Sombra bike light ‘lampshade’ aims to reduce blinking effect, improve visibility

sombra

Sombra in action.

Here’s an interesting idea: A sheet of polypropolene that wraps around your rear light to make it more visible and less annoying at the same time.

How are rear bike lights annoying? Did you forget the huge debate and discussion we had back in July after we shared how someone spray-painted “F*** you and your epileptic bike lights.”

Now a London-based product designer hopes to solve that problem with his “Sombra” — a “lampshade” for your tail light. Sombra’s creator, Offer Canfi, was inspired to create the product after being passed by another rider during a nighttime ride in central London. “He had one of those blinking, bright-red taillights, and in the dark it played some nasty tricks on my eyes,” writes Canfi on the Indiegogo crowdfunding site he’s set up to fund the first run of Sombras.


Advertisement

“The light was so intense,” he continued, “that even as the cyclist pushed further away, I kept feeling disoriented. With cars on my right and the sidewalk to my left, I was forced to stop so I would avoid diving head first into the curb. Needless to say I was annoyed, but my annoyance quickly turned to irony when I realized I had the exact same type of taillight, and that I was probably annoying other cyclists too.”

When Canfi went home later that night and turned on his lampshade, the proverbial light bulb went off in his head and the Sombra was born. Now he’s hoping to raise $3,000 to buy enough sheets of polypropolene to make his first batch.

In addition to lowering your light’s annoying factor, the Sombra diffuses the light to make it visible from all directions. It’s made from recyclable material and it attaches to your seat post clamp. Canfi says it will retail for $10.

This seems like a nifty idea. The material and execution reminds me of the Portland Design Works Origami rear fender. What do you think? Check out the campaign site for more info.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

66 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Granpa
Granpa
7 years ago

DIY from milk jug material…

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
7 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

…how about a handful of clear packing tape crumpled up.

[The Sombre, milk jug, and crushed tape all help to address the side street conspicuity of poorly designed gun barrel style rear flashing LED lamps.]

invisiblebikes
invisiblebikes
7 years ago

That’s a horribly flawed product design! By defusing the intensity of a bicycle safety light your essentially reducing its valuable design to be intensely bright and grab the attention of drivers at a far enough distance that they can react or approach/over take the rider safely.

All this design does is void the effectiveness of a good safety light… that is no buano!

meh
meh
7 years ago
Reply to  invisiblebikes

Intensity isn’t the issue. I see many rear lights with higher intensity than car lights, but are less visible than the car light. Why? Because the smaller taillights don’t disperse the light enough to be visible unless you are directly in line with them. Larger lighted are is more important than laser beam intensity

invisiblebikes
invisiblebikes
7 years ago
Reply to  meh

Your using the wrong light if it is putting out a laser beam light pattern, most (if not all) lights on the market that are as bright or brighter than car tail lights use lenses that create a 180 degree flood of red light that can be seen from at least 100 yards away. and the better lights use a secondary center lense shape that intensifies the 10 foot wide (or so) center of the beam so it can be seen from farther away and keeps its intensity for a long distance. look at PDW Danger Zone or Planet Bike Super Flash… they also always have a slow flash and a steady mode to be used in areas that quick flash would annoy more than protect.

If your using a cheap single 5mm LED like Knog frog, blackburn or any Serfas junk then you’ve got a light with noticeable visibility from about 100 feet away and adding this defuser to it would reduce the brightness to about the same as a single twinkling Christmas light which is basically worthless.

Nathan Hinkle (The Bike Light Database)
Reply to  invisiblebikes

or any Serfas junk

I’m curious why you think Serfas lights are “junk”? In my experience they make some very good bike lights.

Paul Cone
Paul Cone
7 years ago

Yeah, what junk? I got a Serfas Thunderbolt rear light, and I get a lot of comments about how bright it is, but also about how visible it is from many angle. I have that and a trusty Planet Bike light set to blink. I just got a Serfas Thunderbolt front light as well, which I set to blink, and then an old Princeton Tec as a spot to light the ground. I’ve definitely noticed fewer cars not seeing me at cross streets.

invisiblebikes
invisiblebikes
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul Cone

So keeping to the context of my paragraph, if you read the entire paragraph that a “cheap 5mm LED light like Serfas junk”
Cheap lights are exactly that… Cheap! and they are the kings of saturating the market with Junk!

