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Cycle light query/observation

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DrFfybes
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Cycle light query/observation

#102442

Postby DrFfybes » December 7th, 2017, 1:00 pm

Recently I've noticed a lot of cycle lights are brighter than those on the car behind, presumably due the improvement in LED technology. In fact, quite often they are dazzling, something I've put down to bad alignment and driving a low car.

However the other night I was walking along the unlit canal, and was still dazzled by oncoming cycles. It occurred to me that the new bright lights are effectively very bright torches, and unlike similar output lights fitted to vehicles presumably there are no beam patterns or cut offs.

I haven't seen anything, but can you get cycle lights with vehicle use patterns?

Paul

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102666

Postby didds » December 8th, 2017, 8:58 am

Not that I know of Paul.

I suppose the limitations on where cycle lights can get affixed to a bike limits any such effectiveness. If mounted on handkebars (usual place) they are also subject to the contant small turns as the bike is steered etc so the beam wobbles. I always tried to aim my beam down and to the left to avoid any dazzling. I have no idea whether my efforts actually worked in reality though!

didds

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102699

Postby UncleEbenezer » December 8th, 2017, 10:23 am

didds wrote:I always tried to aim my beam down and to the left to avoid any dazzling. I have no idea whether my efforts actually worked in reality though!

didds

I too aim it slightly downwards. It's most useful that way for illuminating the road, given that I won't be going fast in conditions where the ambient light (either natural or street lighting) is insufficient to see clearly. Though these days I rarely ride in true darkness.

I suspect those really bright lights are supposed to enable you to go fast in real darkness, like car headlights.

You can see where the beam goes, and that's a pretty good indicator of where it's going to dazzle. You can get a comparison there from other users of lights, like walkers with torches that dazzle when aimed right at you but otherwise no more than mildly annoying.

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102805

Postby colin » December 8th, 2017, 5:19 pm

I think it's a good point, but as mentioned if the beam from a cycle lamp is dazzling drivers eyes then the light is not much use to the cyclist as we need to see the ground a few meters ahead of the front wheel, that's where the obstacles will be which we need to avoid.

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102865

Postby didds » December 8th, 2017, 11:37 pm

... there could be two lights... one down and the other up for ditsance illumaination...

didds

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102872

Postby moorfield » December 9th, 2017, 12:17 am

UncleEbenezer wrote:I too aim it slightly downwards. It's most useful that way for illuminating the road, given that I won't be going fast in conditions where the ambient light (either natural or street lighting) is insufficient to see clearly.


I with you on that - certainly more useful to see the road down in front of me. I tend not to worry about approaching cars - they should spot my hi viz in their beams anyway - but rather those behind. I appreciate a rear red LED flasher can sometimes dazzle/irritate drivers behind me - but it gets me noticed ...

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102880

Postby redsturgeon » December 9th, 2017, 7:23 am

I have to agree that some of the very powerful lights used by cyclists can be counter productive, this week I was waiting to make a right turn in my car and could see a very bright light coming toward me in the distance, it was dazzling me in a way that most car headlights would not. In fact it almost obscured the much closer cyclist whose front light was not nearly so powerful. My first thought was that it was one cyclist with two lights and only a very careful look could make out the cyclist in front with the less powerful light. More powerful is not always better for standard road use.

John

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102916

Postby colin » December 9th, 2017, 11:38 am

there could be two lights... one down and the other up for ditsance illumaination...

personally I cannot cycle fast enough on the flat to need to be able to see minor obstructions more than a few meters in front of me, and while i can hit 40mph plus on long steep hills ,in the dark I don't want to.
I think the more powerful lights were designed for mountain bikes being used off road, they certainly should be directed toward the ground when used in traffic.
A problem I had when returning from working late shifts on a narrow rural single track road was drivers not dipping their headlights as they approached me, knowing that there was likely a water filled ditch on my left the only option was to stop in dead in the road until the driver realized that I could see nothing but their blinding lights.

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102924

Postby Ashfordian » December 9th, 2017, 12:14 pm

redsturgeon wrote:I have to agree that some of the very powerful lights used by cyclists can be counter productive, this week I was waiting to make a right turn in my car and could see a very bright light coming toward me in the distance, it was dazzling me in a way that most car headlights would not. In fact it almost obscured the much closer cyclist whose front light was not nearly so powerful. My first thought was that it was one cyclist with two lights and only a very careful look could make out the cyclist in front with the less powerful light. More powerful is not always better for standard road use.

John


There are two linked reasons why bike lights are getting brighter leaving aside the technological advances of LEDs.

First, it's the SMIDSY by drivers so cyclists are taking actions to protect themselves, and this is contributing to an 'arms race' by light manufacturers to create brighter as brighter lights that allow you to be more visible.

However, while your above scenario may not be a perfect solution, the cyclist with the bright light has made you hesitate, and has made you think about what is ahead of you. This has therefore increased his safety. It is why I never ride with a flashing rear light. That automatically says to a driver it is a cyclist ahead whereas if they just see a red rear light (I ride with 2 or 3 on rural roads), it makes a driver think what is that?

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#102929

Postby redsturgeon » December 9th, 2017, 12:30 pm

Ashfordian wrote:
redsturgeon wrote:I have to agree that some of the very powerful lights used by cyclists can be counter productive, this week I was waiting to make a right turn in my car and could see a very bright light coming toward me in the distance, it was dazzling me in a way that most car headlights would not. In fact it almost obscured the much closer cyclist whose front light was not nearly so powerful. My first thought was that it was one cyclist with two lights and only a very careful look could make out the cyclist in front with the less powerful light. More powerful is not always better for standard road use.

John


There are two linked reasons why bike lights are getting brighter leaving aside the technological advances of LEDs.

First, it's the SMIDSY by drivers so cyclists are taking actions to protect themselves, and this is contributing to an 'arms race' by light manufacturers to create brighter as brighter lights that allow you to be more visible.

However, while your above scenario may not be a perfect solution, the cyclist with the bright light has made you hesitate, and has made you think about what is ahead of you. This has therefore increased his safety. It is why I never ride with a flashing rear light. That automatically says to a driver it is a cyclist ahead whereas if they just see a red rear light (I ride with 2 or 3 on rural roads), it makes a driver think what is that?


I agree with most of what you have written and as someone who has a son who is riding on the road in the dark every day I have skin in the game of trying to keep him safe. However my issue in the particular instance was that the very bright light made life potentially more dangerous for the cyclist with the less bright light. i have little doubt that I would have picked up the cyclist with the less bright light more quickly if the brighter light had not been behind and shining straight at me.

A car behind with dipped beams would have illuminated the bike better for me than the narrow beam focussed too far ahead.

My son has a zoomable front light that he uses on wide beam to light a wide patch of the road ahead.

The reason I hesitated to work out what I was seeing was perhaps my level of familiarity with cycling, something that perhaps 80% of car drivers would not have.

John

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#103276

Postby 9873210 » December 10th, 2017, 10:26 pm

colin wrote:personally I cannot cycle fast enough on the flat to need to be able to see minor obstructions more than a few meters in front of me, and while i can hit 40mph plus on long steep hills ,in the dark I don't want to.

Many, if not most, cyclist can easily reach 15 mph on flat ground. This is about 6.7 m/s. Being able to see three seconds ahead requires lighting the road at least 20m ahead, which is requires a reasonably bright light, more so if it's in an urban area with spotty illumination from other lights.

Granted there are many badly designed lights out there, but the lights that can't throw a 20m beam are also badly designed.

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#103358

Postby Pheidippides » December 11th, 2017, 1:06 pm

Ashfordian wrote:
However, while your above scenario may not be a perfect solution, the cyclist with the bright light has made you hesitate, and has made you think about what is ahead of you. This has therefore increased his safety. It is why I never ride with a flashing rear light. That automatically says to a driver it is a cyclist ahead whereas if they just see a red rear light (I ride with 2 or 3 on rural roads), it makes a driver think what is that?



That is very interesting:

However, while your above scenario may not be a perfect solution, the cyclist with the bright light has made you hesitate, and has made you think about what is ahead of you. This has therefore increased his safety.


I absolutely agree with you - I want motorists to be hesitant and uncertain

It is why I never ride with a flashing rear light. That automatically says to a driver it is a cyclist ahead whereas if they just see a red rear light (I ride with 2 or 3 on rural roads), it makes a driver think what is that

I take the point, but I completely disagree with you. In my opinion flashing lights make it more difficult for the driver to ascertain exactly where a bike is which adds to the uncertainty - hence making it safer

Regards

Pheid

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Re: Cycle light query/observation

#118392

Postby JessUK98 » February 15th, 2018, 2:48 pm

I haven't ridden my bike for a long time, but when I did I used to have 1/2 watt rear lights. One I'd set to flashing, and one would be on normally.
With regard to front lights, I think mine are 700 lumen twin lights and super bright (https://ayup-lights.com/). When cycling I angle one towards the floor and another straight ahead. I got a kit with my lights so that I can use them as a head torch which is what I do now for dog walking. Absolutely brilliant on rural roads, but I do have to sometimes look away from the road as you get the odd car thinking that they are another cars headlights and stop in passing places way off in the distance.
I think torches in general are just getting brighter. I had some other dog walker blind me last week by flashing his torch in my eyes as we were walking towards each other. I didn't have my light on, but the dog had her flashing collar so I guess he was trying to see what we were, ruined my night vision that did.


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