Lights On All The Time

by millskid   March 12, 2013  

Basically, I was driving to work (middle of the day, sunny)and there was a cyclist with his lights on, blinking on and off. I saw him a good 800 metres before I overtook him, and this was down to the lights he was using. I am considering adopting this approach as well. Does anyone else do this, have the lights on all the time? Safety is my main concern when out on the bike.

thanks

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'Apparently the fitting of strobe lights on cars is illegal, but on pedal cycles it's perfectly acceptable!'

Stupid, isn't it?

posted by andyp [1013 posts]
15th March 2013 - 14:47

10 Likes

ubercurmudgeon wrote:
It is amusing that there is currently one thread full of people saying they ride with lights on in broad daylight, presumably because they think motorists are too distracted to notice and take care not to injure their fellow human beings unless lit up like a Xmas tree, and another full of people saying they ride with headphones on. I couldn't be bothered to compare the names of those posting comments, to find out if anyone belongs to both groups, but if there are I hope they haven't procreated yet.

Well that would be me, I use the lights in the day because I read this article and it costs me nothing if I charge them at work. I find headphones perfectly safe after many years of experience as I can still hear motor vehicles and tend to pay more attention. I also wear a helmet. All of these choices are made on my own judgement on the pros and cons. I feel it a little harsh that you would wish away my children based on your own judgemental claptrap, go back to reading the Daily Mail.

posted by drfabulous0 [403 posts]
16th March 2013 - 22:02

10 Likes

andyp wrote:
'do it. if you doubt it ask a motorcyclist why their lights are always on.
'

Indeed. Then ask them why their lights aren't on flash mode all the time.

I don't know any to ask, so could you explain please? I run my rear lights on flash day and night, is this not recommended?

posted by Arthur Scrimshaw [47 posts]
17th March 2013 - 9:41

10 Likes

[[[[ Well, I've never been a daytime flasher...but while on the velo, if I see a dozy on an ipod or walkie-talkie up ahead, I wobble a bit from left to right----nice to see its startled face, its widening eyes, its sudden realisation that not all modes of transport approach noisily.
And the weavey-wobble appears to work on the driver emerging from that side road too....she thinks I'm gonna fall off, and she wants to see it, so she's not going anywhere! Mind you, I don't overdo it. Wouldn't want to look as incompetant as half the drivers on the streets of London these daze (sic).
No, I use flashing lights when it's dark, or even gloomy, and the rear light's attached to the outside of me right ankle with a Q/R strap, so it flashes....but also zooms up and down (seen from behind) and spins round and round (seen from the side). And for those up ahead who pretend not to have noticed me, there's a special treat sitting on me Cinelli 66's. It's the 140-decibel HORNIT. Toodle-oo.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [304 posts]
17th March 2013 - 19:15

6 Likes

I drive neither a Volvo nor a motor bike, yet I leave my lights on all year round now, just because on a sunnyday (if we get them) there is some times a contrast in the shadows near a hedge or under trees.

Comrade's picture

posted by Comrade [161 posts]
20th March 2013 - 12:39

18 Likes

OldnSlo wrote:
do it. if you doubt it ask a motorcyclist why their lights are always on.

That would be because for the past twenty years the headlights on many motorcycles come on when the engine is running; no choice in the matter. Some damned American requirement that the makers just dumped on us, too.

posted by Cauld Lubter [122 posts]
20th March 2013 - 14:48

13 Likes

'I don't know any to ask, so could you explain please? I run my rear lights on flash day and night, is this not recommended?'

Why do all other vehicles have their lights on *constant* instead of comedy disco mode? Because battery life is less of an issue, so they can focus on *visibility* instead. Personally I would have thought that this was a priority for bike lights too...

posted by andyp [1013 posts]
20th March 2013 - 22:07

9 Likes

andyp wrote:
'I don't know any to ask, so could you explain please? I run my rear lights on flash day and night, is this not recommended?'

Why do all other vehicles have their lights on *constant* instead of comedy disco mode? Because battery life is less of an issue, so they can focus on *visibility* instead. Personally I would have thought that this was a priority for bike lights too...

