of you.

  11. […] – Light Up Your Ride […]

  12. sdv

    I wish we could find a brief saying (akin to “on your left”) that conveys that someone’s light needs to be redirected. With lights that are constantly being taken on and off handlebars (for charging or theft prevention) it’s hard to put them back consistently every time (top of my xmas list is dynamo hub lights so I’m hoping this will be a thing of my past). I try to be conscientious about my own lights, as I’m constantly getting annoyed when I’m blinded by others. But I realize it could just be that they aren’t aware where it’s pointing. But how do you convey that effectively when passing people on the bike path?

    1. Gary

      Put your arm up and shield your eyes….. Seems to convey the message pretty well.

      1. Josh

        LOL… watched a near-accident today on my way to work.

        Rider overtaking me had a retina-searing strobe, oncoming rider shielded his eyes with his left arm, and veered left as a result, and almost had a head-on with the strobing rider, who veered right to avoid the blinded rider, and almost took out my front wheel.

        Everyone kept on riding down the trail, strobing rider kept his strobe going, I slowed down to let him get farther ahead of me.

      2. sdv

        No, it doesn’t. And apparently saying “your light’s too bright” doesn’t either.

      3. Josh

        Putting the message out there clearly doesn’t force anyone to receive it…

  13. Kirk

    Regarding the European style lights, they are awesome, I run a Busch & Müller Luxos U with a generator hub, and it is amazing. However, it really needs to be noted that the European laws also specify a white reflector be run with these lights on the front of the bike. This is because the top cut off of the beam makes the light much more difficult to see for oncoming traffic.
    While I run a diffuse amber flasher on the front, it is completely legal to run a flashing white light while riding on the sidewalk, and I use mine while riding over the Ballard Bridge (on the sidewalk). The flashing white light “flashes” the street signs, so that pedestrians that will be overtaken will be able to know that I am approaching long before I get there.

    1. Gary

      Actually the sign reflective material does a fantastic job of reflecting the light back at you, to others to the side… not so much. The stuff is designed to not dispurse the light but to return it to it’s source. Which makes sense, in that they want you, the driver/rider to see the sign, not anyone else. Their lights are for them.

    2. Josh

      Where do you get that flashing white lights are legal on sidewalks?

      Bicycle lighting requirements apply “whenever a bicycle is operated upon any highway or upon any bicycle path,” and “highway” is defined to include the entire public right-of-way, as opposed to “roadway,” which is the part of the “highway” set aside for vehicles, excluding the sidewalk.

      A bicycle on a sidewalk is a bicycle on a “highway,” but is not a bicycle on a “roadway.” (And a bicycle path is a “highway” that doesn’t have any “roadway”.)

      I am not a lawyer, but I deal with them enough to suspect that a bicycle on a sidewalk is still bound by laws that apply to a bicycle on a highway, but not the requirements that apply only on a roadway. (For example, the requirement to ride on the right applies only on the roadway, but you’re allowed to ride against traffic on a sidewalk.)

      1. Gary


        It would appear that a bicycle on a sidewalk is a “pedestrian” for the purposes of traffic laws, and AFAIK there is no laws pertaining to lights on pedestrians (other than the prohibition of shining lasers at aircraft….)

        But I’m not a lawyer but love to argue…..

      2. Gary

        Oh yeah, “sidewalks” are spelled out to be “not roadway”

        RCW 46.04.500 Definition of “Roadway.”

        “Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles. In the event a highway includes two or more separated roadways, the term “roadway” shall refer to any such roadway separately but shall not refer to all such roadways collectively.

      3. Kirk

        Exactly. Bicycles on sidewalks are treated as pedestrians, and there are no light restrictions on pedestrians. Helmet laws do apply, as those are not traffic laws, but health code laws. Go figure…

      4. Josh

        Right, sidewalks are not “roadway,” they are only “highway.” Various bicycle regulations do continue to apply on sidewalks. 46.61.755 gives cyclists on sidewalks the rights of pedestrians, but does not say anything about waiving the duties of bicyclists. (For example, bicycles on sidewalks were identical to pedestrians, the requirement that cyclists yield to pedestrians would be meaningless.)

        Bicyclists on sidewalks are still bicyclists, not pedestrians, but they have the rights and duties of pedestrians in addition to the duties of bicyclists operating on a highway outside of the roadway.

    3. Kirk

      Gary, I understand how reflectivity works. But you see, I am hoping to get the attention of the pedestrians directly in front of me, walking away from me, on the sidewalk. Believe me, they see the signs-a-flashin’! And so do the cars travelling in the same lane right behind me.

      1. Gary

        This is where my laser works wonders. (Blaze.cc)

    4. Douglas

      “This is because the top cut off of the beam makes the light much more difficult to see for oncoming traffic.”

      This has not been my observation. Dyno lights are very, very visible even during the day.

      1. Allan

        Perhaps someone needs to manufacture sidemarker specific lights. They would only need about a quarter watt, yellow front and red on the back and aimed to each side. I thought about finding a small disco ball to mount in front of my head light. I can’t find one though.

      2. Josh

        Luxos U dynamo headlights have side-spill designed into the optics, specifically to make the headlight more visible from the sides.

        Unlike Washington, California actually mandates side-visibility in its bicycle headlight requirement, though the majority of bicycle headlights on the U.S. market ignore those requirements, and there doesn’t seem to be any active enforcement.

