Weekender Ride

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Solid Beam Lights Rock!

Subscriber Post by Rivelo on September 20th, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Our single-most “liked” Instagram/Facebook/Twitter post ever.

“Likes” don’t make right, of course, but they might indicate that the message has resonated with a lot of riders who are temporarily blinded by other cyclists on paths like the Eastbank Esplanade and the Springwater Corridor.

If the people riding toward you can’t see you because your flashing strobe headlight is too bright, you’re not safe or seen.

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21 Comments
  • Paul Atkinson September 20, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    I generally set my light to flashing in the daytime and solid at night, on the hypothesis that in the daytime the blinky would be more visible and less annoying than at night.

    I’m interested to hear thoughts on that. I’m not committed to doing it that way, but so far it makes sense to me.

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    • Eric Leifsdad September 20, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      I think the danger of blinking is drivers mis-judging your speed relative to theirs, or not being able to look directly at you if too brightly blinking. If you’re moving very slowly on a climb, blinking might be good. But I’ve had too many close calls (in the daytime) which seemed like failure to judge speed until I switched to running only solid lights (and 2 on each end with some space between them e.g. white on handlebar+fork, red on seat+dropout.) Even with 2 solid and one flashing tail light, I think there’s a tendency to treat you too much like a stationary obstacle, which seems to setup a lot of passing conflicts when moving at 12mph or more.

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  • Rivelo
    Rivelo September 20, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Paul, some of the blinking lights, even in the daytime, can be blinding on the narrow bike paths. I regularly have to turn my head passing other riders on the Esplanade, even with sunglasses on.

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  • Andy K September 20, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    To make your commenting easier, I’ve linked to all 259 of your comments on this subject in 2014. Just copy and paste into this post!
    http://bikeportland.org/2014/07/08/grafitti-northwest-portland-rages-blinking-bike-lights-108410

    Protect yourself on your bike by riding the way you want with the light settings you want.

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    • Rivelo
      Rivelo September 20, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks for the link. Just to be clear, we’re talking about car-free bike paths where bright, flashing lights not only don’t protect you, they endanger other riders, who are struck blind by bright, flashing strobe lights.

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      • Andy K September 20, 2016 at 9:03 pm

        There is no such thing as a car-free bike path, and blink mode could save your life.

        http://bikeportland.org/2016/08/24/another-car-on-the-i-205-path-190175

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        • Rivelo
          Rivelo September 21, 2016 at 6:37 am

          I guess we’ll never know. It’s quite possible that a bright flashing light could further disorient an already (obviously) disoriented driver.

          Cars on bike paths like the Eastbank Esplanade are considerably more rare than cyclists blinding other cyclists. I’ll take my chances.

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) September 20, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    It’s insanity when people use blinking lights ON AN ORGANIZED BIKE RIDE. You are blinding and annoying cyclists near you.

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    • B. Carfree September 20, 2016 at 9:21 pm

      I’ve been on some organized ride routes where it wouldn’t be prudent to not have a rear blinky at times. If I’m in a group or about to pick up a tail, I’ll reach back and shut it down, but when I’m not in such a group, I’ll happily use the second-brightest light I know of.

      If you’re referring to front lights, how is that affecting other riders?

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      • Rivelo
        Rivelo September 21, 2016 at 6:43 am

        > If you’re referring to front lights, how is that affecting other riders?

        This post is more about bike paths than organized rides. Oncoming riders on car-free bike paths using bright blinking headlights make it hard for the rest of us to navigate the path, especially when they’re coming straight at us. They can’t see. How could they? Their lights are not illuminating the road. We can’t see. It’s a bad combo.

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      • Spiffy November 16, 2016 at 7:24 am

        on group rides a bright front light illuminates multiple people in front of you, causing the people in front of you to be following bikes with their rears blinking annoyingly…

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  • JeffS September 20, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Blinking headlights are pointless, and people complaining about my bright headlight are, without exception, members of the Portland victim class. I couldn’t care less what they think.

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    • eli bishop September 20, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Just point it DOWN so it’s not in our EYES. That’s all we’re asking.

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    • Spiffy November 16, 2016 at 7:25 am

      the only people that have complained about my bright light are the houseless on the Springwater who are sitting on the ground at light level…

      nothing I can do about that… but it sure is scary when they come at you screaming from the dim shadows…

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  • Rivelo
    Rivelo September 21, 2016 at 6:19 am

    To Jeff S I would say, Eli Bishop is saying ALL that we’re saying.

    Of course, you are free to ignore a simple request that puts no one in danger, and makes the paths safer (and less annoying) for the rest of us.

    We, on the other hand, are free to complain about it.

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  • Raymond L. September 21, 2016 at 10:53 am

    To Rivelo, you might want to differentiate between day and night riding rather than a blanket solid beam aimed down. I ride blinking during the day, light aimed down and to the right. I have parked my bike and walked up to it from a distance, stopping at various times to observe the light (Expilion 850) from various heights and have not noticed any conditions that would be unsafe to an oncoming rider during daytime. I have no control over annoying other than turning my light off. To Eric L, if a driver is judging your speed during the day by whether your light is blinking or solid, there is an issue as to why he cannot judge your speed by seeing a helmet, bike, torso or moving legs. I bike about 2500 miles during the year (mostly during the day) but I am also a driver and I say to those daytime bikers with blinking front and rear lights, you are much more obvious and visible than bikers with solid lights. At 68 years old, I have no problems judging your speed or distance from my vehicle. Happy riding to all.

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  • Rivelo
    Rivelo September 22, 2016 at 6:20 am

    > To Rivelo, you might want to differentiate between day and night riding rather than a blanket solid beam aimed down.

    Raymond, again we are only talking about car-free bike paths. You might be surprised how distracting your bright flashing light is to other cyclists, even during the daytime. (Personally, I’m not sure why people use lights on bike paths during the day when the sun is shining and everything and everyone is perfectly visible…but that’s another story.)

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    • Raymond L. September 22, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      Not to draw this out but I stand by my comments regarding parking my bike, with the blinking light aimed down and to the right, and observing it at various distances and heights. Beyond this are comments from other bicyclists, 47 positive comments (generally what brand is that light, where did you buy it, how much does it cost) and 7 negative comments. Yes, I do keep a tally. I keep hoping I’ll get to a 7 to 1 ratio and increase it but comments received so far indicate that I am on the right track. Also, sunshine is a component of creating shade in which many bicyclists without lights are very difficult to see, let alone perfectly visible. Continued happy riding to all.

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  • Robert Burchett September 23, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Thanks Rivelo!

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  • drew September 28, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    The standards for car lights were figured out a long time ago. Motorists don’t drive around with blinkies. It would be too annoying.

    Blinkey mode is for emergencies.

    Low beams for bikes are only possible from a few makers, like Schmidt.
    Most bike lights for sale are just primitive stadium type lights.
    Unfortunately, thats what gets put on most bikes that get a “real” light system.

    The cheap “emergency” blinky lights go on everything else, because almost all bikes sold are toys that do not have a dedicated light system. And riders are supposed to have something…

    Nobody wants to spend the hundreds of $$ to put a steady low beam dynamo system on their bike. Even if they knew it existed.

    I just tilt my cap down when you present me with your annoying emergency blinkey light.

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    • Spiffy November 16, 2016 at 7:28 am

      “Motorists don’t drive around with blinkies.”

      they do, they’re just on two wheels…

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