Nathan Hinkle (The Bike Light Database)
Reply to  invisiblebikes

Sorry but I’ve got to disagree with you there. When’s the last time you used a Serfas light? I’ve tested almost all of their recent product lines, and have been quite impressed with all of them. Nary a 5mm LED to be found. For example, their TL-60 and TL-80 taillights are rugged, rechargeable, and put out 60 and 80 lumens respectively. The TL-80 has a diffusing lens that spreads the light out to avoid the very problem this “Sombra” thing is supposed to fix.

I’d encourage you to read some of my Serfas reviews and see if maybe you’re missing out on some good lights based on some outdated experiences when perhaps their lights weren’t as good.

Adam H.
Adam H.
7 years ago

This is so dumb. Most lights have a steady, non-flashing mode. Just use that and don’t waste money on this plastic filter.

Patrick Barber
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam H.

My #LetsGoSteady meme never went viral but it is a better solution than this thing. I agree with Adam, just choose the steady setting (and! horror of horrors! be forced to recharge your batteries a little bit more often).

Art Fuldodger
Art Fuldodger
7 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Barber

Try a lot more often. It’s not the end of the world to have to recharge regularly, but it is bad when your light begins to fail mid-trip. Using the flash mode makes this a lot less likely, since you get a more gradual loss of intensity. Plus, a lot of people don’t use rechargeables, and on solid beam would burn through batteries at a rapid (and expensively wasteful) rate.

Mossby Pomegrante
Mossby Pomegrante
7 years ago

Meh. Keep it bright and blinky!

John Liu
John Liu
7 years ago

Not clear why I would pay $7 to reduce the effectiveness of my taillight, instead of simply switching said light to the less bright setting.

Jeff
Jeff
7 years ago

There is some merit to having lights with a larger surface area, but not sure this is the answer.

john
john
7 years ago

it’s the front light that is the problem…the people with a light that is brighter than a car…strobing in my face..blinding me… 🙁

Caesar
Caesar
7 years ago

It’s not the red rear blinkys that annoy; it’s the front white ones.

blinkey
blinkey
7 years ago

It’s the bright front lights that are annoying and hazardous

CaptainKarma
CaptainKarma
7 years ago

We need a dimmer switch on headlights, for sure.

Nathan Hinkle (The Bike Light Database)
Reply to  CaptainKarma

The vast majority of bike lights sold have various output levels. What we really need is greater adoption of dipped beams in bike headlights, like those mandated by German bike light laws. Unfortunately these types of lights are very rare in the US outside of the dynamo lights market.

Spiffy
Spiffy
7 years ago

yes, my german dynamo light has a nice cut-off at the top so I get to see the road without blinding people…

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago

Even a light mount (for handlebars) that had some kind of non-jiggly cam system to temporarily re-aim the beam would be great. For me to dim my light, I have to cycle through all the brighter/brightest/flashing settings to get back to the low setting. By that time, assuming I haven’t crashed for playing with my light, the need for dim has likely passed.

If I really don’t want to blind someone, e.g., while waiting at a stoplight or on a trail, I just use my hand to cover part or all of my front light.

Trikeguy
Trikeguy
7 years ago
Reply to  CaptainKarma

This is a major problem on a ‘bent – by design the light is in front of my feet (so it won’t reflect off my shoes back into my face) but it makes it hard to adjust quickly.

This summer I’m going to play around with soldering a remote switch in.

Heck, I’d kill for a remote switch to change the angle – low to avoid troubling approaching people, high for fast descents 🙂

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  Trikeguy

I have a similar, but less extreme problem on my cargo bike, where I have the light mounted underneath the front of my front cargo basket (so it isn’t obscured by cargo). I have to stop and put my feet down to reach it.

