Not using dazzling lights in traffic…

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  • Not using dazzling lights in traffic…
  • soma_rich
    Member

    Last night I had a driver have a pop at me for having bright lights, I was running my XML 1200 Lumen cheapo light on low so not massively bright.

    But I would rather him notice my bright light than not notice my little flasshy light.

    So what’s the case for not using bright lights on the road? Their not going to cause an accident as far as I can see.

    normal lights: 5 pedestrians step out in front of me in the rain
    super bright lights: none do

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    So what’s the case for not using bright lights on the road?

    IIRC the argument is that you dazzle or confuse a driver and instead of driver thinking “hmm what’s that?” and slowing down or displaying a bit of caution they just carry on regardless in a state of confusion/dazzlement.

    I’m not sure which way I fall on this one to be honest, I don’t like regularly being dazzled by car lights whenever there is an undulation in the road, but the idea (and some personal experience) that drivers might be unsure but carry on anyway sounds believable (and damned scary).

    <edit> pretty sure this was the argument put to me when I was talking about aiming a bright headtorch at drivers nosing out of side streets an effort to stop them pulling out infront of me. As posters below comment there could be issues for oncoming traffic.

    I always cycle the light down the lowest setting and point it down so I am sure it is not going catch any driver in the eyes. I imagine most handlebar mounted lights are right at a car drivers eye level.
    Most of us would expect the car driver to switch to dipped beam when they saw us coming the other way. Just extend the same courtesy.

    soobalias
    Member

    i dip them

    unless the oncoming driver cant seem to do likewise, then i illuminate the inside of the vehicle and burn the drivers retinas till they see sense.

    then i dip them again

    (bar or helmet mounted)

    soma_rich
    Member

    bar mounted not that dipped as I was riding fast down unlit country lanes.

    gwj72
    Member

    It’s not the brightness that’s the issue, its the fact that they are often not dipped to the road and shining right into the eyes of the driver.

    I had a similar experience last week with a rider on my road who completely dazzled me. I had the sense to stop and wait till I could see and glad I did as there were other less illuminated riders in the same party I might have missed (well hit).

    Just angle it down off your bars and it shouldn’t be an issue.

    Dazzle drivers, leaving them temporarily blinded. They might well miss you but drive into the poor sap behind you.

    Do the same for other cyclists. They might not ride into traffic but could easily hit a pot hole and come off.

    Point it down and toward the kerb – much much closer than you’d set it up for riding off road – the top of the spot about 3m away is about right

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    problem with MTB lights is they are quite focussed, if you dip them how good are they as “Look at me, see me, please don’t kill me” lights? Proper blinkers with wide “viewing angle” are probably better.

    Mr Woppit
    Member

    Haven’t got back on the bike to commute yet, but last winter I noticed (hard not to really) there are some REALLY BRIGHT red rear bike lights about. Enormously bl++dy annoying because they’re actually bright enough to cause temporary blindness.

    I know we all need to be seen, but sheeeeeesh…. 🙁

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    I angle mine down, but I do tend to prefer “your lights are distracting” to SMIDSY…

    soma_rich
    Member

    I angle mine down, but I do tend to prefer “your lights are distracting” to SMIDSY..

    My point exactly BigDummy in the city and lit cycle paths I use a little flashy 1W LED thing, but I need to see potholes on unlit country roads.

    scruff
    Member

    Cyclist came opposite way to me last night with flasher on high and pointing straight out, I couldnt see a thing.

    allthepies
    Member

    If I use mine on the road then I angle it down substantially. The beam pattern it too flood-like to be pointed straight ahead, even on low power IMO.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Tricky innit?

    My experience of bright LED lights (including my own) is that they can be quite “sparkly” and dazzling even when on low settings and aimed downwards.

    On the other hand, I frequently find drivers (correctly) giving way to me at night when I know from experience that the same drivers were pulling out on me when it was still light in the evening.

    eyerideit
    Member

    Cyclist came opposite way to me last night with flasher on high and pointing straight out, I couldnt see a thing.

    I had someone behind me with a massively bright light on a helmet mount and I couldn’t see what was in front of me and this was on well lit London roads.

