Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

‘Be Seen, Be Safe’ at Pioneer Square tonight

Posted by on November 4th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Jim Parsons from Beaverton won the “Best Lit” winner at last year’s “Be Safe Be Seen” event.
(Photos © J. Maus)

TriMet is all set for their second annual Be Seen, Be Safe event tonight at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The event will feature a mix of reflective and hi-vis fashion shows, a contest to see who has the most well-lit bike, and a guided ride through the city to show it all off.

With the days becoming much shorter and darkness ruling many morning and evening commutes, TriMet is following suit with ODOT, who announced their visibility campaign last month.

To give you an idea of what to expect, here are some photos from last year…

Metro’s Active Transportation program manager Lake McTighe.

Make sure your kiddies are visible!

Being seen with a little sass.

See you out there!

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • michael bogoger November 4, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I thought blue was legal only on police vehicles. How does it work that an illegally lit vehicle wins an award?
    I’m no legal eagle, but if I tried that, I’d get a ticket, for sure. Maybe it just looks blue in the photo.

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    • Paul Johnson November 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      Blue and green both, actually. Green indicates it’s the lead unit on a multiple-unit response (here at least; in Texas, it’s a private security vehicle). Other colors you might see are blue (police), red (you must pull over and stop), white (county/state police), and amber (generic hazard in vicinity of vehicle, this one can be used by the public).

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      • Paul Johnson November 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm

        AFAICT, only State Police have all the possible colors on their lightbars.

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    • Spiffy November 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      it’s also illegal to have a bell on a vehicle…

      I used to have a BRIGHT blue cold cathode tube in my rear wheel and never got pulled over by the cops that were around me… usually I got compliments from professional drivers because I was easy to see…

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    • Jerko November 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Really. It is a well lit bicycle. I doubt any one is going to mistake him for a police car.

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      • El Biciclero November 8, 2011 at 5:01 pm

        I’ve “pulled over” drivers twice because I had a flashing front (white) light and was wearing a yellow jersey. Probably also because I was asserting the travel lane. No kidding–drivers on two separate occasions have pulled over to the curb and stopped, only to pull out again and continue after I passed by. One of those drivers subsequently asked me what that flashing light was for, I told him “for visibility”, to which he replied that he thought I was going to give him a ticket and by the way, people are going to think you’re a cop if you wear yellow and have a flashing light…

        So no, nobody is going to mistake a well-lit bike for a police car, but “The Police” in general…maybe.

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    • Carl November 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      I’m pretty certain that blue lights are permissible under Klingon law, Mr. Bogoger.

      I would tread carefully when suggesting that K’Tesh may be wrong. He has quite the temper: http://vimeo.com/20391173

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  • Spiffy November 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I want to try and make it, but doubt I can get there earlier than 5:30… also, about 20% of my xmas lights on my bike aren’t working due to a broken wire… ):

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  • Richard November 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I hope my wife doesn’t hear about this event. I have a headlight, tail light, lights on my helmet (forward white and rear-facing red) and reflectors, but she would have me lit up like one of the Christmas ships if she could have her way . . .

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  • BURR November 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I can’t wait for another winter of being blinded by cyclists competing in a unnecessary headlight wattage war using poorly aimed and focused beams and seizure inducing blinking tailights.

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    • wsbob November 5, 2011 at 1:47 am

      There’s definitely still room for engineering improvements to bike headlight technology. They get better, but I notice over at bikeforums electronics/gadget forums, the crew there have ongoing discussion about lights as ‘throwers’ and ‘floods’ rather than single lights that do the job well by themselves.

      Standards for beam patterns seem to be lacking. Headlight reflectors producing stray light seems to be a common problem. Light beam angle in relation to the road can vary wildly, given that people probably are more or less just guessing where the beam should hit the road ahead of them without really being conscious of the stray light issue.

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    • was carless November 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      I’ve resorted to multi-watt lasers this year. Everyone’s going to be blind!

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      • El Biciclero November 8, 2011 at 10:23 am

        Multi-watt lasers. Ha! I have Light Saber bar-ends! Take THAT you close-passing goobers!

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  • daisy November 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Do any of these folks have links on where to get all this kind of stuff? It seems like a lot of the best bike safety stuck is hacked together.

