How to be Seen at Night

Bicycle related chatter & discussion
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JoTheBuilder
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Postby JoTheBuilder » 01 May 2015, 14:33

I had my first late night commute last night post daylight savings to the new place in Rockdale.

And it was daaaaark. Particularly Bourke Rd Cycleway that runs up past The Grounds of Alexandria and then Bunnings.

The issue was not my lights - they shone up the pathway fine. But twice both myself, and the cyclist in front me, were the subject of near misses where cars coming from industrial estate driveways, across the cycleway, barely stopped as it looked like they couldn't see us.

So my question is, what are some suggestions to make myself more visible. I have strong front and rear lights and a hi-vis jacket (though I was not wearing the jacket last night as it is too warm).

I'm thinking:
1. Additional rear light to my backpack or helmet;
2. Additional front blinky light to my helmet;
3. Light up spokey dokes;
4. Light up body harness.

Any other suggestions? For those that drive, what makes a cyclist stand out?

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Stuart
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Postby Stuart » 01 May 2015, 14:50

I'd say more likely they weren't even looking for cyclists and nothing would help.

But, extra front strobe light is a good idea - I run two lights in winter, both of them on. I've gone off the idea of mounting anything on a helmet since my crash as the camera I had on there may have compromised the integrity of the protection offered by the helmet.

John Mason
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Postby John Mason » 01 May 2015, 21:57

I've been commuting home that way for the past three years.

In my view if you are heading south, the road is safer than the cycle path, unless you want to ride in a completely defensive mode and give way everywhere.

more recently I've started using O'Riordan to head south rather than riding south on the road down Bourke street. there is less traffic furniture, less side road entries, and no car driver has yelled at me to get off the road & ride on the cycle path.

Generally i find cycle paths are only safer if you are willing to slow down everywhere & give way to anything, and if you are going the same direction as the traffic along side you, not against it.

best of luck.

John

Anthony K
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Postby Anthony K » 02 May 2015, 00:23

Where to begin:

Of all the things I have tried to make night commuting safer the thing that I think has made the biggest difference is using a helmet mounted blinky.
I have thought about helmet integrity in a crash and have come to the conclusion that preventing a crash is my first priority.
I am very conscious that it can potentially be dazzling and take great care to minimise this. I have the light angled below my line of sight so that it only goes straight in someone's face when I intend it to. When a vehicle approaches from the side that looks concerning, my gaze automatically goes to the vehicle and the light follows. This has pretty well eliminated SMIDSY for me at night but I still get a few during the day.

Flouro reflective workmans vest that is big enough to go over my backpack can be worn year round. $10 from any hardware shop.

I always have two headlights and two tail lights at night.

I find Bourke Rd Cycleway tricky in many spots. Lots of driveways that can have vehicles going out or in. Lots of shicanes around bus stops. It is very easy to find yourself going too quickly in places.

I ceased caring about what a
muppet I look like when I'm in full flouro blinko reflecto mode when the lady in the 4wd who had just hit the cyclist behind me said: "I saw you, i didn't see him".

Strawburger
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Postby Strawburger » 02 May 2015, 11:14

I am not condoning this, just pointing out an observation.

My rear blinky died last night close to home on my commute. Conversely to comments above, the motorised vehicles took a wider path around me as they took extra precaution in passing an object that wasn't lit.

Another observation, I've also felt far safer since ditching the reflective vest after my large accident resulting in broken ribs and wrist. The driver said they didn't see me, even with two front and rear lights pointing at different angles, the vest and a well lit road.

These two cases seem to mentally shift the responsibility of safety from the cyclist to the driver. Drivers somehow take more care the less safety equipment the cyclist has.

I also avoid paths if at all possible.

Let's not get into the helmet debate though :)

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mikesbytes
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Postby mikesbytes » 02 May 2015, 15:24

Unfortunately some will not see you unless there is a need to be seen. The brain is designed to see what you need (aka the hunter and gatherer) and see what will kill you, aka the lion, which nowadays is a 1,000Kg+ metal object heading towards you. A casual glance isn't going to see something that doesn't threaten you.