Well I don't have mine on flash to save batteries, my (flawed maybe) perception was that flashing lights attract more attention than steady lights and this is why Police/Ambulance/Fire service vehicles have flashing lights?

posted by Arthur Scrimshaw [47 posts]
21st March 2013 - 0:15

11 Likes

Both of my bikes are equipped with dynohubs, each powering a powerful LED headlight. As well as these, I also have similarly/more powerful rechargeable battery LED lights, including the new ferociously bright Cateye Volt 1200. The rear of each bike is protected by two ultra bright LED rear lamps. I ride with ALL lights on, the battery lights in Flash mode in daylight or darkness. I feel somehow "safer" with with lights on and particularly with the Volt 1200 lamp in pulsing Hyper Constant mode, which really is extremely visible, even in bright sunlight. I do this out of personal choice, but I feel to make bicycles more visible to motorists is very important. This is why in the past 25 or so years, it has become the "norm" for our motorcycling friends to have their lights on constantly, and particularly in a crowded urban road environment, it is so vital to be seen and acknowledged as being seen by motorists. With lighting technology improving by leaps and bounds every year and improvements in light output and battery life and relative cost, I think a safety campaign may be in order to encourage cyclists to display an ultra bright, in daylight visible front and rear light.

Steve Garratt

posted by Steve Garratt [4 posts]
17th December 2013 - 19:35

10 Likes

When a vehicle has lights on it makes any in front or behind without harder to see.

Every vehicle that runs with sidelights/LED/DRLs in the daytime is furthering the idea that you have to have lights on to be seen, so all the sheeple do the same. Baaaa! This means drivers to look only for lights, not other vehicles or people.

Lights are NOT needed in daylight, whether on bikes, motorbikes or cars. Sadly, that doesn't stop stupid people using them.

IIRC motorcycles started being sold with always-on headlights from around 2004. This became a legal requirement in other markets and the manufacturers didn't want to stock and fit different switchgear for the various markets.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2029 posts]
18th December 2013 - 12:16

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Simon E wrote:
When a vehicle has lights on it makes any in front or behind without harder to see.

Every vehicle that runs with sidelights/LED/DRLs in the daytime is furthering the idea that you have to have lights on to be seen, so all the sheeple do the same. Baaaa! This means drivers to look only for lights, not other vehicles or people.

Lights are NOT needed in daylight, whether on bikes, motorbikes or cars. Sadly, that doesn't stop stupid people using them.

IIRC motorcycles started being sold with always-on headlights from around 2004. This became a legal requirement in other markets and the manufacturers didn't want to stock and fit different switchgear for the various markets.


As an experienced motorcyclist I disagree, having lights on means you get noticed but the downfall and this was proven, lights disrupt the perception of approach speed by other motorist as it breaks the object shape up and the glare effects our perception. In winter I will have my rear light on and a less brighter light underneath flashing. The reason for one solid light is because in the split second your light is in the off state, someone can miss you, in fact I have done it as a car driver myself at night time and I would say I have pretty good observation.

posted by Shep73 [137 posts]
18th December 2013 - 15:44

9 Likes

That said I think it's a bad idea for cars, at least bikes stood out from other traffic and I would say the new LED daytime running lights on cars are too bright, I have these lights on mine, a pointless idea.

posted by Shep73 [137 posts]
18th December 2013 - 15:47

8 Likes

OldnSlo wrote:
do it. if you doubt it ask a motorcyclist why their lights are always on.

...because on my BMW motorbike I can't turn them off!

Some EU law or something.

posted by MrGear [85 posts]
18th December 2013 - 16:49

6 Likes

I don't mind leaving the Dynohub to power nice B+M lights that are engineered for a lot of use, during the day if its a bit gloomy, but aside from that its not needed or necessary. But I normally use quiet country roads rather than busy city streets so YMMV.

posted by Trull [63 posts]
19th December 2013 - 13:32

6 Likes

I use lights all the time as well. Flashing front and rear. I have always done it on my car as well and now new cars have to have running lights as standard.

Likewise I can see a flashing light a long way off and that alerts me that a cyclist is ahead even if they go round a bend or out of sight between the time I see the light and catching up with them I have already clocked that they are there.

Nice bright rechargeable lights make this a relatively cheap and effective way to improve road safety.

I also happen to be an advanced driver and the mantra of advanced driving is TTR = Time To React. Seeing a cyclist/being seen by a motorist that bit earlier gives them time to react to adjust and to think about passing you safely.

I happen not to wear a helmet (they don't make you any safer). I am a big fan of visibility as a safety measure . That includes road position, lights hi viz etc.

I would like to reach the situation in the UK where cycling was done in ordinary clothes as per The Netherlands and Denmark but so long as we have to mix with the traffic on faster and country roads without much provision then your best safety measure is being seen as soon as possible.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [703 posts]
19th December 2013 - 16:43

9 Likes

Shep73 wrote:
That said I think it's a bad idea for cars, at least bikes stood out from other traffic and I would say the new LED daytime running lights on cars are too bright, I have these lights on mine, a pointless idea.