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    • K'Tesh November 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      For my tier 1 headlights I use NiteRider MiNewts. I have a MiNewt X2 and a MiNewt 600 Cordless on the Handlebar and a MiNewt 200 on the helmet. My Tier 2 headlights lights is/are Planet Bike Beamers. I use Planet Bike Superflash and PDW DangerZone.

      As for my frame and wheel lights, I made them myself, and I’m looking to try to sell them.

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    • wsbob November 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm


      Light enthusiasts do pull together the parts for good, very bright headlights…flashlight bodies, LED emitters, reflectors, chargers and batteries from e-stores for cheap..maybe $25-$50 total.

      Instead of the DIY flashlight component route, the simple, convenient way most people will enjoy upgrading their bike lights, is to go into a bike shop that has lights specifically made for using on bikes.

      I decide the best for me, was to walk in to a bike shop and get a light like I described in the earlier comment. 150 lumens, $80 last year. This year the shop actually has a little more powerful light…200 lumens, same brand, same basic model…cygolite for $70 on sale. Performance has it, REI probably has it or something close. Bike Gallery and other bike shops probably are doing something similar.


      Hard to describe in simple terms how much illumination can be expected from this lumen level. Much better to my mind than department store bike lights. It allows the road to be seen, not super well, but well enough for me to ride dark streets unlit by streetlights at about 15mph. Definitely far brighter lights available for more money.

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  • K'Tesh November 4, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    My photos from tonight’s event are up… not many though… My camera’s memory filled up during the daylight hours.


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  • Todd Edelman November 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Hi. I am from California but live in Berlin. Far from being the mythical “Europe” that people in your parts tend to generalize about in regards to cycling, conditions (infrastructure, parking, etc.) are terrible here relative to the well-known cities in DK and NL where up to 60% of trips are by bike, and behaviour and “safety reactionism” is probably as bad as anywhere.

    “Safety reactionism” seems to be typified by this event held on Friday. On Facebook I asked the co-owner of the one of the companies which co-sponsored the event about why it could not clearly be just about telling people what the cycling illumination law is and making sure they fulfil it. If the law is inadequate (e.g. not up to Dutch or even more tough German standards) than I see it would be reasonable to tell people about that, ask if they support it and hand out swag which matches it.

    But now I see that the absolute winner is the person who is the most lit-up. Not the smartest, most economical, simplest… of course their end of the Halloween week costume is over the top, but I don’t think that’s absolutely clear to everyone, in particular the children.

    People new to cycling (and a lot of them are from the USA) in Berlin react the same way. Not so much lights but reflective vests (as a lot of bikes have built-in lights). But very people use no lights, have no skills, little courtesy and don’t care. It’s the other side of the coin, but both sides of the coin are about narcissism.

    I suggest that this event is about narcissism — that every overlit cyclist makes another one nearby less visible and that every one makes motor vehicle users even less pre-disposed to care for other legally-lit cyclists.

    Consider the partners: TriMet teaches its drivers cycle-awareness, but do they have lower speed limits at night-time? Well, that might be unacceptable, but when we have AAA! Are they holding an event which gives prizes for their members who drive slower? Finally, we also have the Williamette Pedestrian Coalition, a fine group. Why are they involved? Pedestrians do not and should never need to wear any hi-viz. For children? OK, to what age? 4? 8? 45? (My age and probably close to the of the gentleman who won the competition).

    There is no proof that all this hi-viz works, or does anything besides provide subjective safety. Subjective safety without real safety is delusion. What it does do is let motor vehicle operators and the politicians they support off the hook.

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  • Hugh Johnson November 6, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Now we’re even complaining about others having bright headlights on their bikes? Please. Ever see how many cars are running around with aftermarket HID headlight kits? Now *those* are blinding and poorly aimed. I’d say a few high watt bike headlights are the least of your problems. Besides many of us don’t have the comforts of good street lighting in outer parts of the city and need all the light we can get.

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    • Todd Edelman November 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

      Cýclists will never win the “Battle of Lux” and everyone who is less lit up suffers. Again, rather than blaming the victim here, how about an event focused on making those aftermarket kits illegal?

