do flashing lights help drivers see you?

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Postboxer
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby Postboxer » 6 Jan 2014, 5:44pm

Would having a light illuminating the rider work, rather than lots of point light sources not actually shining on anything?

TonyR
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby TonyR » 6 Jan 2014, 6:13pm

Take a hint from the aircraft industry. Flashing lights for being noticed, steady lights so that people can judge your speed and direction.

P.S. What I find works quite well is a couple of small lights pointed so as to illuminate your body front and back, making it obvious you are a person, not just a mystery set of lights.

kwackers
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby kwackers » 6 Jan 2014, 7:12pm

TonyR wrote:Take a hint from the aircraft industry. Flashing lights for being noticed, steady lights so that people can judge your speed and direction.

Aircraft lights flash for different reasons. They're very high power so not practical to replace with similar fixed lights and flash because as potentially point sources seen from many miles away they need to be obvious against other point sources (i.e. street lights and car headlights) when viewed from above.

I think the flashing is a red herring. IME people see you but what you want to do is stop them disregarding you and nothing says "cyclist" faster than a flashing light...
Lighting yourself up on the other hand probably works quite well since it's unusual and would make them look twice.

thirdcrank
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby thirdcrank » 6 Jan 2014, 8:27pm

It's now going back a while but my first real experience of truly powerful bike lamps was with Cateye Daylites (circa 1996) I had a 6V 6W system with the plain torch-type head and the difference as compared with Ever Ready lamps was amazing. I'm pretty sure many drivers thought it must be some sort of motorbike. I also suspect they associated a brighter light with higher speed. So, I think there's a combination of factors: weak bike lamps may not be easily seen in a moving queue of motor traffic and a cyclist may be perceived as a gap. Then, I think that brighter lights are associated with more powerful vehicles than bikes. I could easily believe that a driver seeing any sort of light that immediately identified a cyclist might decide to ignore them, or at least their safety.

Bright lights, flashing or not, must sure be counter-productive if they dazzle other road users. :?

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ArMoRothair
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby ArMoRothair » 6 Jan 2014, 9:54pm

The copper who showed me around the HGV in the Met's exchanging places programme told me he has been knocked off his police motorbike twice. That's a full-sized BMW K1000 with all the hi-viz in the world and two motorists still managed to 'sorry I didn't see you'.

Whether your light flashes or not won't overcome such plonkerdom.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 6 Jan 2014, 10:29pm

ArMoRothair wrote:The copper who showed me around the HGV in the Met's exchanging places programme told me he has been knocked off his police motorbike twice. That's a full-sized BMW K1000 with all the hi-viz in the world and two motorists still managed to 'sorry I didn't see you'.

Whether your light flashes or not won't overcome such plonkerdom.


And they regularly hit ambulances with blues going - visibility isn't the key to not getting hit.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
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martinn
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby martinn » 6 Jan 2014, 10:46pm

thanks for all the comments.
I think I will try having one flashing and one not, but also expecting the drivers not to see me.
seems to be the way to maximise my chances
martin

bogmyrtle
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby bogmyrtle » 6 Jan 2014, 11:08pm

Martin,
If your problem was at a roundabout, I suggest a small helmet mounted flashing light in addition to your fixed handlebar lights. The benefit is that you can direct this light toward cars that are liable to pull out into your path by just looking in the direction of the car. Providing drivers are looking to the right as they should do before pulling out, they should a) see the flashing light and b) realise that you are looking at them and should not pull out in front of you.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

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mjr
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby mjr » 6 Jan 2014, 11:20pm

Fixing a light or camera to a helmet seems like a good way to ensure something stabs you in the head, even if you think helmets are worth using.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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bogmyrtle
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby bogmyrtle » 6 Jan 2014, 11:33pm

mjr wrote:Fixing a light or camera to a helmet seems like a good way to ensure something stabs you in the head, even if you think helmets are worth using.


Not if you are careful about the type of light you use and where and how you mount it.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

TonyR
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby TonyR » 6 Jan 2014, 11:36pm

mjr wrote:Fixing a light or camera to a helmet seems like a good way to ensure something stabs you in the head, even if you think helmets are worth using.


Just wondering if that was what happened to Schumacher.

Mark1978
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby Mark1978 » 7 Jan 2014, 9:45am

Case in point about flashing lights. Driving up the A1(M) last night, some way in the distance off the motorway I see a flashing blue light, and notice it's coming towards the motorway, probably about a few minutes before I get to the junction, and sure enough just as I get to the junction there's a police car coming out. Never would have noticed if it was a steady light.

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PaulCumbria
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby PaulCumbria » 7 Jan 2014, 3:26pm

martinn wrote:thanks for all the comments.
I think I will try having one flashing and one not, but also expecting the drivers not to see me.
seems to be the way to maximise my chances
martin

I'd go further still. Don't EXPECT them not to see you, PRESUME they haven't seen you. It'll make your progress round roundabouts slower and (even) more stressful, but I reckon it's the best way to survive these uniquely cyclist-unfriendly junctions.

Geriatrix
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby Geriatrix » 7 Jan 2014, 3:46pm

Unfortunately this study is hidden behind a paywall but the following quote jumped out in the summary:
In the dark, red/orange/yellow upper body clothing and tail lights increased the odds of a bicyclist-motor vehicle crash.

Tail lights *increased* the odds of a crash?
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

bogmyrtle
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Re: do flashing lights help drivers see you?

Postby bogmyrtle » 7 Jan 2014, 7:08pm

Geriatrix wrote:Unfortunately this study is hidden behind a paywall but the following quote jumped out in the summary:
In the dark, red/orange/yellow upper body clothing and tail lights increased the odds of a bicyclist-motor vehicle crash.

Tail lights *increased* the odds of a crash?


Target?
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.