Front Helmet Lights

by davidw07   December 11, 2012  

Driving last night I came within a second or two of knocking a commuter cyclist off his bike and my immediate excuse would have been "sorry mate I didn't see you"

I had stopped at a 'T' junction on a dark country road and the cyclist came from the right hand side and I didn't see him until he passed the front of the car.

I followed him convinced he didn't have a front light, which was surprising as he had two rear lights and was wearing reflective clothing - not the sort not to have a front light. However as I passed him I immediately thought - no he has no front light. It was only when I pulled away from him and saw the whole of him in the rear mirror did I see that he was wearing a helmet front light.

The guy was quite tall and what was happening was that close to the car (to the side and back) his helmet light was in a blind spot on the car due to its height.

Therefore, I don't think you should rely on a single front helmet light, wear one by all means as a supplement, but have a handlebar height light as your main light. Additionally a helmet light turns with the rider head, if the rider is looking anywhere than dead ahead, there is a risk he won't be seen.

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If you do not have lights on your bike (rather than your person) then, according to the law, you do not have lights- the front light must additionally be no more than 1500mm from the ground, and postioned centrally and on the offside (right)- I've often seen people with one fixed to their nearside (left) fork. The rear light must also be fixed to the bike and be between 350 and 1500mm.

Away from the legal, I'm not a fan of headlamps on cyclists- they're often angled very badly, with powerful blinding oncoming traffic, especially on narrow cycle paths.

posted by Al__S [631 posts]
11th December 2012 - 17:42

13 Likes

Yup, it's always worth remebering - as per the RAF pilot article that did the rounds recently - that people assess the scene around them as snapshots.

That means you really need lights that are always visible from all directions: flashing ones, or ones that can end up pointing elsewhere as with helmet lights, aren't enough on their own - even before you consider the legal obligation to have a light on the bike and not just on your head.

Also lights mounted on forks, chainstays or right under the saddle can easily be obscured from a number of angles.

Helmet lights also tend to dazzle drivers. And to me they suggest that the rider doesn't look behind them as they should. After all, then they'd be riding along with no light visible from the front - which would be stupid, right?

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [432 posts]
11th December 2012 - 17:51

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I like helmet lights off road but there is a geometry issue I find worries me. Basically a tall rider with a helmet light looks like he is further away if you don't believe me look closely the next time you meet someone who is using a helmet light. Right lights for right situations

posted by hesket14 [3 posts]
11th December 2012 - 18:09

18 Likes

Helmet lights should only be used in conjunction with a bar mounted light.

posted by pjay [228 posts]
11th December 2012 - 20:32

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Thanks guys for the comments

I have only used a headlight off road (as supplement to handlebar light) and didn't realise that on road a headlight only is illegal.

My experience shows that this is a rule/law that is entirely correct.

As I said, this guy had everything else right, but just the lack of a proper height fixed front light could have had serious consequences - for both of us

posted by davidw07 [7 posts]
11th December 2012 - 23:41

13 Likes