      That said, lights with adjustable settings are a good idea.

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    • BURR November 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

      then get a light with a focused beam that actually lights the road in front of you and not a flood light that blinds oncoming cyclists and does very little to light your way.

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      • Hugh Johnson November 6, 2011 at 9:03 am

        I’ve got a 600 lumen NiteRider. If that’s too bright for YOU…too bad.

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        • Todd Edelman November 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

          Hugh, I assume that you are a “bicycle driver”, yes?

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          • Hugh Johnson November 6, 2011 at 5:16 pm

            yes Todd, I am one of those.

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    • wsbob November 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

      The problem isn’t necessarily that lights are too bright, but that inadequate light design and people’s positioning of their lights beam with relation to the road, is allowing too much of the light to drift into people’s eyes.

      If you’re allowing your 600 lumen NiteRider to be positioned so that too much of its light is going into people’s eyes, you’re being irresponsible with regards to other people trying to use the road safely.

      Manufacturers of bike lights seem to be conscious of the need people doing urban biking have, for bike light beams to be confined to a very specific area of the road. Apparently though, light designs haven’t quite got their yet.

      Here’s a link to a discussion over at bikeforums about a Phillips brand light those people seem kind of excited about:


      a link to a mountain biker magazine review of the light:


      A mtbr mag page with comparative light beam shots:


      Notice the Phillips Saferide’s beam at the lower left hand corner. Looks very good.

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    • wsbob November 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      I posted a comment earlier with links to a new light by Phillips. That comment is ‘awaiting moderation’. I’ll try posting this comment with just one link to a mtbr mag page showing comparative light beam shots, including one of the new Phillips models:


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  • BURR November 6, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Hugh Johnson
    I’ve got a 600 lumen NiteRider. If that’s too bright for YOU…too bad.

    Nice attitude.

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    • Hugh Johnson November 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      seems to fit right in with the all the other self righteous attitudes here. I can’t help it you have a problem with people having brighter lights than yours. It’s a cycling specific light…it’s not like it’s off a truck or something. Do you complain about people having more expensive bikes too?

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      • wsbob November 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm

        You could do a little self educational experiment by go standing in front of your big bright light, letting it shine into your eyes to get a sense of the problem you may be creating for other people if you’ve not taken care to aim your light’s beam properly, and insuring its stray light isn’t getting into people’s eyes.

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        • Hugh Johnson November 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm

          omg it points at the ground several feet in front of me. Happy? wow what a nanny site.

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          • wsbob November 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm

            Try to set aside the juvenile smack and think for a moment about the serious situations and different types of lights people here are discussing. Not all lights are the same. There’s lights that have a generally spotlight character, and lights that have a generally flood light character.

            The current state of development of many bike light designs allow a lot of stray light from the beam to escape from the point on the road where the light is directed, into the eyes of oncoming people on the road, MUP’s and trails.

            The point on the road where people happen to direct their bike lights depends on a number of things, such as how fast they’re going, how bright their lights are, and so on. It’s all up to the individual light owner, unlike the situation with motor vehicles, whose headlights are generally standardized for beam pattern and adjusted to be directed on a point of the road that meets federal specs.

            As I said earlier, it’s not necessarily the brightness of the lights that are the problem, but stray light from lights that’s escaping and getting into people’s eyes. Working to overcome this problem is part of the idea behind the new Phillips light.

            People biking out in the sticks or elsewhere with nobody else on the trail don’t have to concern themselves with this kind of thing, but it wreaks havoc in situations where a lot of people tend to be, like the Springwater Corridor trail when people bring bright, poorly aimed flood type lights into such situations.

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  • Todd Edelman November 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    See how they do this in San Francisco? http://www.sfbike.org/?lights Just the facts, no b.s.

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    • Hugh Johnson November 6, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      Todd…thanks for the link. It doesn’t seem to sink in here with the righteous PDX crowd that lights that “make you be seen” don’t always necessarily make effective lights for lighting the road in front of you. Like I said, some of us live in parts of town here where street lighting is next to nothing if we’re lucky. We don’t all have the luxury of living in the inner city where all is brightly lit. But now even having a bright light to see where you are going is “offensive” to some. Welcome to Portland…land of whiners.