Ok well the brightness is one thing but LEDs are installed is because they don't draw much power and the bulbs don't blow. Daytime running lights are very effective at making sure people realise the car is active. There are a large number of low speed accidents that occur where an active car is presumed to be parked. I was whacked probably 20 years ago now. I was waiting for an oncoming vehicle to pass through a narrow gap where other cars were parked, so I was to the left side of the road. A car driver approaching me from behind saw the oncoming car and slowed down but as soon as the oncoming car cleared me the car behind went through the gap at the same time as me. He had basically seen me as being one of the parked cars.

It was all good natured and I saw how that could happen/ what it looked like to him as he approached.

That's when I started using lights in the day. I also look behind when I am stationary and dab my brakes to make sure approaching cars get a brake light.

The other thing is that you can't forget to switch your lights on when it does get dark. At least you can be seen.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [703 posts]
19th December 2013 - 16:57

8 Likes

At least I am not alone with my day time usage of LED flashing lights. I thoroughly can recommend the new Cateye Volt 1200 USB rechargeable light. Not only has it got car headlight strength illumination for those unlit bridle paths but also a 1/3rd power pulse function which is very visible from a much, much wider angle of view than it's predecessors. Regarding helmets, well mine saved my head back in February 2012 when I took a bad tumble on a mini roundabout. I broke my hip, but the helmet was badly cracked instead of my head.

Steve Garratt

posted by Steve Garratt [4 posts]
19th December 2013 - 19:48

5 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
Shep73 wrote:
That said I think it's a bad idea for cars, at least bikes stood out from other traffic and I would say the new LED daytime running lights on cars are too bright, I have these lights on mine, a pointless idea.

Ok well the brightness is one thing but LEDs are installed is because they don't draw much power and the bulbs don't blow. Daytime running lights are very effective at making sure people realise the car is active. There are a large number of low speed accidents that occur where an active car is presumed to be parked. I was whacked probably 20 years ago now. I was waiting for an oncoming vehicle to pass through a narrow gap where other cars were parked, so I was to the left side of the road. A car driver approaching me from behind saw the oncoming car and slowed down but as soon as the oncoming car cleared me the car behind went through the gap at the same time as me. He had basically seen me as being one of the parked cars.

It was all good natured and I saw how that could happen/ what it looked like to him as he approached.

That's when I started using lights in the day. I also look behind when I am stationary and dab my brakes to make sure approaching cars get a brake light.

The other thing is that you can't forget to switch your lights on when it does get dark. At least you can be seen.

What amazes me is that they are only enforced on the front of cars, surely daytime running lights should be on the back as well. I know why LED's are used, (Engineer for Honda Manufacturing:-) ) my main gripe with daytime lights is that bike lights were hard wired with no switch so cars/vans could see them coming, now bikes will just blend in.

posted by Shep73 [137 posts]
20th December 2013 - 13:55

7 Likes

At this time of year when the sun is low I have lights on F&R all the time (Devon lanes lots of in and out of shadows) I don't bother in summer, because I'm on the summer bike and tend to only ride in the broad daylight.

William Black's picture

posted by William Black [196 posts]
20th December 2013 - 14:12

6 Likes

Having been SMIDSY'd at noon on a sunny day in June... yeah, I ride with a front light all the time.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [928 posts]
20th December 2013 - 14:34

7 Likes

MrGear wrote:
OldnSlo wrote:
do it. if you doubt it ask a motorcyclist why their lights are always on.

...because on my BMW motorbike I can't turn them off!

Some EU law or something.

Yep, my big Suzuki has the same. The old motorbike doesn't though, as it was made way before that law came out but I ride that with the lights on as well.

I haven't been using my LEDs in daylight on my bicycles to date but since I'm effectively doing the same thing on my motorbike, it makes sense and I'll probably start doing so. Recharging the batteries for the LED lights costs so little in any case.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
20th December 2013 - 15:02

7 Likes

As many have said - I have lights on most of the time, apart from the brightest of days (I.e summer) In winter I can't really see why not and since a lot of my clothing is quite dark I understand that I'm not particularly visible!

I mean it can't hurt having them on surely?

posted by Cycle_Jim [282 posts]
20th December 2013 - 15:38

8 Likes

The reason I started riding with the lights on all year round - day or night - is because I was on a tree shaded downhill road in the day light, doing about 35pmh . Oncoming traffic a couple of hundred metres away when he gets overtaken by a car...now on my side of road.... in a 40mph zone. He obviously never saw me (or did not appreciate my speed.)

It scared me a bit! As I say, since then, lights on! Simple.

Comrade's picture

posted by Comrade [161 posts]
20th December 2013 - 19:48

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ubercurmudgeon wrote:
It is amusing that there is currently one thread full of people saying they ride with lights on in broad daylight, presumably because they think motorists are too distracted to notice and take care not to injure their fellow human beings unless lit up like a Xmas tree, and another full of people saying they ride with headphones on. I couldn't be bothered to compare the names of those posting comments, to find out if anyone belongs to both groups, but if there are I hope they haven't procreated yet.