    I think bright lights are good but they have to be fit for purpose. Do you really need 1200000000000000 lupin light? You might be OK but other road users may be adversely affected by it.

    I’ve nothing against bright lights but you should consider your fellow road user.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    An informative test that every cyclist should try is to set up your bike with your lights on, then walk a good distance away and see what it looks like as you walk back towards it.

    Do this from both ends AND the side.

    You may be shocked at how dazzling or invisible you are.

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    I like having a helmet mounted light on low in addition so I can flash someone coming in from the side if I think they haven’t seem me. I might do the Grahams test and see if it is a bit much though. Finding the right level of rear light is a real problem though as some are just too intense now and it is horrible riding behind them

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Subscriber

    Some good advice above. I totally agree with dipping them. You’d be pretty pee’d off if a driver kept his main beam on. Common courtesy to do the same even if that means you have to slow down for a bit. By all means use the max when there is no one around, when then are other road users then dip them.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    I use an XML torch which I’ve got masked off and aimed low- it has the potential to glare when I want it to, but not when I don’t. (and once you get used to the idea, the capacity to searchlight dozey drivers to get their attention is extremely useful.)

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    My commute along a cycle path is becoming very hazardous as stupidly bright lights from cyclists in the opposite direction are completely blinding me – I nearly hit a pedestrian last night. Have some consideration FFS.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    My helmet mounted light is angled downwards by quite a significant amount – in normal riding position it’s flashing on the road about 6ft in front of the wheel. But a simple tilt of the head and I can eyeball drivers if necessary.

    I only ever have it on Low or Medium settings anyway in traffic.

    Premier Icon kilo
    Subscriber

    BigDummy – Member

    I angle mine down, but I do tend to prefer “your lights are distracting” to SMIDSY..

    +1 My commute involves very few other cyclists but lots of traffic. I tilt the light down but if it irritates the odd motorist I am not too fussed, more so given, the number of drivers on my commute on the phone, jumping lights, giving me no room, driving with only one headlamp (a new south London favourite)etc. I have had less (only 1) smidsy’s since getting these lights.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    I totally agree with dipping them. You’d be pretty pee’d off if a driver kept his main beam on.

    As was mentioned on another thread about this, there seems to be a growing need for bike lights that actually properly dip like car headlights do, rather than just reducing power output.

    Be good if they could shape the beam for road use like car headlights do.

    I found a frosted deodorant spray can lid which conveniently is just the right size to clip on the front of my light and acts like a short of diffuser. Reduces the intensity and also makes it visible from all angles rather than just in front. Because there’s a bit of scatter it lights up my day glo clad arms too.

    Easy to DIY something similar for any light really.

    The german stvzo standard is supposed to achieve that i think, not many on sale in the UK tho. And most of the lights are dyno powered, with a few adapted for battery use (but with short ish run times).

    Theres some beam shots of this one if you click the little circle things in the pic
    http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/article/trelock-ls-750-i-go-ion-battery-front-light/aid:549491

    amedias
    Member

    I’ve noticed a similar trend with car lights too over recent years, especially the LED ones, at certain angles they are quite dazzling, the problem thats now creeping in is that since lights are so bright, you need a bright light to stand out amongst them, and thus begins the escalating lumen war… it’s a pickle to be sure

    I try my best to angle down when in town and when oncoming cars approaching in the lanes but you need it angled up enough to illuminate the road when out of town…

    pdw
    Member

    Here’s a beam shot from my Philips SafeRide:

    Note the sharp cut-off, and that the brightest part of the beam is just below the cut-off. This means that the brightest part of the beam is illuminating the road furthest away from you, giving a very even illumination over a large area, without being at all dazzling to other people.

    The cut-off is actually sharper than it looks in this photo, as there’s a bit of a reflection on the garage door.

    retro83
    Member

    soma_rich – Member
    So what’s the case for not using bright lights on the road? Their not going to cause an accident as far as I can see.

    Well maybe not going to cause you to have an accident…

    BTW To those wearing a helmet mounted light: please don’t look at the driver of oncoming cars or the riders of bikes riding towards you! Starting to become a bit of a nuisance round here TBH.