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      • Todd Edelman November 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm

        Thanks. This whole thing is about context, is it not? Inappropriate lighting, yes? But also illumination in general, right?

        For inner-city purposes, the German and Dutch (more relaxed) standards are adequate. This is not a “nanny state” thing, but just ensuring responsibility. This is the place where you need to be seen, and trying to get more seen is selfish. Riding “ninja” – or in German there is this fantastic word “Geisterfahrer” – is also selfish, as headlights are important for pedestrians and tailights and reflectors help motor vehicle operators see you from further away so they don’t have to make a possibly dangerous last-second course correction.

        So the problem starts with the inadequate Oregon laws which say nothing about pedal or wheel reflection. Are “city bikes” sold with pedal or wheel reflectors/reflectorized sidewalls? I would guess that there is no law for this because certain cyclists have worked against it. I also know that front reflectors are not required, but these serve an important function as back-up if your light is not working, out of juice or off.

        Rural or dark situations do not have different requirements than in the inner-city (“being seen” visibility 500 front/600 rear). So one question is if “seeing” headlights should be required here — in any case vests and other reflective stuff should not be. Or should people get exemptions for “racing bikes”?

        What do people with newer city bikes with hub-generators do if they need more light? Just add a second battery powered light? Seems kind of inconvenient, as the advantage of built-in lights is to not have to worry about them.

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        • wsbob November 6, 2011 at 10:36 pm

          “…So the problem starts with the inadequate Oregon laws which say nothing about pedal or wheel reflection. Are “city bikes” sold with pedal or wheel reflectors/reflectorized sidewalls? I would guess that there is no law for this because certain cyclists have worked against it. …” Todd Edelman

          That would most likely not be correct. At least, I don’t believe there have been efforts on the part of people that bike in the U.S. or Oregon to work against laws that would specify improved specifications and standards for bike reflector illumination or lights.

          The reason for this likely is that so far in Oregon, there’s not been near the perceived need for quality bike lighting regulations there’s been in some European countries. As a result, proposals for such regulations haven’t even been written or proposed. If good law proposals for better bike lighting were proposed here in Oregon, I think people that bike might be more inclined to support them than not.

          Oregon doesn’t have any requirements for reflectors on pedals or wheels. Livestrong.com has a page that says California has a 200′ visibilty regulation requirement for pedals, but not Oregon.

          Headlights that allow people to see the road ahead of their bikes aren’t required in Oregon. The requirement for bike headlights in Oregon is to enable approaching traffic to see bikes on the road. Oregon law doesn’t even require a light on the rear of a bike; a red reflector is legal.

          It’s really not that big a deal anymore to mount onto a racing bike, a headlight that allows a person to see the road. Such lights have become very light and bright for their size. A little extra money over the cost of the cheapest lights, and lack of awareness are likely the biggest reason more people don’t have decent front lights on their bikes.

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          • Todd Edelman November 7, 2011 at 3:34 am

            Thanks. It is rather surprising that there is no requirement for a rear tail light!

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          • wsbob November 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm

            “Thanks. It is rather surprising that there is no requirement for a rear tail light!” Todd Edelman

            I probably should have been a little more clear on the rear reflector requirement. This state has an Oregon’s Cyclist’s Manual. I don’t have it right before me, but I’ve read that in this manual, in addition to explaining about Oregon’s requirement for a rear reflector, it goes on to make the recommendation that people use a tail light even though it’s not legally required.

            Around here, using tail lights seems to be very common and popular. Lots of them aren’t very good, but people are using them rather than just relying on the reflector or going entirely without. People know about the super bright Dinotte tail light. Drivers notice it on bikes and love it. Dinotte is expensive. Cygolite has a new 2 watt USB tail light that’s a lot less.

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  • Hugh Johnson November 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Todd, thanks your post. I can see you are being quite thoughtful. I like to see road debris, pot holes, and other road hazards so I don’t break my own neck. Reflectors and weak wattage lights won’t help with that. Being seen is of course important. But in Portland where everything is deemed offensive, even trying to light the road in front of you is now unacceptable. It’s amazing that even within our own community we try to tear each other down. Anti-bike people need no help. We eat each other up just fine.