It's not exactly high comedy, hell, it's barely sitcom level.

I've never cycled with headphones on. But, if I did, I'd probably cycle exactly as I do now. In a straight line and in a consistent manner. I'd be extra cautious perhaps but, frankly, I don't think I could look behind me any more regularly than I do now.

So, the thing is, you're conflating poor cycling with headphone use. It's possibly arguable that poor cyclists and headphone users do intersect quite strongly on a venn diagram, who knows.

But, here's the thing. I use my hearing to ascertain whether something is behind me. I have to trust that thing to behave, if it doesn't then the only thing my hearing has let me do is prepare for impact.

posted by bendertherobot [371 posts]
21st December 2013 - 13:11

7 Likes

I`ve been intermittently using lights in the daytime, especially the rear certainly at this time of the year but not the whole year round.
The sun is low & the roads often wet which just produces such a glare that it is difficult to see.

I drive for a living too & it is incredibly difficult at times to see other road users, cyclists included because of these conditions. Having a decent light flashing away obviously helps to make cyclists more visible which can only be a good thing.

Its open to interpretation but I think the highway code states something about putting your lights on in adverse weather conditions. I`d class these sort of conditions as being adverse but I`m in a minority when I`m driving around in the daylight with my lights on.

The glare off a wet road can be blinding even with sunglasses on. For those road users who can`t wear sunglasses & don`t have a light sensitive lens in their specs, it must be incredibly difficult to see

posted by gigster69 [3 posts]
21st December 2013 - 14:04

7 Likes

Wow. I can't believe something so simple has created so much waffle. I won't pretend to have read all the above but having your lights on in the daytime can not be a bad thing thing in any way. At best it increases your visibility, at worst it achieves nothing. Almost every motorcyclist I know (including myself when I was motorised) keep their lights on regardless of the time of day, it's just a little extra safety feature. Also, with a full face helmet on, sat astride a big engine with the wind rushing past you, you can't hear much more than if you had headphones on. It's a no brainer surely. Lights on = better than lights off.

posted by simonofthepiemans [11 posts]
21st February 2014 - 14:08

7 Likes

Simon E wrote:

Lights are NOT needed in daylight, whether on bikes, motorbikes or cars. Sadly, that doesn't stop stupid people using them.

Flashing lights during daylight on a bicycle make perfect sense in many places (tree canopy, shadows etc...)
Sadly some stupid people don't understand it.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [188 posts]
24th February 2014 - 20:35

4 Likes

Yep, always have lights on. You might start a ride in nice weather, finish in the pouring rain or maybe just be later home than anticipated and it's getting dark. And where I ride there's a lot of intermittent tree cover, the road often goes from light to dark and it can be difficult spotting a rider in those conditions.

Even super bright lights now are so small and weigh so little that its a no brainer to have them on at all times.

posted by crazy-legs [549 posts]
24th February 2014 - 21:06

3 Likes

A yes, the Daytime Lights Deniers - quite a few in the UK. Last in the EU to accept lights-on-with-ignition for motorbikes, I think. 40 years after Oz? 30 years after most of the world? No rush. It's rarely dark here. Just half the year.

And even on a sunny day, that sun rises and sets. And some traffic will be driving directly toward the sun, being blinded, and it will be very, very difficult to see what's coming at you - or travelling 1.5 metres into the lane on a bicycle, 30 mph slower.

Then there are the places where you're riding in bright sun, but pass into shade. Where you disappear to following drivers, whose eyes take a few seconds to adjust.

All EU cars now must have daytime running lights (you've seen them, the fancy LEDs). It happened years ago in Canada and Scandinavia, but then they are sooo much more northern than Scotland (not).

My understanding is that DRLs were mandated by regulation as it was statistically proven to reduce accidents.

Here in the the UK about 10% of cars don't even have the intelligence to turn their lights on in the rain. Then there's the other idiots with the Full Fog effect. Oh well. Me, rear red LED all the time. Front on as conditions suggest.

Ride your own ride

posted by CanAmSteve [160 posts]
24th February 2014 - 21:23

3 Likes

Agree, I see no reason why cycling with headphones makes you worse off. I look around ahead of me absolutely fine, I don't make suddenly jerky movements and it makes me physically look behind me before moving out. If anything it makes me a safer cyclist than I would be without.

http://matmitchellcycling.wordpress.com
The usual new 4th Cat blog with some stuff about Pros too.

mtm_01's picture

posted by mtm_01 [90 posts]
25th February 2014 - 9:59

4 Likes