Nathan Hinkle (The Bike Light Database)

I’ve tested dozens of bike lights, some of which are insanely bright and others of which are barely visible. I agree that intensely focused beams can be a real problem, but I don’t think this product is the right solution. There are more and more products available now with lens diffusers built in, accomplishes the same thing as this Sombra product without necessitating a separate accessory.

Most lights also offer a steady-burn mode, which is much less distracting. With the advent of cheap rechargeable lights, and with the alternate option of using a dynamo setup, running a taillight in steady for extended periods of time is increasingly practical. Some lights also offer a pulse mode which gradually alternates between high and low output, which is attention-grabbing without being distracting like a strobing flash pattern.

I appreciate that Sombra is trying to address this problem, but I think the smart bike light manufacturers are already a step ahead of this by simply designing better lights so it isn’t a problem in the first place.

Drew
Drew
7 years ago

An interesting patch to the bike light problem.

Blinky owners can’t afford or don’t want to shell out the big $$ to install effective bike lights that should have been included with the bike in the first place (dynamo head and tail lights).

Most riders understand that the blinky is distracting and annoying. The flashing mode is chiefly used to save battery power.

We live in an age when bikes are still considered to be toys. If you regard your bike as actual transportation and not a toy, you need to have effective lighting installed on it. Unfortunately that means you have to tell the salesperson or mechanic to install what the bike should have come with in the first place; a hub dynamo and LED lights that can illuminate in the low-beam mode, like normal automotive lights. Very few bikes out there come properly equipped. This retrofit increases the cost of the bike in a big way. Imagine if you had to special order a light system to an automobile purchase….

I suppose the lack of proper lighting prevalent in almost all the bikes for sale in the average bike shop is related to the “racing” mindset, which equates an ounce lighter as an advantage. The first question out of the mouth of the average person examining my (weird) bike(s) is usually “how much does it weigh?”

davemess
davemess
7 years ago
Reply to  Drew

“Blinky owners can’t afford or don’t want to shell out the big $$ to install effective bike lights that should have been included with the bike in the first place (dynamo head and tail lights).”

Have “blinky” lights actually shown to be less effective than steady lights? There is still something to be said for the attention-grabbing aspect of a strobing light. Did I miss some big study on this? I know when I’m driving and come across a cyclist I’m just as likely (maybe more so) to see a flashing light as a steady one.

Drew
Drew
7 years ago
Reply to  davemess

Blinkys make it difficult for the motorist to know just where the bike is on the road. A steady red light allows the driver to understand where the bike is and drive accordingly.

It may be that blinkies get first noticed from a greater distance, but as the motorist approaches the light becomes disorienting.

davemess
davemess
7 years ago
Reply to  Drew

Again, has this actually been demonstrated scientifically?
I can’t say I find blinking lights on bikes disorienting when I’m driving and coming up on a cyclist.

colton
colton
7 years ago
Reply to  Drew

Well, how much does it weigh?

Matt Rogers
Matt Rogers
7 years ago

Interesting! I’ve often thought that a headlight or taillight that is bright enough to see the road is also too pin-point bright to be seen without dazzling. According to the internet, automotive headlights range from 1000 to 2000 lumens, approximately. But that’s spread out over a fairly large reflector or projector lens–at least a few square inches, if not dozens. It’s more light, but less intense to look at (even the HID projectors aren’t as much of a point source as a bike light!)

I wouldn’t mind having my 700 lumens emitted from a slightly larger reflector or projector–It’d probably be less annoying to onlooking road users, and with a little bit of optics work, one could focus that light into more appropriate beam spread.

Ofer Canfi
7 years ago

Thank you all for the comments, getting feedback on a product before producing it is a true gem! I know this is an unconventional product.

I have to stress out that the Sombra does not block the main beam of the light, so long range visibility is not hindered, only the fall-off beam is used for all-around visibility. I have gone through many models starting with a translucent mudguard to understand exactly how to design the beam.
I personally believe that a blinking light is associated with bicycles and most drivers truly do try to keep us safe, so avoiding blinding other cyclists on the lane was my main goal.