The following jackets are probably more noticeable than a high visibility vest;




Traditionally I've commuted with 2 bike headlights, a 2w and a 0.5w with different flash rates. I feel that the different intensities and flashing made variation which hopefully would make me more visible. What I can say is that I haven't T-boned a car since using that front light setup.

Another thing I did was switch to rechargeables as there was a tendency to run disposable light batteries down. I recall about say 2003 an older cyclist ride up behind me and say "you better ride with me, despite have 3 tail lights your visibility is very good"

And about 8 years ago Anthony K gave me some advice. He said when he was driving he would look at cyclists and see what made them more or less noticeable

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JoTheBuilder
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Postby JoTheBuilder » 05 May 2015, 10:44

Thanks all.

I got rid of my hi-vis vest a while ago. Just annoying to ride in and the velcro made my knicks go fuzzy.

I certainly look out for cyclists while driving and keep an eye out for what works. 2 rear lights gets a definite tick from me. While I certainly give cyclists with no lights a wide berth, that's assuming I see them in the first place. Also found this on Wiggle:
http://www.wiggle.com.au/oxford-commuter-x4-rear-light/

John, thanks for the tip. I will have a look at O'Riordan. I quite often skip the Bourke Rd cycleway on the way to work as the intersection at The Grounds can be reasonably dangerous riding on the pavement. At the moment I avoid the whole thing as it has not been cleaned since the storms so is full of mud and debris.

But you're not wrong Stuart. To have a cycleway running along the Murray bus depot and numerous concrete plants is fraught with risk already. Not only do you have heavy vehicles with minimum vision, but they are all heavily used driveways all day.

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JoTheBuilder
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Postby JoTheBuilder » 14 May 2015, 10:43

If anyone has a spare 3.5 hours, this is an interesting read:

https://rideonmagazine.com.au/top-150-b ... cKUg%3D%3D

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JoTheBuilder
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Postby JoTheBuilder » 14 May 2015, 11:06

OK, so the nerd in me has copied and pasted this table into Excel so I can filter by visibility. The top 5 lights by visibility are:
FRONT
Full Beam Trail Torch $359.00 www.fullbeam.com.au
Lezyne Macro Drive front $74.95 monzaimports.com.au
Moon Mask front $59.95 Cyclewest Agencies <cwa@bigpond.net.au>
ES Gamma Ray $130.00 www.echelonsports.com.au
Moon Power 500 front $149.95 Cyclewest Agencies <cwa@bigpond.net.au>

REAR
S-Sun Eaglefly $25.00 diggari.com.au
Tioga Dual Eyes USB $39.99 www.bicorp.com.au
BBB BLS-Highlaser $34.95 bbbcycling.com
Moon Shield rear $59.95 Cyclewest Agencies <cwa@bigpond.net.au>
ES Beacon $50.00 www.echelonsports.com.au

In regards to visibility they do also make this point:
"But more than the lights you use, there are good practices you can adopt for maximum visible impact. Using a flashing mode for your lights is one of those. Research also shows that handlebar and seat-post mounted lights are the most visible to motor vehicle traffic. So helmet-mounted lights are out on that count—as well as because they are a terrible menace to other road users—as are lights attached to backpacks and clothes. So you should mount your lights on your bike."

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Stuart
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Postby Stuart » 14 May 2015, 11:58

So they're saying I wasted my $$ with the Supernova Airstream .... https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/08/sup ... ght-light/ (Joanne's using it now anyway :-) )

Anthony K
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Postby Anthony K » 14 May 2015, 13:50

I see this article as a bit of agree and a bit of disagree.

The ratings in the article are based on being seen rather than being able to see so they really only capture half of the problem.

The article completely skips the conclusion a number of people above have come to that two lights are better than one, front and back. Two lights gives important redundancy when one light gives up mid commute. As the article says you can't just pop spare batteries in anymore.

For front lights, two lights can help answer the quandary between being able to see and being seen.

