Thank you to all who attended the Lights and Reflectors Extravaganza — an illuminating experience to say the least! We saw everything from single front and rear lights, to full-on banks of multi-level front lights, various rear light blinkies, interesting reflective tape configurations and construction safety vests — all serving to identify us as humans on bikes — or alien ships to steer clear of.
The evening gathering began with a show and tell, general discussion of lighting protocol and a drawing for the cool schwag donated by our local shops — Hub and Bespoke (Pick up the fishnet vest in the photo above), Free Range Cycles, Bob’s Bike and Board, Montlake Bike Shop and Recycled Cycles. Thanks to all of your generous donations, everyone took home a prize.
After the drawing, we rolled out to the dark side of the park looking a lot like the Electric Light Parade in Disneyland. We set up two cars with the headlights on and rode one by one in front of the beams to see what we look like to drivers. Later we turned them off to see what we looked like in the dark.
We learned that tiny lights disappeared from the driver’s view only a few feet out and that it is difficult toe tell if a lone front light is in motion. Certain jackets and piping showed up well, while others didn’t.
The law requires a white front light that can be seen from 500 ft and that bicycles have a red rear reflector at a minimum. We recommend adding red blinky lights to the back and using several lights at various height levels– the back of your helmet, your backpack and a couple on the rack, seatpost or seat stays.
It was noted that lights on the seatpost may disappear when a rider is seated, due to an obscuring coat or bag, so make sure that your light is not inadvertently covered. Ditto for the white front lights — top of helmet, on your person and handlebars at a minimum, and please — no flash mode on the trail as it is extremely disorienting to oncoming riders. (Sidenote: Bright is good for the pitch black where there aren’t many people, but uber powerful lights in congested areas like the trail, need to be aimed slightly down in order to show the way and not seer anyone’s eyeballs.)
And don’t forget the side lights. In the picture above, the wheels are adorned with reflective tape on the spokes and Spokees on the rims. Moving light, such as Tireflys that screw on to a valve stem, Monkey Lights, reflective tape in the wheels, or reflection on feet, signaling arms and hands, and pedals, all help to identify a bike in motion and that’s a good thing.
We also saw a demo of a brilliant new product called “LED by Light” — strips of white LEDs for front forks, red for rear seat stays and — wait for it – DIRECTIONAL TURN INDICATORS! It was like riding in your own little pool of light. Very cool!
As usual, we had some extreme lighting folks out with their various setups. Rob Brown and Bob Edmiston were tied for lightest and brightest — Rob with his big bank of front lights can be seen from well beyond 500 feet and Bob with his over the top canopy, reflective arrows and construction vest — wow! (BTW — he’s the alien spaceship, second from the right in the pic below.) A big thanks to Michael and Kathy Snyder who provided the vehicle headlights. Thanks to all for coming out — we’ll be seeing you and so will everyone else!