Cheers and happy rides,
Ofer

John Liu
John Liu
7 years ago

I am not sure, but from the picture shown, it also appears this device only works with the bullet-shaped coin-cell sort of blinky. Not with the larger blinkies that use AAA or AA cells, or the larger rechargeable blinkies.

Spiffy
Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  John Liu

also, none of my tail lights are mounted to my seat tube…

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago

The problem isn’t the intensity being too high but:
() it being focused in a single point source LED with a s#itty aiming reflector
() AND the completely off cycle of a blinky light disables the unconscious visual tracking reflex that exists between the eye motor control and the visual cortex.

Cheap and easy solutions :
() scuff you taillight lens with sandpaper. Ta-Da! Built in diffuser!
() eliminate all strobes other than SOS as they really serve no purpose any more.

Spiffy
Spiffy
7 years ago

“Cycling on roads is dangerous”

way to get people on a bike…

I cringe every time I hear/see this…

BIKELEPTIC
7 years ago

What I enjoyed about this was not only the light was diffused, giving it a larger target for someone behind to see “Oh there’s a red like behind” but that the setting that he was using was still annoying, but was almost a pulse and not a strobe. I wish that if people insisted on cheap equipment they would at least splurge for better safety.

As someone said above, people don’t spend money on their bikes. We live in a society where people will drop 10k+ on cars, but when it comes to bikes, where does the money go? These are vehicles that are meant to keep you safe and to transport you safely from point A to point B. Invest in them.

colton
colton
7 years ago
Reply to  BIKELEPTIC

“people don’t spend money on their bikes”

No, some people don’t spend money on the thief’s next bike. I never actually assume it’s my bike for long if it gets too expensive looking.

BIKELEPTIC
7 years ago
Reply to  colton

Cars get broken into as well. Not a valid argument. And it’s not taking any accountability for yourself. You’re just pushing blame onto the fact that you shouldn’t do anything proactive or take precautions in safety because you’ve already taken a defeatist stance.

That’s a really depressing way to live. There are always work arounds. Advocate for better bike infrastructure at your workplace. More enforcement for theft, etc. Don’t expect safety to be handed to you. You need to work for it. And barring still feeling safe; you can always invest in a folding bike and just bring your mode of transportation in with you everywhere.

But then, you already decided that it’s not worth trying.

colton
colton
7 years ago
Reply to  BIKELEPTIC

It’s a completely valid argument that you try to minimize by comparing it to the risks of something else. That a car can be broken into simply doesn’t reduce the risk of my bike being stolen or vandalized. I’m totally justified in worrying about my bike, which makes it much less enjoyable to use.

The number one reason that I ride my bike is because I enjoy it. It gets me out, it gets my heart rate up and I get away from cars for most of my miles. You have some interesting thoughts, but in the end, if riding a modest steed keeps my worries low and my enjoyment up I’ll stick to that.

oliver
oliver
7 years ago
Reply to  BIKELEPTIC

. We live in a society where people will drop a lot more than 10k+ on cars

Impreza -$20,747
Forester – $24,906
Outback – $26,905
Grand Cherokee $29,880
RAM 2500 $ 37,380
Audi A3 $46,875

I know what you mean though, I paid $5K for my car 10 years ago.

PdxMark
PdxMark
7 years ago

Super-bright blinky lights on busy bike routes are unnecessary for driver conspicuity and a nuisance for other cyclists on the road. Just last night I was blinded by a Planet Bike Super Flash on a bike in front of me during my ride home. The notion that brighter is always better ignores the fact that excessive brightness poses hazards to other road users without a corresponding increase in safety for the over-lit user. If this were not true, people would always drive their cars with their high beams on. Bright enough is all that’s needed. And it’s time for steady taillights on bikes…

J_R
J_R
7 years ago
Reply to  PdxMark

No. Auto headlights are primarily for seeing the road with being seen as a secondary consideration. Bike headlights are primarily, but not exclusively, for being seen. Auto speeds are almost always greater, thus the need for seeing the travelled way for a greater distance in advance, which is why high beams exist.

