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August 19, 2017
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  • messenger666

    While I agree DRL might add some additional viewabilty, wearing florescent yellow or orange is a much better way to be seen. I would rather been seen than be fashionable. The POC clothing is the Beez Knees.

    • James Huang

      No question, fluorescent clothing is very helpful, particularly when placed strategically. But as I said in the article intro, not everyone is keen to spend a lot of money revamping their cycling wardrobe so as something fluorescent everyday, in all conditions. Good DRLs are wickedly bright and incredibly hard to miss from considerable distances, can easily be transferred from bike to bike, and are cheaper to purchase.

      • roblynn

        Also keep in mind fluorescent clothing on moving parts (legs, shoes) is great during the day with actual sunlight but useless at night unless reflective. Thus lights are again the far more appropriate “go to”.

        • POC says not just fluorescent colors, but contrast. They use a combo of bright/fluoro orange, black and white for visibility and recognition in varying conditions.

    • Ed E W

      I have daylight running lights. No way am I going to wear FREDY florescent kit.

      • James Huang

        I use a mix: DRLs front and rear, and touches of fluorescent here and there (usually just helmet and shoes) depending on what I’m testing at the moment. More importantly, I consciously stay off of heavily trafficked roads when possible, and also try to ride during off-hours when I know there are fewer people on the roads.

        • Allez Rouleur

          Another safety measure I’ve taken, even on my road bikes: 3M makes black tape that shows up hi viz/white under a light. For bikes without reflectors, some of this tape on your pedals or cranks or rims can be really smart. Rotating parts and if you can find a black area, you don’t even see it, so it doesn’t ruin the aesthetics.

          • David Williams

            There is actually heaps of reflective vinyls out there that are highly reflective, but look ‘normal’ in daylight and you can colour match them to the bike.

            Friend got a sticker kit made up for his Propel. Looks completely standard by day, but at night when light is shone over the bike, all the Giant branding/logos are reflective orange.

              • Wily_Quixote

                Is there something about this kit that makes you pedal frantically?

                • James Huang

                  No, but I’m guessing the fixed gear perhaps has something to do with it ;)

                  • Wily_Quixote

                    yep, that man needs a derailleur more than he needs a shiny tracksuit.

            • Reflective materials are less than passive visibility. They require a direct light source in the line of sight of the viewer. If the driver has their headlights off, or are on a side street, you are invisible.
              All cars have reflectors front, back and sides. When was the last time you thought “I would not have seen that car if not for the reflectors” on a grey, cloudy, or foggy day?

      • The kit does not have to be fluorescent, just be sure it is not effectively camouflage. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1014da80cbb694e49366205e015a96cab9e12e2fe2a264b74b22378567044293.jpg

    • Adam Reith

      When i’m driving, I’m able to notice flashing lights from much further away than fluo clothing. At times, green fluo can blend in with background foliage.

  • d;

    The pertinent point of perception of what is the norm probably means that as more and more cyclists run day lights we become more and more invisible. It doesn’t stop me from being more of a convert however. I also pay more attention to contrasting clothing rather than flouro per se. That generally means avoiding dark/dull/black.

    • James Huang

      Yes, and that’s something I thought about. But that being said, it’ll be a long time (if ever) before drivers are more accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road than other cars. So long as that disparity exists, drivers will always be paying more attention to other cars than other road users.

      • d;

        Totally agree. Here is a personal experience and observation. Two of us were riding along in good visibility with cars passing us and ahead of us; ahead were two pedestrians waiting to cross the road. They started to step out right in front of us, after the cars went past them. Yes, only saw cars but not cyclists (not one but two!).

  • Allez Rouleur

    Wow, how timely! I was just discussing this topic, as someone I know says flashing lights aren’t more helpful than a steady beam when riding in city/urban settings. I find it hard to believe a bright, blinking front light is not going to stand out more than a steady light.

    Lots of good info here. I ALWAYS run front and rear lights, no matter what time or the lighting/weather conditions. And, no matter if I’m commuting or road cycling. I actually have gone all in and generally run two up front and two in the back, one on steady, one of some sort of blinking pattern.