    Tempting to give them the high beams back when in the car, and I’ve already put the MagicShine on strobe mode in retaliation toward one persistent old twit. (Yes I’m an arsehole 😆 )

    On country roads I don’t meet cars too often and simply hood the light with my gloved hand as I draw near. Also use this technique to flash drivers out of junctions in the same way you would in a car. They really respond well to this as they are used to that signal.

    I’m on a mission to improve relations between drivers and cyclists.

    pdw
    Member

    So what’s the case for not using bright lights on the road?

    The same as the one for not driving around with your car headlights on full beam?

    oldnick
    Member

    The Philips light above has a designed beam pattern unlike my MTB lights which just project a cone of light, great for me on the trails but shite for other road users.

    Good luck getting people to change to a more appropriate lamp after they have bought a gazillion lumen searchlight…

    DanW
    Member

    An informative test that every cyclist should try is to set up your bike with your lights on, then walk a good distance away and see what it looks like as you walk back towards it.

    Do this from both ends AND the side.

    You may be shocked at how dazzling or invisible you are.

    One of the best points made.

    The lights most of us are using are very bright, very focused and in the right place to dazzle drivers. If cycling is isn’t any bother as most cars tend to stop… but as a driver it’s damned dangerous and dazzling someone not paying attention to stop safely isn’t going to end well.

    A helmet mounted light on low (even the lowest settings are very dazzling to look at directly) and dipped a little seems the best compromise. If there are cars/ walkers oncoming you can look down/ to the side ever so slightly to avoid the dazzle of the light going straight in to their eyes. Also with a helmet mounted light naturally moving around more than a bike mounted light it is more likely to catch a drivers attention… and can be directed to get the attention of someone who might well pull out on you.

    teasel
    Member

    That Philips SafeRide is just what I’ve been looking for. Thanks for that info, PDW.

    dobo
    Member

    just last week i was at a junction trying to turn right with a cyclist standing at the edge of the road on the right with his lights just blazing right at me, he was waiting for me to go presumably because the road was clear but i couldnt see past his light. i was just putting down the window when he got impatient and moved and went behind me.

    this is just one case of many.

    i also have some fairly bright bike lights which i dim and dip on the road but its not ideal.

    tonight i went for a night run in the park with my 150 lumen torch, not 1500, 150 you just cant see past it at night, had a few dog walkers comment on it and its just a fenix torch.

    people just need to be more respectful of others around them with their lights, idealy there needs to be a road mode on lights. wont be long before accident start to crop up from blinding lights.

    pdw
    Member

    That Philips SafeRide is just what I’ve been looking for. Thanks for that info, PDW.

    No problem – I should note that it’s modified to work around the standard electronics (which are rubbish) and to give it a little extra oomph.

    Sadly, it seems that there just aren’t any really good, battery powered road lights, and until there are, you can understand why people buy MTB lights instead.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Sadly, it seems that there just aren’t any really good, battery powered road lights, and until there are, you can understand why people buy MTB lights instead.

    Yeah that’s the issue I have. The beam pattern on that Philips looks great but even with your boosted electronics I don’t fancy trying to spot a black extendable dog lead stretched across a pitch black unlit path (a surprisingly common occurrence on my commute!).

    I’m using a Gloworm X2 – which is a great light. I can quickly click between two programmable levels by pressing a remote button. I generally use about 200 lumen and 1000 lumen. But it can still be blinding even when angled down so I tend to shade it a bit with my hand when I have oncoming cyclists.

    Premier Icon BlobOnAStick
    Subscriber

    This week, instead of having 2 lights on my bars (one flashing, one steady) I’ve had a flashing light on the bars and put the other one on my crossbar, pointing up at my chest on steady to create a larger lit up area. It seems to get me noticed a bit more, but I have no evidence one way or another……

    I like the helmet mounted lights for commuting. 2 reasons: you can force drivers to acknowledge you by briefly dazzling them (and then pointing the light down at the road) and secondly because no one else on the road uses a light that wobbles around like that – you’re instantly recognisable as someone on a bike which hopefully means drivers wil take more care.

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