I was driving through Ladd’s Addition the other evening and the on-coming bicyclists with blinkies were definitely easier to recognize as bicyclists than those with steady lights.

I’ll continue to run blinkies whenever I’m sharing the road with any motorists; I’ll run my headlight on steady on MUPs. I’m not stopping to change my rear light from blinking to steady and steady to blinking when my commute includes a section of the Springwater Corridor with streets before and after.

Eric Iverson
Eric Iverson
7 years ago

2 Reasons I no longer Blink: The small chance that a blinking light could cause a seizure for someone is reason enough for me to not blink. Additionally, as someone stated, it is more difficult to track the speed and direction of a blinking light rather than steady light.

TJ
TJ
7 years ago

I’m not sure I want government regulations on anything to do with bicycle equipment. The market is niche enough that it can be self-regulated through consumer and retail choice and silent trend persecution.

I fear the blinky complaints will tumble into something larger than need be eventually bringing the demise of many creative quirks afforded by current cycling culture.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
7 years ago
Reply to  TJ

I would disagree in terms of bicycle head lamps…the German regulations for bicycle head lamps have created a very high quality safe headlamp with a beam cutoff similar to motor vehicle head lights. I wish the LED head lamp makers of on road (not off road) equipment for the US would adopt these guidelines for beam design and focusing.

Having several hundred LUX does not do you, the traffic or your power supply if >50% of it is wasted and spread all over the place (sky, ground, etc.) It blinds traffic and you. If you ride out in the country or the woods then its a different situation…but not on the Hawthorne Bridge…just take a seat and watch the parade of head lamps to see my point.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
7 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

Our current mixed up / dire situation is a result of the BMA & then the CPSC “categorizing” bicycles as children’s toys and not transportation devices in the late 1960s/ 1970s. Versus how Germany through its stVZO rules have implemented rules for cyclist safety vs. manufacturer protection. Look at the US and how some bicycle companies place warning labels on their bicycles to “not ride at night” etc.

John Forester shares some history [one thing we agree on]:
http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/lights.htm

http://chicargobike.blogspot.com/2013/04/stvzo-german-bicycle-requirements-make.html

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/plight.asp

TJ
TJ
7 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

Like I said, we can self-regulate. I’d rather not find ourselves in a regulated situation where “country” bikes, racing bikes, and mountain bikes aren’t “street” legal as is the case with cars. Should you bump the lights down when coming out of the West Hills, Dirty 30, etc… yes. But to regulate creates barriers to both new business and new riders across all disciplines.

DynoHubs are great, but I’m not riding a sled 24/7 around Portland. Too, seems regulation would be the death of many re-imagined raleigh grand prix.

Not sure how I feel about bikes being defined as “toys” vs. transportation devices. Most of my bikes are toys. I mostly commute on the toys. If the bike more described as a commuter is a transportation device, it also happens to be the one that is my least invested and least thrilling to ride –I sometimes ride a few beers down on it. I’d rather not have my government approved transportation bike chip away at my toy stable.

Nathan Hinkle (The Bike Light Database)

Wow. Check out Sombra’s latest ad on YouTube, and consider if this is really a company you want to support:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2HV7z7MkR4

The ad shows an older couple driving past a person on a bicycle with a relatively dim blinky light (something like the Planet Bike Blinky 3 it looks like – hardly an obnoxious light). Inside the cabin of the car they show huge dramatic blinding flashes of red light that never could’ve been produced by the same bike light shown in the video. Then they show the passenger of the vehicle opening her door to knock the rider off the bike. The video then cuts to a harley rider swinging a baseball bat at the bike rider to apparently “punish” them for having an “annoying bike light” by beating them up.

Essentially what this ad is saying is, “we think that anybody not using our [shitty] product should be physically assaulted and possibly killed”. Pardon my language, but what the actual fuck, Sombra? This type of fear-mongering, victim-blaming, and proliferation of violent anti-cycling rhetoric is completely unacceptable.

invisiblebikes
invisiblebikes
7 years ago

Totally agree!