    As for clothes…I searched for YEARS for race-fit hi viz clothes, as they all seem to be club fit. Giordana makes some awesome, race-cut jerseys in hi viz. They’re excellent.

    And, as much as I support science and research, I also don’t buy into hi viz clothes and lights not making a difference. Whether you’re on a bike or in a car, a cyclist with either or both of those jumps out to me much faster/at a great distance than a cyclist without them. (Just one reason I’m aghast at all the cool blogs/sites/teams around the world posting on the ‘net with almost wholly black kits. I get it, you are covered in tattoos and really cool…but being dead isn’t that cool to me.) For commuting I typically wear a workman’s hi viz jacket. I feel like it gives me a mental edge too. Instead of “Look at that fruitcake in tight clothes on a bike, I should throw my open beer at him!” I hope they think, “Shit, look at that poor bastard biking home from the construction site. Sheriff probably got him for drunk driving…I’ll give that sorry guy a wider birth.”

    Also, gotta laugh about Trek paying Clemson to do the research…a university in one of the most backwards states and one that I’ve heard/read is horrible for road cycling. They’ll study cycling safety, but the DOT won’t do anything to improve it. Comical.

    • d;

      Don’t want to be a party pooper but we are not normal lay people. We are cyclists and we notice cyclists more, and consequently evaluate them including whether they’re more prominent with lights, bright clothing etc. I too don’t care that the science may be right.

      • Allez Rouleur

        Nah, no harm done. You’re totally right – I notice bikes, peds, squirrels…everything much more than your average person who drives everywhere. When you’ve nearly been run over, you’re more attentive AND more sympathetic to things not in cars.

        Since I haven’t owned a car for well over a decade and use a bike daily, I also noticed how downright reckless and crazy most motorists are. When I do drive, I don’t trust any of the other drives and expect most of them are drunk, high on prescription drugs, or texting. And, I drive so much more slowly and carefully than most drivers. I have ZERO interest in smashing into something at any rate of speed.

    • Aaron Humphrey

      Clemson can’t do a study on visual response because you say the state has a reputation for treating cyclists poorly? I’ve seen lots of asinine comments before, but this is a topper. Please explain the correlation between regional driving conditions and how that impacts the caliber of university research.

      • Allez Rouleur

        Yikes, relax. I just find it comical that the state has notoriously horrible cycling infrastructure…yet a university housed in the state is studying how cyclists can be more safe/visible. Relax, go for a bike ride. Never said they can’t do the study.

    • Bones

      Do some research on South Carolina, while 30 years ago it was considered backward, not so today. Major manufacturing state.

  • Allez Rouleur

    Also, thanks for all the useful info, James!

  • changrenyong

    Thanks for the great article. I am thankful something is finally written about cycling DRL. Other than when I’m racing my bike, I ride with both front and rear lights set to blink during the day. It’s illegal in the state of Washington to have a blinking headlight but I think that outdated regulation should be changed to to exclude bicycles.

    I happen to own Lupine’s Rotlicht and have been using it for more than two years. I originally purchased the Rotlicht for its accelerometer-based brake light feature. In theory, depending on the setting, the brake light is supposed to engage when you hit the brakes. I find that the accelerometer sensitivity setting needs to be set to the highest in order for the brake light to engage when braking. However, at that high sensitivity, it causes the brake light to be unnecessarily triggered on uneven surface (the roads in Seattle are not exactly smooth like butter). Even at mid sensitivity, the Rotlicht is still too sensitive to bumps. At low sensitivity, the Rotlicht is less sensitive to bumps but at the same time, the brake light does not seem to engage at all unless I hit the brakes really hard. As you mentioned in your article, the Rotlicht also has a light sensor. I don’t know if it produces higher output during the day but from my tests, the Rotlicht does produce higher output if its light sensor detects a bright light shining directly on it (at its brightest setting, the LED light from my iPhone 7 has to be within 6 inches of the Rotlicht for it to produce a noticeably brighter output).

    Up front, I have a Cygolite Dash 300 (I think that’s the model). That headlight has four small LEDs on top that can be set to light up (solid or blink) independent of the main light. Cygolite calls it the DayLightning mode.