For rear lights I think a seat post mount AND a helmet mount is way way better than just a seat post mount when there are cars around because the seat post mounted light often hides behind the body of car in front. It can be tricky to find a light than fits well on your particular helmet but I will make this a mandatory part of my criteria for next helmet purchase.

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JoTheBuilder
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Postby JoTheBuilder » 14 May 2015, 14:03

I did also notice the absence of the 'two light' debate Anthony. But they are testing the individual lights on their merit and for my mind, being seen is more important commuting in Sydney. Which is not to say that 'seeing' is not important but I think most of these lights would do that reasonably well anyway.

For cost and visibility I think I am going to give the Moon Mask a go.

My old Light and Motion did also score highly. But twice it has filled up with water in the rain and given up the ghost.

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mikesbytes
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Postby mikesbytes » 14 May 2015, 22:33

Seems no need to spend 1/2 hour reading the article as you guys/gals have done it for me

Dual lights also give you more size, you look more like an object rather than a single point of light

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Stuart
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Postby Stuart » 15 May 2015, 09:43

@Anthony K - I'd be wary of mounting a light on the back of your helmet. Trouty had one and when she had a crash where she hit the back of her head on the road, the light smashed the back of her helmet and dug into her head .. causing injury where none should have happened.

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geoffs
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Postby geoffs » 20 May 2015, 17:49

Hi Jo
Ban SMIDSY I say!!!
have a light with a narrow beam on your helmet such as http://www.dx.com/p/ultrafire-u-1-900lm ... Vw5mFmeDRY
to shine at those pesky drivers that are thinking about pulling out in front of you.
One of these http://www.dx.com/p/singfire-sf-90-cree ... 650-172326#.VVw6tlmeDRY for your handlebars as it has a wider beam and is good for spotting potholes.
You will need adaptors for the chargers as they always send them out with an US plug. buy a couple of spare batteries as they are pretty crappy

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utopia
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Postby utopia » 21 May 2015, 09:20

2 things

This in your front wheel
http://www.monkeylectric.com/

This on your helmet. I get them from Pushys
http://www.pushys.com.au/light-motion-v ... vAodNqwAag

Or for free, ride naked. Apparently that works too.

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jonboy
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Postby jonboy » 22 May 2015, 09:43

If you are in the market for a good quality light for commuting I have this one which is for sale for less than $30. I think I paid about $80. It's a bit weighty and on full power it doesn't last that long but it's very bright and I like the side orange lights too. Especially good if your commuting takes to through unlit roads. USB powered.

http://www.pushys.com.au/light-motion-u ... t-red.html

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JoTheBuilder
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Postby JoTheBuilder » 22 May 2015, 10:18

How is that so cheap!!!?

It's the 200 and the new models are out so maybe they are rolling out the old ones.

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ratzzzzz
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Postby ratzzzzz » 27 May 2015, 10:23


interesting concept. I try and avoid anything that can't be recharged but interesting

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jimmy
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Postby jimmy » 29 May 2015, 11:56

When I saw the thread title, why did I think of this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltmMJntSfQI

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JoTheBuilder
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Postby JoTheBuilder » 16 Jun 2015, 10:01

These look great. I'd question the battery life but a good commuter solution:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/di ... ike-lights

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avocom
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Postby avocom » 24 Jun 2015, 22:32


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JoTheBuilder
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Postby JoTheBuilder » 26 Jun 2015, 12:11

I'd be up for the second light Andre. Count me in.

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avocom
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Postby avocom » 27 Jun 2015, 12:26

Hi Jo

I'm sorry, but I have already ordered it. I got the $85 option which isn't too bad. Hurry, there are still a few $85 packages and there are only 9 hours for the project to end...

PJCampbell
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Postby PJCampbell » 01 Jul 2015, 10:57

Have you seen this spray on solution by... ahem... a car company synonymous for their 'safety record'.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfWzeGlaFvI

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weiyun
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Postby weiyun » 04 Aug 2015, 08:02


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Stuart
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Postby Stuart » 05 Aug 2015, 09:03



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