feel good . do good . look good — cycling


November 17th, 2010

I have deleted several long posts, I think I’m going to leave this with a few short thoughts:

1) I compared my blinkie to the hazard lights flashing on a UPS truck on Marlborough St., a car on Newbury St., and a Comcast truck in the South End. My blinkie was dimmer than all of them, and really the Comcast truck looked like a mobile disco. Unlike these empty double-parked vehicles, my bike has a largely unprotected cyclist on it (I do wear a helmet but…).

2) My blinkie is also less bright than the turn signals of cars, as best as I can determine.

3) I drove a car through the city recently and naturally was attuned to looking for cyclists, particularly watching for any bike ninjas without any lights at all (note that most drivers are not that careful). Driving past the movie theater I saw a light on the other side of the street. My first thought was cyclist, turns out it was just the reflection of a movie theater light on the side of a shiny trash can. The city is filled with lights, those which are identifiably cyclists help a great deal in actually seeing the cyclist.

4) As someone who has personally experienced a seizure and been treated for them, I have first hand knowledge of the discomfort of blinking lights. No, I don’t love them. Yes, I do notice them. Yes, I’ve learned in my life how to deal with them. I don’t stare at them. I don’t watch Pokemon. What more can I say? We’re not about to outlaw the turn signal! There is a very good reason our society has settled on the blinking light as a signal for “there’s something unexpected in your roadway here, be aware”.

I do switch to solid lights when there are cyclists going my direction for a long period of time. I do blink on my evening commute. These are very different situations.

There is a small but very vocal anti-blinkie contingent here. I respect your choice. I have good reasons for mine, please respect them.

4 Responses to “Blinkies”

  1. Paul Schimek Says:

    You can get extra bright rear lights such as the Planet Bike Blinky Superflash or the Cateye TL-LD110.

    I recommend putting all lights on steady mode (not blinking) because it is easier to judge distance from a steady light, and you will look more like all the other vehicles on the road.

  2. Paul Schimek Says:

    Correction: I see you already have the Superflash.

    Congrats to Mike Halle for getting BPD to warn cyclists on the SW Corridor to use lights at night.

  3. Gerry Says:

    I use flashing lights because I believe they get more attention. Multiples sometimes. I see them better when I drive, as well.

  4. geoff Says:

    I was using a blinking headlight on the Charles River Path one night. An oncoming cyclist shouted at me: “don’t use your blinky at night!”. I set my head light to steady. About 5 minutes later an oncoming cyclist shouted at me: “your head light is too bright!”. Screw it.

    When there’s no available ambient light I go steady. When there is, I go blinky, and here’s why: on the path, coming up on walkers/joggers going my way, the blinky is better because they see the strobing reflections on objects in front of them. Bells and “on your left” ineffective for headphone-wearing wakers/joggers.

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