    As bike light manufacturers race to produce the brightest light with the most lumen, I think they have ignored one crucial area. The use of such bright headlights on multi-use paved bike trails in urban areas. I can’t tell you how many times I get temporarily blinded by these poorly-designed and/or poorly-aimed high-powered headlights during those dark winter commute home. The more considerate riders with these headlights typically cover the lights when approached by oncoming cyclists but many don’t. I think many users of such lights simply do not understand how blindingly bright their headlights are. How many of us actually test the headlight we mount on our bikes to make sure it does not blind other users of the trail? Bike light manufacturers should really consider adding a bike trail mode that projects a more focused beam to prevent blinding oncoming cyclists. Garmin’s speed-dependent Varia headlight is supposed to project closer as lower speed but it’s not clear to me if the beam pattern is designed to be less blinding.

    May be this is a topic you could explore :) Thanks again for this article.

  • Rob Smallman

    Bontrager bar and stem with a Canyon seatpost on your Seven frame, for shame James.

    • Sunny Ape

      Harsh :)

    • James Huang

      You forgot to mention the Whisky Parts fork.

    • James Huang

      In all seriousness, though, that’s my personal bike, and I use it as a testbed for all sorts of review products. Much as I’d like to keep it 100% consistent from day to day, it’s invariably a challenge. A few months ago, I was using TRP Hy/Rd disc brake calipers; now I’ve got a set of Yokozuna Motokos on there. Likewise, I was running some Enve SES 4.5AR Disc wheels late last year, but they’ve been traded for the Industry Nine wheels in the pictures. I do try to keep the saddle unchanged (at least on this bike) for obvious reasons. As for the seatpost, one of the last things I did before I left BikeRadar was a big comparison review of multiple soft-riding carbon fiber seatposts. This one came out on top so it’s been on there ever since (replacing an Enve in the process).

  • Simon E

    Unlike those who think DRLs all the time are necessarily good, I remain unconvinced. For one thing, it can lull the rider into a false sense of security – “the driver in the side road will have seen me with my zillion lumen retina-blaster so I won’t cover my brakes”. Witness the comment above about motorcyclists who find that having dipped beam on in daylight is not a solution (which I said back in 2004 when the new Honda VFR800 was introduced with no ‘Off’ position for headlight switch). The use of DRLs on cars means that any car without them in a stream of traffic becomes less visible – we all begin to start looking for lights, not vehicles. I also feel that DRLs, on any vehicle, can make it harder to evaluate its speed and trajectory, particularly in lower light levels.

    The winding mountain road image will not be representative of what the driver saw. Not only is the cyclist moving but the image resolved by a relatively wideangle lens’ AoV is not remotely like what they brain perceives from visual data.

    The bicycle on a stand. I can’t figure out why this is used. Where’s the human? You know, the bit that makes up 80%+ of the aerodynamic drag (and therefore the thing you’ll see long before the frame or tyre).

    The gorilla suit with the basketball players? A neat trick but the roads are not littered with people tossing basketballs around. Get a better example.

    Contrast colours work well in most conditions, all it needs is a stripe down your back. Hi-viz aid conspicuity in dull light (orange is best), as do lights of course. Reflectives are excellent at night, unlike hi-viz.

    There’s a guy I often pass on the way to work in the mornings. Wears dull colours and often a woolly hat, riding closer to the kerb/hedge than I do. He only uses a light when it’s properly dark. He’s certainly not easily spotted yet on the busy 40 mph road every single driver that approaches him from behind sees him with time to spare.

    I’m not saying we should wear camouflage to ride our bikes or that you should never use lights except at night. However, I am recommending that you don’t rely on them. And there’s one more potential issue: if enough cyclists flock to ride with lights on in the daytime then it won’t be long before some arsey legislators will want to make them a legal requirement. Bang goes another liberty in the name of “road safety”.

    • Il_falcone

      I really hope you will survive despite your attitude. But I recommend you do the very simple experiment. Install a very bright taillight like the Lupine Rotlicht on flashing mode and ride with it on a bright sunny day. During that ride change between switched-on and switched-off numerous times. When I did that several years ago I was immediately convinced. The difference in the distance and the manner how (close to) 100% of the motorists are passing me is enormous. No more road rides without the Rotlicht for me anymore.

      • Simon E

        It’s a pity that, like so many people on the internet, you can’t tolerate a differing opinion – or, perish the thought, ask whether it may have some validity – before resorting to a personal dig. My comments are based on many years of experience and keen observation and will continue, as I’m not about to get complacent.

        • Il_falcone

          “you can’t tolerate a differing opinion – or, perish the thought, ask
          whether it may have some validity – before resorting to a personal dig.”

          I absolutely tolerate your opinion. But your reaction indicates that you’re maybe not so open to discussions and a widening of your own horizon.

          I only wished you well and wanted to encourage you to do a little experiment. Before I did that on my own I would not have thought that the outcome, the improvement of my safety would be so drastic. I told my cycling friends about it and every one of them who swallowed his pride of being a cool cyclist who doesn’t use a flashing light in daylight conditions made the same experience as me.

          • Simon E

            You claim to tolerate but don’t even read my comment properly so try to paint me as wanting to be ‘cool’. You don’t know me or you’d know that I never have been (or even tried to be) cool. I refuse to just swallow hype. I have a mind of my own so research widely and decide for myself because issues like this often aren’t as obvious as they might seem. I am open-minded so will continue to research the subject and would be happy to change my view if appropriate.

            If you choose to always ride with DRLs that’s fine. It’s a choice, and I won’t call you names for doing so. However, I feel that they are not a panacea, that there are downsides to their use and that this article is not an evenly balanced examination of the topic.

            • James Huang

              I don’t pretend to claim that DRLs will guarantee a rider’s safety in any way, nor are they a perfect solution to rider visibility. But even the research I’ve cited (all of which, aside from the Trek one with Clemson, is wholly independent) supports the notion that DRLs at least help the situation. For sure, no one should assume a DRL equates to a cloak of invincibility, but if there’s a good chance one will help, and little (if any) evidence that it hurts, I’m all for it.

  • Adam Reith

    let’s stop calling these incidents as “accidents” — they’re not. An “accident” is an unforeseen and _unpreventable_ event. A meteor hitting you in the head, or an earthquake causing a sinkhole to open up under you, is an “accident”.
    The point of the article is avoiding “crashes” & “collisions” through use of daytime lights.
    Calling a car-on-bike collision an “accident” diminishes its severity, and often deflects personal responsibility & negligence
    These are crashes, plain & simple.

    • James Huang

      Every mention of “accident” in this article is either a direct quote or a reference to a published article that specifically describes an “accident”.

      I absolutely agree with you, but I’m not about to change what someone else said or wrote.

      • DaveRides

        How about using the accepted method for pointing out errors without modifying the quote:

        “… the occurrence of bicycle accidents [sic] with personal injury …”

        • James Huang

          Because “accidents” vs. “crashes” constitutes a difference in preferred terminology, not a factual or spelling error.

    • Eric

      Should we also stop calling car-on-car crashes “accidents”, as well? That’s just a convention. As unfortunate as car/bike accidents are, they’re still accidents between two moving vehicles.

      • RayG

        Yes, we should. ‘Accident’ is used too often to imply that no one was at fault.

    • I had an admission to make. I was driving this morning at dusk and came up to a roundabout. There were a couple cyclists who had front flashing lights, I misjudged the speed they were coming into the roundabout at. As I entered the roundabout I realised how quickly they were coming and I basically cut them off. Plain and simple – my fault.

      I was mortified at my mistake. I’m hyper-aware of cyclists while driving all the time and feel I’m pretty educated when it comes to this stuff.

      Call it what you will (‘accident’ ‘crash’ ‘gross negligence’ etc), I didn’t mean to harm anyone and luckily I didn’t. As a cyclist you need to treat every moving vehicle like they’re deaf, blind and dumb as you never know if or how you’re seen out there, even to those motorists who are the most aware. I’m not blaming the victim, however there are all sorts precautions you can take as a cyclist to minimise the risks.

      It grossly oversimplifies things to make it about an ‘us vs them’ thing where all motorists are at fault. Sometimes mistakes happen.

