Saturday, December 22, 2007


It's been nearly a year since my last post on cycling. In fact, I was still struggling with my old blog. That time, I spoke of foul weather gear, because it was raining. So, as we approach the very darkest day of the year, I'm going to talk about lights.

Riding in the dark without lights is far more likely to get you killed than riding in the rain without fenders and foul weather gear. The vast majority of motorists have every desire to avoid a car-bike collision, but to do so, they have to see the cyclist coming. And in the dark, that absolutely requires the cyclist have lights -- especially a headlight.

I rarely, if ever, worried about the drivers overtaking me. I have reflexite straps for my ankles, and a Helmet Halo, not to mention the reflectors on my pedals. These work well to make me visible, but only to drivers whose headlights are pointed at me. In my many years of experience cycle-commuting, I learned that the drivers who most often don't see me -- day or night -- are those who are going across my path. It is for them that a headlight is absolutely required.

It doesn't take a whole lot of headlight to make yourself visible; a krypton bulb powered by two 'C' cells, or white LEDs are enough. Street lighting was enough for me to see, but I absolutely depended on my headlight to make myself seen.

A note about lights and visibility: the higher the light is mounted, the further away you can be seen, and the further away you seem to be. A motorist would think me further away if he only saw my (helmet-mounted) taillight, than if he saw my pedal reflectors.

If you don't have a local bike shop that can provide you with lighting, you can order from Bike Nashbar or Performance Bike.

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