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Taking being seen too far - some lights are too bright!

DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
edited November 2009 in Commuting chat
This "I need to be seen" culture, in some cases, is going a little too far.

I'm going to put this out there.

Driving (in a motorised vehicle) around London or any traffic busy built up city (not a rural road) with full beams on is arguably as danagerous as driving around without any lights on.

If you need to ask why and live in a city then cut your driving licence up. You don't need full beams in a place where the night sky is most likely to carry a hue of orange generated from all the amibent light surrounding you.

So equally, there are bicycle lights that are too bright and equally as dangerous. Point in case, riding along Kings Way a cyclist comes up behind me with a light that has a beam and flash happening at th same time, four of them. So bright was it, that the coloured road signs it was reflecting off were no longer coloured and therefore hard to see or read. This I felt was dangerous because bright white light can both illuminate and obscure objects from the eye, if reflecting off the object directly into the eye.

However, this was nothing compared to the same kind of light being flashed towards me from the other side of the road when driving my car. I could see nothing.

There is no point or additional safety gained in a bright bicycle light if it blinds other road users.

I think cyclist should take as much responsibility in assuring that they are not a danger to others. By putting in as much effort as they do assuing that others aren't a danger to them.

Basically using the roads safely is about consideration.
Food Chain number = 4

A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
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  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    I've had comments from cars in the past that my lights are too bright/dangerous. I don't think it's the brightness that is neccesarily the problem, but how the lights are adjusted. I now make a conscious effort to ensure that my lights hit the ground about 6 feet in front of me, and shine slightly to the kerb when within a town. After all a car's headlights have to be adjusted correctly so they don't blind oncoming traffic, and bike users should take the same precautions. As for flashing lights, I do think over bright strobe affect lights can be a problem, but when adjusted properly should be ok.

    In the end I'd rather be seen, and having just spent a few days riding with a censored Cateye front light would rather have a light that's a bit to bright than none at all.
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

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  • Wallace1492Wallace1492 Posts: 3,707
    I think that using light designed for "seeing" rather than "being seen" is definate overkill on lit up roads. It is as DDD states, the equivalent of full beams.

    Yes be seen, have a couple of lights front and rear, get spoke lights, reflective stuff, high viz. But don't have blinding front lights.....
    "Encyclopaedia is a fetish for very small bicycles"
  • cambscambs Posts: 235
    You said it.
    I was going to post a rant on the same subject.

    Nearly off the road and into some trees the other week when coming down Broomfield Hill in Richmond Park - a fast S-bend, wet with leaves.
    Was taking it carefully due to the near-invisible deer and the greasy conditions when i got caught in the laser beam of two off-roaders on the trail to the left. Lost virtualy all vision, could just about make out my front wheel crossing the white line on the left hand side (and it drops away sharply after that).

    Please dip your lights when there is anyone approaching if you insist on having 1000 lumens of brightness on your ride!
  • Soul BoySoul Boy Posts: 359
    Had this problem on occasion when I used to commute along the Grand Union canal.

    Fine that the person can see all in front of them, its the poor censored coming the other way thats blinded for a good while!

    But then this is a London commute and as long as they're ok..... :roll:
  • ceecee Posts: 4,553
    it is also pretty bad when someone with an uber-licht is riding behind you...their light totally outpowers yours so all you can see is your own shadow.....
    Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I believe in the future of the human race.

    H.G. Wells.
  • Matt.KMatt.K Posts: 105
    I do worry a bit about doing this myself.
    Using my Hope Vision 1 I put it on the lowest setting and dipped down when riding through streetlighted areas, then when out in to the pitch black of country lanes I ramp it up to power level 3 of 4 and point it straight ahead, then when a car comes towards me I dip it back towards the floor until they've passed.

    Unless they refuse to dip their lights then it goes back up again along with my middle finger which will be nicely illuminated by their full beams as the go past!
  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    The most powerful lights commonly available on a bike are things like the magicshine which is a P7 quad LED and is rated at 900 lumens when on "turbo" full power setting. There are things brighter than this of course but I doubt you'd have 4 of them following you

    Normal car headlamps on full beam are 1500 lumens. Each. Cars with "good" headlights could have 3000llms

    So anything on a bike isn't as bright as car headlamps on full beam

    So it isn't as blinding which seems to be a parallel that your OP suggests

    In your example of several people behind you with flashing lights reflecting off road signs I'd say they were wrongly angled. The problem isn't the lights as such it's the users
  • ceecee Posts: 4,553
    vorsprung

    although most drivers do tend to dip their head lights when triffic is oncoming....

    i do not know that the same is true for bike lights...
    Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I believe in the future of the human race.

    H.G. Wells.
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    vorsprung wrote:
    The most powerful lights commonly available on a bike are things like the magicshine which is a P7 quad LED and is rated at 900 lumens when on "turbo" full power setting. There are things brighter than this of course but I doubt you'd have 4 of them following you

    Normal car headlamps on full beam are 1500 lumens. Each. Cars with "good" headlights could have 3000llms

    So anything on a bike isn't as bright as car headlamps on full beam

    So it isn't as blinding which seems to be a parallel that your OP suggests

    In your example of several people behind you with flashing lights reflecting off road signs I'd say they were wrongly angled. The problem isn't the lights as such it's the users

    Bright bike lights pointed at your eyes are way brighter than car headlights pointed at the ground. It's becoming commoner and commoner to be blinded in the middle of sodding London because some smug git thinks they're in the middle of a pitch black forest or something. Is an ultra-bright light yet another penis substitute? (answer: yes)

    POINT YOUR LIGHTS DOWN OR TURN THEM TO A LOWER SETTING when riding in a built up area, please.
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    Also, as I said before, if you have a bright non-dipped bike light, don't think for a moment that anyone approaching you will be able to see you indicate or anything because you'll be completely invisible behind your blinding beam.

  • So anything on a bike isn't as bright as car headlamps on full beam

    So it isn't as blinding which seems to be a parallel that your OP suggests

    In your example of several people behind you with flashing lights reflecting off road signs I'd say they were wrongly angled. The problem isn't the lights as such it's the users


    +1. Particularly this fashion for flashing lights.


    ... to be blinded in the middle of sodding London because some smug git thinks they're in the middle of a pitch black forest or something. Is an ultra-bright light yet another penis substitute? (answer: yes)

    either that, or they think they're cycling in the middle of a very busy city and want to be sure they are seen by cars...? a bright light helps you to stand out from all the other lights around.

    Is running the equivalent of a single anaemic firefly (flashing mode, and quite possibly green rather than white) the admission that you may actually be better off dead?
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    A single bright light, especially when it's so bright that you can't see the user behind it, doesn't look like a bike and will not be treated as same by other road users who would, in most cases, be much better off knowing with what form of traffic they're dealing with!

    Are you the kind of person who simply must have an SUV because you'll be safer inside it, not thinking for a second how it might impact (word chosen deliberately) on other unfortunate road users?
  • A single bright light, especially when it's so bright that you can't see the user behind it, doesn't look like a bike and will not be treated as same by other road users who would, in most cases, be much better off knowing with what form of traffic they're dealing with!

    so they'd give it more room, on the off-chance that it might be a truck, for instance? Or will they just drive straight at it as they're not sure what it is?
    Bizarre argument, that one...

    Are you the kind of person who simply must have an SUV because you'll be safer inside it, not thinking for a second how it might impact (word chosen deliberately) on other unfortunate road users?
    is that aimed at me? If so, no, I don't have a car. And I choose my lights for riding because I don't want some poor sod on their way to work, doing nothing wrong whatsoever, to drive into me because I decided to use a single feeble flashing LED. That's thinking of others, that is. Same as not going through red lights etc.
  • biondino wrote:
    ... other road users who would, in most cases, be much better off knowing with what form of traffic they're dealing with!

    I don't think this is true. Since fitting a couple of LD20s I've found cars waiting patiently at junctions 20yds ahead of me, and pretty well all oncoming cars now dip their headlights, because IMO I'm now perhaps perceived to be a motorcycle.

    I do agree though that it's imperative on us to make sure the light are adjusted properly. LEDs can be particularly dazzling.

    Ecto.

    Only a Pawn in their Game...
  • sampras38sampras38 Posts: 1,917
    Some definately do go over the top and I've seen some riders that aren't dis-similar to that guy in The Running Man. What was his name...Dynamo?
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,152
    On the other hand some lights are not bright enough - has anyone seen those stupid green flashy ones? I think they're from one of the supermarkets. I've seen (I say seen, more like barely noticed) a few cyclists around my neck of the woods using them (usually POB's) and they are utterly useless.
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  • will3will3 Posts: 2,173
    On the other hand some lights are not bright enough - has anyone seen those stupid green flashy ones? I think they're from one of the supermarkets. I've seen (I say seen, more like barely noticed) a few cyclists around my neck of the woods using them (usually POB's) and they are utterly useless.

    Yup, suprised they're allowed to be sold really
  • KiblamsKiblams Posts: 2,423
    I had this when driving down a country lane (coming back froma bike ride) where we were pulling up to a T-junction, there was a blinding light which we assumed had to be a motorbike, but it was moving much too slowely to be a motorbike, after about 5 second of waiting for what I could only assume at this point was a 'thing' to pass we could see a road bike behind the wall of blinding light.

    If we had known it was a pedal bike we could have pulled accross the road and been on our way much sooner and prevented the building traffic behind us. It was an absolutely rediculous amount of light and seemed to be pointing straight forward and cant imagine it did much for the riders view of the road surface...
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    That "traffic building up" line nearly had me in tears, that's simply awful!
  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    I think we are all agreed that

    1) Having a magicshine on full power and flashing and angled to shine into the faces of motorists is inappropriate and sometimes dangerous

    2) Using a tiny "visiblity" light is rarely effective, something with "reasonable" power is needed. Again, this can be dangerous

    3) If you aren't in a town and are riding on dark roads then a different light setting could be appropriate. Hitting a pole hole you can't see in the dark could be a nuisance

    On my bike I am using a B&M IQ Fly. This is approx 300 lumens and has a good beam pattern for road riding. It is mounted very low on the forks and is angled to show up potholes on the road. The beam pattern is designed for German road traffic regulations for bike lights. Cars can obviously see me coming because they usually dip. And I am not blinding anyone. Out of town in the dark I can see everything and ride fine at up to 20mph in the wet. In town there is no question of blinding anyone as the light is down low and angled at the road.

    There is no need to "dip" the light even if I could. If you have a bike light and feel the need to dip it when cars pass then perhaps it has a bad beam pattern or is incorrectly angled.

    There is a "reasonable" light that is somewhere inbetween "too bright agggh my eyes" and a glowworm. Almost anything better than one of these
    cateye-hl-ld150-5-led-front-light.jpg
    Should be ok. So any light with a proper lense that has a beam. As for "what is too bright" just don't run it on turbo mode if it is angled up and if it has a "turbo" mode
  • Kiblams wrote:
    ...after about 5 second of waiting ... If we had known it was a pedal bike we could have pulled accross [sic] the road...

    Are you serious? You'd have pulled out if you'd known it was a bike to 'save' yourself 5s?

    Ecto.

    Only a Pawn in their Game...
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    I think the point Kiblams is making is that he mistook the cyclist for a motorcycle. In my view and experience this is in itself dangerous.

    In my view people have this attitude that they need to be seen by any means necessary. I believe that its safer being noticed as opposed to merely being seen. I'd rather be noticed (by use of reflectives, hi-viz and appropriate lights) by the motorist as a cyclist and treated as such on the road. Than be seen and mistook as a Moped or motorcycle and treated as such.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    edited November 2009
    vorsprung wrote:
    The most powerful lights commonly available on a bike are things like the magicshine which is a P7 quad LED and is rated at 900 lumens when on "turbo" full power setting. There are things brighter than this of course but I doubt you'd have 4 of them following you

    Normal car headlamps on full beam are 1500 lumens. Each. Cars with "good" headlights could have 3000llms

    So anything on a bike isn't as bright as car headlamps on full beam

    So it isn't as blinding which seems to be a parallel that your OP suggests

    In your example of several people behind you with flashing lights reflecting off road signs I'd say they were wrongly angled. The problem isn't the lights as such it's the users

    You do realised that it's entirely possible for both lights the cars and the bikes (arguably compounded upon by angle) to be too bright, despite the number of lumens.