      • I hope you dont drive that Cycling Tips branded Holden ;-) Happens to the best of us and makes us feel ashamed for hours afterwards.

      • George Darroch

        I think that this is a significant problem – there’s such a variance in cyclist speed that it’s hard to know whether they’re going to sit there or charge ahead!

      • Toon

        Can’t believe that nobody else is pedantic enough to pick you up on “this morning at dusk”!!

  • rosscado

    I run 100 lumen rear and 500W front DRLs during the Northern European winter (all lights by Exposure). Motorists have remarked on the visibility when pulled alongside in traffic. And I at least perceive that I am given more passing room when running DRLs.

    • RayG

      I had a driver complain that my Fly12 flashing light, set on low, was too bright while I was waiting behind her at the lights one night. I resisted the urge to turn it on to high, but fancy complaining that a cyclist was too visible.

      • James Huang

        Better to be annoying than dead, I say.

        • Ted Berkowitz

          James, thanks for the informative article? Can you please tell how you mounted the Bontrager ION 700 in the photo. It looks like it is under a garmin mount. That is a much better alternative than the OEM handlebar mount. Thanks,

          Ted

          • James Huang

            Yep, I’m using a K-Edge Combo mount, with a Bontrager Blendr adapter to attach the Ion to the GoPro tabs underneath the computer head. It’s very secure and quite clean.

            • Ted Berkowitz

              Thanks James.

  • johnny knows

    I use one steady light and one flashing. It is often hard to gauge depth/distance of something if it is flashing.
    Thus the steady light gives the approaching driver a depth/distance reference and the flashing hopefully catches their attention.

    • Indeed. See my comment above where I nearly hit a couple cyclists coming into a roundabout this morning by misjudging their speed.

    • Ross

      I have heard that about flashing front lights before (and experienced close calls myself) but always put it down to motorists knowing a flashing light is a cyclist and therefore not giving way, whereas with a solid light motorists aren’t sure if it is a bicycle or motorbike so tend to give way. This is in the dark of course, in daylight motorists *should* be able to tell the difference between cyclist and motorcyclist regardless of flashing or non-flashing light.

  • Eric

    Great article, James. Too many fatal car/bike accidents over the past few years. Led my wife to xmas gift me the full “don’t hit me bundle” of a Bontrager Flare R (for blinding brightness) and the Garmin Varia radar taillight (for my own awareness and peace of mind). When riding solo, I’ll run them both with the Garmin on the low setting. In groups, I’ll just run the Garmin on the high setting.

  • Il_falcone

    James, I would like to ask how the flashing mode of the Bontrager headlight is which you use? I bought the Light & Motion Urban 850 a while ago thinking that this light offers a real intermittent flashing mode but it does not. It offers three steady modes of different brightness and a pulsing mode which rather slowly changes its brightness. The L&M guys think that the pulsing mode is better for visibility but from the experiences I made with it I tend to disagree. Now I’m looking for a compact really bright headlight for day-time use but with a intermittent flash pattern. And preferably Go-Pro Mount compatiblen because I use it with the same Garmin mount as you. And did you submerse the Bontrager under water to find out whether it’s waterproof? I know you don’t ride much in the rain but for us in the Northern part of Europe watertightness is a must.

    • slowK

      I have the same L&M light, and have exactly the same criticism (in an otherwise very good light). The “gentle pulse/throb” mode is just not that attention catching. I find constant on with a sharper, brighter staccato pulse is much more noticeable on other cyclists’ lights (I think the Cateye Volt and Exposure lights do this mode well).

      Eye catching can go too far though – the Bontrager Ion has a crazy flash mode that is so eye catching it’s really annoying to look at.

  • Matthew McArdle

    Don’t be that guy that brings the super bright rear flasher to group rides or mass participation events. ><
    Save it for your dawn/dusk solo rides.

    I also see way too many people using a front flasher only on unlit roads at night! Seems like a good way to crash or eat a pothole.

  • George Darroch

    Love my front and rear Moons, with 120 lumens.

    I do run a DRL, but put it on the helmet as I figure this makes me more obviously a ‘human’. The one disadvantage of brighter lights is they run through the battery more quickly. Having both a static and a flasher solves this and again means that there’s one at head height and one below, meaning they’ve got some idea about how far I am.

  • Rom Phillips

    Our time trial club, ATTA, now mandates the use of rear flashing lights. This is especially useful as most of our TTs are on outer suburban roads with lots of dappled tree cover. I marshalled a corner on a recent event and was actively looking for bikes approaching. It was much easier to make out riders approaching that had flashing front lights.

  • FS

    Does anyone know what out in front garmin / brontrager Ion mount that is? Been looking for one for a while!

    • James Huang

      That’s a K-Edge Combo mount, with a Blendr adapter from Bontrager that lets the Ion light attach to standard GoPro tabs.

      • FS

        Awesome thanks for letting me know!

  • get a dynamo, never look back.

  • Florian

    The Bontrager Flare is a good light if you are riding in nice weather conditions. The flimsy USB port cover will become useless after a few uses and won’t protect the USB port from rain or spray. Just FYI. Same story, albeit the different built, with the Niterider Solas 150. It can’t handle spray even thought the USB port plug is very robust. It even turns off randomly! I’ve gone trough two of each light that I mentioned above.
    No problems whatsoever with the Fly 6 from Cycliq so far. It has been to hell and back with me. It might be the hydrophobic nanocoating that they use on their circuits. Sadly the Fly6 is not very bright and therefore has limited daylight visibility. The Bontrager Flare is definitely a very good option if you want daylight visibility and you ride predominantly during nice weather and dry roads.

  • In Washington State, front flashing lights are illegal. The only flashing lights allowed on (moving) private vehicles are rear mounted red LED lights on bicycles. Rarely enforced, but it is in the vehicle code.

    • DaveRides

      Very good point, the article should have included a reminder to check the relevant local regulations before spending $$$ on new gear.

      In addition to that, single flashing lights are useless for depth perception. Go double or keep it on steady.

  • BTD

    Well written! Thanks for mentioning the point about directing the light somewhere useful. I swear at least a quarter of the cyclists I use using lights have them pointed in some absolutely useless direction. I was amazed at how much nicer vehicles passed once I started riding around with obnoxious lights.

    I really wish we could get on board with better mounting solutions for aero seatposts. That’s probably the main reason I stay off the roads training on my tri/tt bike. The options for a truly “aero” style seatpost or even saddle rails for all of the lights above is nearly non-existent. The Flare R can be re-configured to fit a reflector mount for a Trek Speed Concept, but even that seatpost is a little undersized compared to many of the other ones in the tri/tt market.

    • James Huang

      Just off the top of my head, Cateye offers a dedicated mount for aero seatposts, as do Cycliq (Fly 6) and Topeak. Specialized offers one for some of its own aero seatposts, too. In addition, a handful of companies (Specialized and Lupine, at least) offer saddle rail mounts, too.

      • BTD

        Thanks for the reply! I was really unimpressed by the last Cateye Rapid. I applaud the simplicity of the design, but mine didn’t want to stay ‘on-center’ and it had no tilt adjustment. Cycliq did a nice job with their aero mount. Since I have already spent nearly Cyclig pricing in tail lights, I suppose I shouldn’t whine about the price. I’m not seeing a Topeak mount anywhere. Just a light similar to the Cateye with no tilt adjustment and potentially the same off-center problem.

        The little extender straps (à la Planet Bike) don’t stay on center whatsoever. There really needs to be something ‘V’ shaped for the deeper aero posts of tri/tt bikes. I still haven’t found anything that fits both my Time Machine and either the Flare R, two Cygolites, Portland Design Works Danger Zone or Cateye Rapid I already own. The Light & Motion Vis 180 looks promising, but I don’t think I’ll be allowed out of the house to ride if I buy yet another taillight so soon. Nearly every company making their own style of mount really messes things up too. Planet Bike, Portland Design Works and a couple others were playing along so well when a bunch of people just had to stir the pot!

      • JCJordan

        The aero mount for the new Fly6 is useless. I have lost three of them in less than 4 weeks. No mater how tight you pull the new Velcro stap the unit will still move a bit when you hit some bumpy road and the aero mount just keeps bouncing out. Gave up and just pull it tight with one of the sticky back rubber bits.