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    • Todd Edelman November 6, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      Hugh, as I am sure you are aware separated bike paths have a lot less “surface challenges”, so even if there is not great lighting – from street or bike – it is less of a problem). Lots of people with hub- or worse-generated lights ride separated paths in many parts of Europe and are not having big problems.

      Motor vehicle tyres very rarely puncture these days due to both compounds and belts (as far as I know, one does not see anti-puncture capabilities featured in advertising any longer). But bike tyres do advertise this, and newer tyres do a good job. But only the heavier ones.

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      • Paul Johnson November 6, 2011 at 9:34 pm

        Big problem with a lot of the paths is that inadequate pavement markings means it’s often difficult or impossible to see the pavement edge or find the centerline you’re shooting to stay right of, even with a good lightset, on a rainy night.

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      • El Biciclero November 8, 2011 at 11:06 am

        Maybe paths in Europe have fewer “surface challenges”, but in my area, off-street paths designed for “multi-use” (peds and cyclists) are often tree-root-heaved, debris-covered, glass-scattered, broken-up, unlit, unstriped, neglected “paths” that don’t even have curb cuts where they cross streets. I’ll take the occasional pothole or storm grate over that nonsense any day. Needless to say, lighting-to-see requirements are often higher on bike paths than on streets.

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    • wsbob November 6, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      “…But in Portland where everything is deemed offensive, even trying to light the road in front of you is now unacceptable. …” Hugh Johnson

      Simply not true. People understand the need to light the road ahead, but rightfully feel no obligation to endure someone’s crudely focused flood headlight shining in their eyes.

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      • Tacoma November 8, 2011 at 11:35 am

        “…but rightfully feel no obligation to endure someone’s crudely focused flood headlight shining in their eyes.”
        Certainly a consideration. I’ve been on both sides of that – having a light that was too bright and being blinded by a light that was “crudely-focused”. I have mitigated that somewhat by placing the light lower on my bike and slowing a bit so that I can use lower wattage. How do others work that out?

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        • wsbob November 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

          Just recently, someone commented to a thread over at bike forums that they experimented with reducing above ground stray light from their bike light by using a form of light control photographers and cinematographers use…something called a ‘snoot’.

          For a bike light, it could be something as simple as a piece of flat plastic or cardboard attached to the top of the light housing, extending over the front of the lens for a few inches or so. I’ve no idea how effective this would be in a biking situation for an oncoming rider.

          I’d really be interested to see how the Phillips light performs in a real life situation relative to other typical bike lights.

          From the MTBkr mag article I provided in another comment, referring to the new Phillips designed light:

          “…If there is a canopy, low hanging obstacles on the trail, those objects will not be visible with this light and may strike the rider on the head if not seen. …” http://reviews.mtbr.com/philips-saferide-led-bike-light-2012-mtbr-lights-shootout

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      • Hugh Johnson November 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm

        That’s too bad, but I don’t know who is using crudely focused floodlights. I know I’m sure not. I have a light that’s bright, well focused, and even charges from a USB port. It’s mounted to light the ROAD in front of me. Maybe if my tax dollars got me better infrastructure and lighting where I live…but hey this ain’t “Europe” and it isn’t even inner NE/SE Portland.

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  • Editz November 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Todd Edelman
    For inner-city purposes, the German and Dutch (more relaxed) standards are adequate.

    Look for German “StVZO approved” bike lighting online. Those will most likely use asymmetrical lenses that keep light down on the road and out of people’s eyes.

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  • Opus the Poet November 7, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I have a ton of retro-reflective surface on the back of my bike, and a CatEye EL530 headlight combined with a generic Chinese 9 LED flashlight for front lighting with a generic Chinese 5 LED tail light for lumens. I used to have a 18 LED light that was visible from 1 mile away (I used an auxiliary brake light from a motor vehicle) but that bike and the light was stolen and I can’t find the light any more to make a replacement for my new bike.

    I’m still working on a 150+LED headlight with a sharp horizontal cutoff beam because the CatEye beam has way too much splash outside the main beam.

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  • Editz November 8, 2011 at 8:11 am

    For the money is no object crowd:


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  • Editz November 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm