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Lights & Rider Illiumination for Positional Reference vs Single Headlight?

wolfsbane2kwolfsbane2k Posts: 3,014
edited February 2016 in Commuting chat
After an interesting long drive through the sticks last night, I came across a few cyclists and runners who were using either a single head light, or a single front light and a single tail light, however due to the nature of the "spot" I was completely unable to determine the distance to the person I was heading towards, so being a "friendly" driver I slowed down, however I couldn't determine exactly where they were until very close - too close, if I had remained at 60mph, which most of the vehicles that pass me do when I'm out in the sticks by myself.

This has unnerved me a lot - and made me realise that I'm a lot less positionable than I realise, despite typically cycling with 2 or 3 front lights ( Nanoshot+ for distance and Aldi "Comet" pointed down to illuminate potholes), and 2 rear (1 on rucksack + one on pannier, + 1 for Fog/weather depending) , + reflective bands etc.

I've seen a "Lightrider" light, which illuminates the cyclists chest, allowing the width between the arms to be determined, and therefore provide a "reference" to the likely distance to the person.
There appears to be an Australian attempt for the rear as well that's apparently died a death ( Firefly Bike Light) that would have allowed the same thing, not sure if this has been superseded with a fibre flare type thing.

Has anyone got any experience of using (or better yet riding/driving towards) these or equivalant lights?
Intent on Cycling Commuting on a budget, but keep on breaking/crashing/finding nice stuff to buy.
Bike 1 (Broken) - Bike 2(Borked) - Bike 3(broken spokes) - Bike 4( Needs Work) - Bike 5 (in bits) - Bike 6* ...

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  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    That sounds a bit scary. I can't say I've experienced it myself though? Maybe a reflective jacket might be the answer - you'd see the shape and size of the rider ?

    I do find cyclists with just a helmet light harder to judge. It's high up and not bar mounted like 99% of cyclists so it makes you think they are further up the road.
  • wolfsbane2kwolfsbane2k Posts: 3,014
    Fenix wrote:
    That sounds a bit scary. I can't say I've experienced it myself though? Maybe a reflective jacket might be the answer - you'd see the shape and size of the rider ?

    I do find cyclists with just a helmet light harder to judge. It's high up and not bar mounted like 99% of cyclists so it makes you think they are further up the road.

    I'm probably being paranoid, but better paranoid, but doing my best not to escalate the "light war"..

    Part of the problem is the curving & small undulations of the road, a few of them I didn't even know if they were on the road! I think I'm a bit more nervous/questioning after almost t-boning another cyclist some time ago who only had a head light on, and no other reflectives - so I couldn't work out where he was and assumed he was a lot further up the road as well.

    There are a number of areas on my route that are most "dark skies" territory, so if a lights not pointing directly at it, your unlikely to see it - so reflectives aren't always that good.
    Intent on Cycling Commuting on a budget, but keep on breaking/crashing/finding nice stuff to buy.
    Bike 1 (Broken) - Bike 2(Borked) - Bike 3(broken spokes) - Bike 4( Needs Work) - Bike 5 (in bits) - Bike 6* ...
  • Interesting question. Since I've upgraded to a Fenix BC30 ( as my front light I've noticed that I can be a 100m + from a junction and cars will wait for me to pass. I assume that this is because they cannot judge how far away I am and assume I am a moped or motorcycle. The Fenix reflects the upper part of the beam down onto the road in front you, which also has the benefit of not blinding drivers even though I'm using it the 1200 lumen setting - well I've never been flashed yet anyway.

    I've started using my old Hope 1 in flashing mode as well, and on the rear I have at least 2 lights, one flashing, one on constant. My theory is that the flashing mode gives a good indication you are cyclist to people are more likely slow down early. Don't have enough evidence yet to determine whether this effective or not.

    In the dark I always try to use roads which are unlikely to have the dark sky effect you refer to and wear plenty of reflective gear.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    pigeontoes wrote:
    and on the rear I have at least 2 lights, one flashing, one on constant.
    In the dark I always have at least 2 rear lights on too - usually both on flashing, but being different brands they flash differently - anyway, my theory is that if one goes caput then I've still got the other one for backup - and I don't need to notice it!

    Front light - as a driver I hate bright helmet/head lights - they bob about all over the place and it's very difficult to gauge what they are, how fast they're going and more importantly - WHERE they're going ... a steady front light is much easier.

    Easier still are car lights - because we're used to them - perhaps it's the horizontal separation of lights that make it easy...
  • wolfsbane2kwolfsbane2k Posts: 3,014
    Slowbike wrote:
    pigeontoes wrote:
    and on the rear I have at least 2 lights, one flashing, one on constant.
    In the dark I always have at least 2 rear lights on too - usually both on flashing, but being different brands they flash differently - anyway, my theory is that if one goes caput then I've still got the other one for backup - and I don't need to notice it!

    Front light - as a driver I hate bright helmet/head lights - they bob about all over the place and it's very difficult to gauge what they are, how fast they're going and more importantly - WHERE they're going ... a steady front light is much easier.

    Easier still are car lights - because we're used to them - perhaps it's the horizontal separation of lights that make it easy...

    Indeed.
    The car lights - we're used to them, we know that typically they are about 1.7 meters apart, therefore we can fairly quickly judge the distance (and possibly angle) due to perspective, and therefore determine speed due to the change in distance.
    Motorcycle lights - typically a largish 5" circle or 2 3" circles, again, due to size ( and the ability to hear the engine, correlating it to a motorcycle), we can determine a distance, and therefore speed.
    Without a second point of reference, we can't determine distance from a change in perspective - and since bike lights are normally so small, we're unable to determine the distance.

    So the 2 solutions above use something else to provide a second point of reference, and therefore enable speed&distance to be determined.
    Intent on Cycling Commuting on a budget, but keep on breaking/crashing/finding nice stuff to buy.
    Bike 1 (Broken) - Bike 2(Borked) - Bike 3(broken spokes) - Bike 4( Needs Work) - Bike 5 (in bits) - Bike 6* ...
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,532
    For the rear, you could get one of these: http://road.cc/content/review/138576-veglo-commuter-x4
  • prawnyprawny Posts: 5,415
    I remember reading something years ago about BMW GS motorbikes being in fewer accidents and the theory was that it was because it had three front lights in a triangular layout rather than the normal big single one. Makes sense to me, I always have two separate front lights on the go now, I head a yoof on the footpath say "I thought that was a fookin moped' yesterday on my way home so it's probably working.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
    Voodoo Bizango - 2014 - Dead - Hit by a car
    Vitus Sentier VRS - 2017
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