    Edit: - The example I made wasn't saying that full beam on vehicles are too bright therefore hi-powered bike lights are the same. I was just using the logic and rationale of not using full beams in the city to explain why hi-powered bike lights may also be unecessary.

    I would go as far as to say that those proper white lights even set to normal and not beam - them xenon ones you get on new cars - are too bright and this isn't even considering that you can angle them upwards (as with my car) which makes them proper blinding.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • KiblamsKiblams Posts: 2,423
    edited November 2009
    Ectomorph wrote:
    Are you serious? You'd have pulled out if you'd known it was a bike to 'save' yourself 5s?

    I was being conservative with the guess of 5 seconds, it could have been alot more, was a long time ago, I just remember thinking "that lighttaking ages to get closer! but I best not make a move as I can't tell how fast the light is going" the point is that I would have struggled to see a cars headlights behind that cyclists lights blinding me and this is what I consider to be dangerous.

    I honestly thought it was a motorbike going about 10-15mph on a national speed limit road :lol:
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    I think the point Kiblams is making is that he mistook the cyclist for a motorcycle. In my view and experience this is in itself dangerous.

    In my view people have this attitude that they need to be seen by any means necessary. I believe that its safer being noticed as opposed to merely being seen. I'd rather be noticed (by use of reflectives, hi-viz and appropriate lights) by the motorist as a cyclist and treated as such on the road. Than be seen and mistook as a Moped or motorcycle and treated as such.

    Neither Hi-Viz nor reflectives are of any use at all when viewed in the above situation - they need the car lights to be shining on them to be seen. In this situation the bike light is the riders only source of visibility. Who knows, with the impatient nutters that can't wait a few seconds, a dimmer light may have meant "far off motorcycle" to them and they may have driven out into the cyclist!

    (I actually made such a mistake some ** (many) years ago - before I saw the light/grew up :oops: ).

    I am sick of the attitude that to delay or slow a driver for a second or two is the worst crime on the road!
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Seems a bit of a petty complaint there. God knows how long I've lost in my cycling career waiting at junctions for a car to go past - only for it to turn down a road without indicating.

    So you had to wait a few seconds at a junction - thats never a bad idea is it - how quickly can you take in all the traffic around you - if you dont stop you could easily miss a badly lit cyclist, or even a faster moving motorbike ?
  • DonDaddyD wrote:
    I'd rather be noticed ... by the motorist as a cyclist and treated as such on the road

    ie. with the customary contempt. In the food chain of the road we are right at the bottom. If I can disguise myself as a motorcycle then this is surely a Good Thing.

    Ecto.

    Only a Pawn in their Game...
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Ectomorph wrote:
    DonDaddyD wrote:
    I'd rather be noticed ... by the motorist as a cyclist and treated as such on the road

    ie. with the customary contempt. In the food chain of the road we are right at the bottom. If I can disguise myself as a motorcycle then this is surely a Good Thing.

    Ecto.

    I think I favour this view, after all, to be "treated like a cyclist" is to be "treated like censored "!
  • KiblamsKiblams Posts: 2,423
    The wait at the junction was one small part of the situation! my god, you people are like a dog with a bone!

    The fact that you can be mistaken for a motorbike is only a side effect, the fact that nothing can be seen behind said cyclist is what is dangerous!
  • jedsterjedster Posts: 1,717
    I think vorsprung sums it up pretty well.

    I also agree that the real issue is not brightness but alignment - even low powered lights aimed directly at eyes can be quite dazzling.

    I use the same main (seeing) front light as vorsprung. I tend to supplement it with a very small flasher on my bars. It's a knog that runs off a couple of watch batteries. I was pointing the knog straight ahead on the basis that it was too feeble to dazzle but was finding that this was annoying some motorists (on dark country roads, some drivers would give me some full beam flashes to make the point). I now dip it slightly.

    Incidently, cars travelling at 60mph on unlit roads really benefit from undipped lights - they close on bends pretty quick so the extra distance of view is useful. Cycling at 20-30 mph doesn't present the same need to see far ahead so a dipped beam is fine.

    J
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