BIKELEPTIC
7 years ago

That youtube video is really horrific and confusing to me.
It’s obviously filmed not in the USA based on the traffic signals in the background. (There is a couple UK signage in the background); but is it supposed to be catered to the USA audience by the use of the american driving; or is it farcical by the bizarre forced cowboy narration and comical music? Is this how people in the UK see American driver/cyclist relationships?

It’s in really poor taste; I agree.

David Feldman
David Feldman
7 years ago

I’ve been a regular nighttime cyclist since 1973. In that time, lighting has improved beyond my belief just as driver attentiveness and behavior has deteriorated. Blinkers are the sharp stick in the eye that most US drivers need; this product is stupid and irresponsible beyond anything!

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
7 years ago
Reply to  David Feldman

Yep!

ed
ed
7 years ago
Reply to  David Feldman

So if they’re a sharp stick in the eye for momentarily passing motorists, it follows they’re much sharper for following cyclists riding nearby for minutes, eh? Or are you claiming cyclists eyes are less sensitive than motorists? Better to complete the logic of your thinking rather than leaving it halfway…

ed
ed
7 years ago

…or you could simply set your light to steady rather than blink. In much of the world (especially more cycling savvy countries) any blinking lights on any non-emergency vehicles are illegal. The argument about how much safer people feel when their lights blink reminds me of some the Harley crowd who claim “loud pipes save lives”. Never mind the misery and destructive results of their behavior on others. (riding home late at night and waking up maybe 50,000 people in the process) People can justify all sorts of behavior, and when lights were fraction of the brightness they are now blinking lights might have been rational, but no longer. Just. Stop. Modern steady lights can be plenty bright and plenty safe. Worried about battery life? Try rechargeables… or what the rest of world does – pedal powered (dynamo lighting) for your commute etc.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago

J_R
No. Auto headlights are primarily for seeing the road with being seen as a secondary consideration. Bike headlights are primarily, but not exclusively, for being seen. Auto speeds are almost always greater, thus the need for seeing the travelled way for a greater distance in advance, which is why high beams exist.
I was driving through Ladd’s Addition the other evening and the on-coming bicyclists with blinkies were definitely easier to recognize as bicyclists than those with steady lights.
I’ll continue to run blinkies whenever I’m sharing the road with any motorists; I’ll run my headlight on steady on MUPs. I’m not stopping to change my rear light from blinking to steady and steady to blinking when my commute includes a section of the Springwater Corridor with streets before and after.
Recommended 1

The enormous improvements in bike lighting over the years have resulted in lights that will let you see where you’re going, as well as be seen.
I use a mid-line Shimano dynohub and the bottom of the line Busch and Mueller LED headlight–that rig shows me the bad stuff in the road for sure.

PdxMark
PdxMark
7 years ago

The supposed benefit/need for bright rear blinkies is not relevant to high (bike) traffic urban bike routes like NE Weidler and NE Williams, where that bright rear blinkie is in the midst of a flow of bike traffic with rear lights. For any cyclist behind a bright blinkie, the increase in distraction and decrease in visibility are significant. Please turn your bright blinkies onto steady mode for in-town commutes.

PS And this applies doubly (or triply) for those who are now using bright white rear-facing blinkies.

Paul Cone
Paul Cone
7 years ago
Reply to  PdxMark

No, sorry, I’m not going to stop and toggle my “blinkie” just for high traffic streets.

