View Full Version : bike lights

05-18-2012, 03:49 PM
It's been a while since I've needed to ride a bicycle at night. But the opportunity to do so again has presented itself... what are the laws now? It looks like I just need a white light in front, and red reflector in back- http://colobikelaw.com/law.php

but I see bikes with flashing red lights, is that just for added safety then? :confused: yes, it's really been like 15 years since I've ridden at night. :o

05-18-2012, 04:03 PM
I ride with at least one blinking red in the back. The blinking makes a difference in getting you noticed. I've got stacks of them, Cateye, Niterider, Novara. IMHO they're all about the same and should be about $10 or so and use a single AA or AAA battery. I sometimes run one on the bike and another on my backpack or Timbuk2 bag. It's not really possible to have too many blinkies.

Depending on the condition the front light will vary. Most typically is a Niterider MiNewt on my helmet. Bright enough to actually see but not so bright as to be irritating to on coming traffic. The one I have has a built-in USB port to recharge it, this is uber convenient.

If I'm pub commuting in town, I just use a to-be-seen front light, a AA Maglite, a blinking white forward light, etc. This is within areas with street lights since I prefer not to ruin my night vision. Away from street lights it's usually the MiNewt of another 3W Cree headlight I made that uses a bottle cage battery.

05-18-2012, 04:08 PM
Great info Dave, thanks. Would a headlamp qualify as a forward facing light? again I don't really care about being able to see, it's only about not becoming needlessly detained.. ;)

05-18-2012, 04:15 PM
Oh, gotcha. Cops could seem to give two poops other than busting you for rising on the sidewalks downtown or excessively blinding them with your headlamps. Trust me, that is a sure way of getting noticed, looking right at one with your aimed-too-high 500 lumen HID. It really about not getting squashed, so don't worry too much about the letter of the law. It also says you're supposed to register and license your bike...

05-18-2012, 05:58 PM
I've done a bunch of riding in the dark, primarily early morning. Most of the riding was on a multi-use path. For the portion that is on streets with traffic it was very important to be visible to traffic. Statiscially speaking the odds are pretty good you'll not ever have an incident. That said, I want to be visible.

I made a homebrew light running off a 14.4 volt battery and it was great for illuminating the path in front of me. I'm not a fast rider to begin with but a good light will allow you to ride faster than a bad light or no light. Really, it is all about being able to see the one out of a thousand events with enough time to make them non-events:D.

I did use a helmet light (in addition to the headlight) for a while. Thing with the helmet light is that the light follows your head. I didn't really care for it.

I bought the brightest biggest blinking light (at the time Planet Bike) I could find for the rear. It was a bit pricey, but worth the cost to me.

I also added reflector tape so the outline of the bike will show when headlights hit it. Reflectors on the wheels really jump out because they are moving.

Like I said above, it really depends on where you are doing your riding as to how much light you need. If you are entirely on paths and are not fussed that you will move slower than riding in daylight - your light needs are not the same as in a different situation.

05-22-2012, 07:42 AM
Its been a while but I was car-less for a number of years and commuted year round in Madison, WI and SLC, UT. I used a NightSun handlebar light which at the time was probably the brightest thing available. I preferred the handlebar light as it always was pointed in the direction I was going and the shadows were at a consistent height. I never liked the headlamp thing at the time. For the rear the biggest blinker light I could find. My bike shoes had reflective stuff, most do. And on my cyclocross (main commuter) I had a little tape on it.

Like Dave said its more about being seen than the law. I was never stopped for lighting. Just traffic violations :o In todays market I'd probably point you towards something like this for a headlight http://www.niterider.com/rechargeable-new/minewt-mini-300-usb-plus-new/ then just find a blinker you like. They all work and last forever. I aways got a seat post mounted one personally.