  • 2wheelsandme

    Living in Semi/rural (yet a built up and fairly modern suburban community) Lancaster Pennsylvania, amongst Mennonite and Amish, many of whom are 100% Cycle commuters every day all yearlong, I am used to seeing the flashing lights while driving. As are all our other automobile drivers here “accidents” do happen but very rare. This experiment has been going on a long time here, I have been riding since 1984 and the Mennonites were the first group of Commuters I have experienced using lights.

  • jules

    great article James. a couple of points on DRL efficacy on automobiles. studies vary in their findings. the most beneficial results are based on studies of crashes in countries with low light conditions – e.g. northern Europe and Canada. this suggests that the major benefit of DRLs may not be improved conspicuity in daylight conditions, but in the low light of dawn/dusk when drivers are not operating their headlights.

    it’s perhaps different for cyclists, who are less visible even in the daytime. with no statistics to support me here, I suspect that DRLs for cyclists are most effective also in low or excess light conditions. examples are:
    – riding under tree canopies that block sun light (the Nongs in Melbourne)
    – dawn/dusk
    – dark cloud
    – riding into the sun

    the last one is interesting to me, as it was a common argument used by Australian motorcyclists to successfully have the requirement repealed for new motorcycles to be fitted with DRLs. but it’s bulls__t – a low sun will wash the contrast out and conceal a cyclist located between you and the sun. a light (tail or front) will restore that contrast and make you visible again.

  • Russ Hedger

    A very informative article. I have been using a Niterider Solas 150 as a daytime visible flash. It is certainly bright (150 lumens advertised) and good value for money but the flash modes leave something to be desired. It has a slow pulsing mode that doesn’t attract attention as well as a sharp flash, and the other flash mode isn’t fast enough.

    There is a fair amount of research on flash pattern visibility related to emergency vehicles and warning lights that could be used to improve rear lights. For example, the Broca-Sulzer effect is the phenomenon where short flashes appear brighter than a constant light of equal intensity. In the light-adapted eye, this is most pronounced at 60 – 70 ms, but is significantly longer in the dark-adapted eye. Flash frequencies over 1.5 Hz create a sense of urgency, and peak salience occurs between 4 – 8 Hz. However, flash rates much over 4 Hz can be disorientating due to photic driving of the brain as well as increasing the risk of triggering photo-sensitive epilepsy. In the UK, bike lights are prohibited from flashing faster than 4 Hz for this reason. Thus a 70 ms flash repeated at 3 – 4 Hz is very noticeable as well as having duty cycle of around 25 %, reducing power consumption. The eye has very poor sensitivity to red light, and using orange-red rather than deep-red LEDs doubles the effective brightness for the same power.

  • Dana Braun

    I don’t know what local laws stipulate, but I see a guy riding to work in the dark mornings with a blue front light. It’s very easy to pick him out of a completely dark background. He’s on a bike path beside the highway, while I am on the highway. Maybe because it’s a different color light than we’re used to seeing, but it may be restricted to emergency vehicles.

  • Richard Wharton

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/df88f9968a8942832c7a47843111aaee98a3ffc236513c56221a4b8bbbe64ade.jpg This, with a 400 lumen Dinotte, is my standard rear layout.

    Ironically, Left-Cross front hook motorist-cyclist crashes are FAR more likely, so up front, a decent flashing 250 lumen Serfas works fine.

    Oh – and taking the full lane helps a ton as well.

  • I’m a stickler for lights, and with 3 cyclists in the family we have tons of lights. BUT, a huge issue are the universally junky mounts, and the COMPLETE lack of mount standardization! For the love of god, PLEASE make your lights at least compatible with a GoPro mount out of the box! I’m so sick of rubber straps that break and that are almost never long enough to wrap around whatever bar/tube I want to mount the light to! The Bontrager lights and mounts are decent for example, but why is the strap so short?!? You have to stretch it like CRAZY to fit even a standard bar, forget a 35mm or over the bar tape (am I the only one with a crowded cockpit or who likes the tape to extend pretty far to the stem?!?)

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