  14. Allan

    My suggestion, buy this. http://www.ebay.com/itm/10000lm-7x-Cree-XM-L-T6-MTB-Bike-Bicycle-Cycling-Head-Light-Headlamp-Headlight-/181404732733?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a3c908d3d
    If the link doesn’t work go to ebay and search….10000lm 7x Cree XM-L T6 MTB Bike Bicycle Cycling Head Light Headlamp Headlight
    I do think you will need to build your own battery if you expect to use this anywhere near high power for very long. Also they are lying and it probably only puts out 5000 lumens. My biggest only only has 6 of these t6 led’s. I really like the 5 led and the 3 led versions. The 3 led can run 1 or 2 or all 3 led’s. I think that if you spend a lot of money and buy the Dinot version you will be getting the same thing but with much better batteries and it might be assembled in the USA. If you want something better I can suggest my old system. I used 3 separate t6 units each equal to the 700 lumen units of today. I aimed one about 25 feet in front and one about 50 to 75 feet in front and one right down the road for far away obstacles. I could see glass on wet pavement with that system and every once in a while someone would winge about it. Someone will love me for telling them how to get these lights and someone will hate me for telling them how to get these lights.

    1. Gary

      “they are lying”… because I can, I choose not to buy from any supplier that I know is in some way “lying” to me.

      What could go wrong?… well I used to run gel Lead acid batteries and the wiring frayed and it caught fire!…. fortunately I was around the second time it did it and it didn’t burn my house down… the first time I just lost my air horn and the brake cable (melted into a plastic heap)

      Lastly, I’ve had my light system fail in the worst weather, leaving me 6 miles from home without lights. After that hair raising experience, I no longer buy “cheap”.

      But if I was poor’er I’d consider this vs nothing.

      1. Allan

        Yes, they exagerate but the quality of these are great. Secondly, unlike you I am competent to manage my batteries and I just finished building an 8 cell Lithium Ion battery pack. Furthermore after the Boeing incident, and the Tesla incident I conversed with the fire department and they have had no problems re small Li I batteries. Furthermore if you think a name brand protects you think again. DeWalt had Charger Recalls and Black and Decker has had recalls on cordless mowers due to fire hazards. They also had recalls on switches in drills. I don’t know everyone’s recalls but there are plenty I am sure. You should have noticed frayed wires, your fault. Probably name brand stuff too. I built many ni cad battery packs into bottles in the past. I have been using ebay lights from China for years now without failures. You can squander you money on dog poo for all I care but it does not always get you something better. I’ll bet the lighting system that failed you in bad weather was a name brand too. Why didn’t you have a small back up light with you. You could get a tiny effectively 700 lumen light with batteries and charger for $20 off ebay. The cost is not the consideration here, it is seeing the road and getting value for money. You don’t need to buy one this big, I usually use the 3 led version similar to the Dinot. But, it you are on forest trails at night you want to see all you can. Furthermore if the grid goes down you will want to have all the flashlights and batteries that you can possibly have. If the grid goes down $300 worth of ebay bike lights, flashlights and batteries will be a lot more useful than one generator light.

      2. Allan

        One more thing, most suppliers are in some way lying to you. Natural foods can be GMO covered in Agent Orange. Bicycle weights are usually the smallest size with the pedals off. The government and the news media are lying to you. Your girlfriend is lying to you. I was just giving you a heads up that you won’t really get 10,000 lumens but you will get a lot and you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between 4,000 6,000 or 10,000 anyway.
        Also consider that you can buy as many batteries of whatever quality as you want for these. That will give you more power for longer than a bike shop light with a built in battery. You can buy these lights with any number of leds from 1 to 9, they all have variable power. The single led is equal to a 700 to 800 lumen bike shop light. I have the 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 led versions. The 5 and 6 pulse like a motorcycle light although I cannot measure them to be sure it is within bounds. There is no dark between the pulses. They keep cars from pulling out in front of you. I also have a couple of dozen led-li ion flashlights from China and tons of batteries and you can put them on your handlebars as well if you want to. They sell mounts, mounting bands, or you can just use a Lance Armstrong wrist band. Ebay gives you the most for your money and I far prefer what I can get there to anything I can get anywhere else. Also put led bulbs throughout my house to save electricity.

    2. Josh

      If the 10,000 lumen claim were true, it would be more than six times what my car’s low-beam headlights put out. Doesn’t look like it has nearly enough heat sink to actually drive the LEDs at their rated output for long, but even 5,000 lumens is much brighter than ordinary low-beam car headlights.

      As that sort of firepower comes down in price, beam pattern regulation is clearly going to be necessary — even 500 lumens in a conical flashlight-style beam pattern would be illegal on a car because of the glare hazard for oncoming drivers.

      1. Allan

        Anyway you wouldn’t run them on full power all the time just as you don’t drive around with you car lights on high beam. It is very nice to have a high beam on your car when you want it. Standard lights on many cars suck also and that is why a lot of people upgrade them. The bigger lights like this pulse like a motorcycle light for daytime use. The 3 led unit is really ideal and it has settings for high, medium and low as well as strobe. The bigger 5 and 6 led units pulse like a motorcycle light for daytime. The majority of bicycle light makers exagerate their output and they like to measure with a fresh off the charger battery when you first turn it on. Also, no matter what light you buy, the lower the setting the longer the battery lasts and most good bike lights use the same T6 led. Another great thing about these lights is that you can buy additional batteries and you can choose the quality as well. You can also build you own battery packs if you want and purchase wide angle add ons that fit the 3 led version. It is very nice to be able to run a bright light on a dark lonely road.

  15. […] p.m., exposing pedestrians and cyclists to extra danger. Last week, Commute Seattle held a “Light Up Your Ride,” event at  McGraw Plaza to distribute […]

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