Nathan Hinkle (The Bike Light Database)
Reply to  PdxMark

Nobody ought to be using rear-facing white lights. If you see people doing that and are comfortable approaching them, you may want to inform them that rear-facing white lights are dangerous for the rider and people around them, and are illegal as well.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago

PdxMark
The supposed benefit/need for bright rear blinkies is not relevant to high (bike) traffic urban bike routes like NE Weidler and NE Williams, where that bright rear blinkie is in the midst of a flow of bike traffic with rear lights. For any cyclist behind a bright blinkie, the increase in distraction and decrease in visibility are significant. Please turn your bright blinkies onto steady mode for in-town commutes.
PS And this applies doubly (or triply) for those who are now using bright white rear-facing blinkies.
Recommended 0

You-re wrong–there is a visual discipline that one learns from night cycling. There will always be distracting lights when riding at night in the city; you have to learn to look around them. Example–two lane road, oncoming cars, but you’ve got a fog line–keep most of your attention on the fog line and you won’t be able to ignore the car headlights but they’ll bother you less.

rain panther
rain panther
7 years ago

I honestly would never have had an inkling that blinking lights were such a tremendous problem if it weren’t for the repeated, protracted, back-and-forth word skirmishes in bikeportland’s comment section.

Also, that Sombra ad is truly gross.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago

ed
…or you could simply set your light to steady rather than blink. In much of the world (especially more cycling savvy countries) any blinking lights on any non-emergency vehicles are illegal. The argument about how much safer people feel when their lights blink reminds me of some the Harley crowd who claim “loud pipes save lives”. Never mind the misery and destructive results of their behavior on others. (riding home late at night and waking up maybe 50,000 people in the process) People can justify all sorts of behavior, and when lights were fraction of the brightness they are now blinking lights might have been rational, but no longer. Just. Stop. Modern steady lights can be plenty bright and plenty safe. Worried about battery life? Try rechargeables… or what the rest of world does – pedal powered (dynamo lighting) for your commute etc.
Recommended 3

Let’s just say that non-blinking taillights are a luxury for those who live where drivers are human.

PdxMark
PdxMark
7 years ago

Thanks Dave, but there is a major difference between the few seconds a passing car is in sight and the several minutes a super-bright flasher can be right in front of you along a major bikeway. And even using the fogline, on-coming car highbeams are a blinding menace to other road users, even for those few seconds.

Having been riding Portland streets at night since the late 1970’s, your attempt at being “helpful” is patronizing, simplistic, and misguided. If one can comprehend that car high beam headlights can be too bright, it’s should not be too difficult to understand that super-bright rear blinkies in heavy bike traffic could affect other cyclists. How many times have you ridden behind a super-bright flasher for any amount of time to be so certain it’s a non-issue?

Super-bright rear blinkies are intended to be seen by cars at a distance of 100 feet or more. That amount of light in the face of a cyclist 10 feet back is an ill-suited application of that tool.

chillin_in_da_crib
chillin_in_da_crib
7 years ago
Reply to  PdxMark

“How many times have you ridden behind a super-bright flasher for any amount of time to be so certain it’s a non-issue?”

I’d guess he rides behind about as many people as ride behind him. If it hasn’t been a particularly annoying issue for him, I suppose it stands to reason that he isn’t bothering too many other cyclists.

Maybe he just doesn’t ride particularly bike-congested routes; I know I don’t. During the dark months, I typically only see 1-3 riders on my 35-40 minute morning commute and another 10-12 on the ride home. Meanwhile, I see quite literally hundreds of cars. If his ride is skewed heavily toward cars over bikes, it’s perhaps understandable that he’s more concerned about the cars than the bikes.

I think many of us forget that we don’t all share a common experience on our bikes. What works for some simply fails for others.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago
Reply to  PdxMark

Hey, changing of habits can be done. As a man, I’m not Einstein; as a cyclist I’m not Merckx. I’m not giving advice that’s over an average head.
Take it or leave it.

RL
RL
7 years ago

Just retired a couple of years ago, had 20 years of 20 miles commuting by car. I have not experienced any problem tracking a blinking taillight even at age 60+ years. Personally, the blinking light gets noticed at much greater distances than a steady on mode. If you are annoyed by blinking taillights, that does not make them unsafe. Buses, utility vehicles, and emergency vehicles have blinking lights that are much brighter than bike blinkies and nobody gets their knickers in a knot about them. And an increasing number of new cars, vans, SUVs, and pickups (meeting Federal regulations) are coming standard with bright LED turn signals that a bike blinkie cannot hold a candle to. Get used to it.