Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Can you see the bike in this picture?  I barely could, and I was looking for him- imagine if I were a car glancing that way before pulling out into the intersection. Please people, buy a crappy little light if nothing else.  It's less than a pizza at most EMS/ REI type stores.  Even if you don't care about being visible to cars, or your own safety, please do it for the individuals who don't happen to have blinding lights with them (i.e. pedestrians and most bikers).  I had a ninja salmon (riding against traffic) come right at me the other night- scared the bejeezus out of me when he suddenly appeared in my headlight, coming right at me.

Although I understand the appeal blinking lights - they're eye catching- be aware that they make it harder to gauge your oncoming speed because they're not constant.  I use one in really inclement weather to supplement my regular light, but I understand why they don't count as a legal light in most of Europe.
There's also some data to suggest that drunks are actually attracted to blinking lights, so I'm just as happy to avoid that possibility.

Although LED lights have been a huge improvement over the old battery chomping glorified flashlights that used to pass for bike lights, I'm a HUGE fan of dynamo lighting.  I've managed to accumulate quite a collection.   Robert has a built in bracket for a rim dynamo,  which I used in Italy, and which works great and is not much more than a cheapo LED.  However, I upgraded to a hub-dynamo, and it's so low-resistance that I run it all the time.  I don't even notice it's on, and hopefully, like daytime running lights on a car, it makes me just a little bit more visible.


  1. Well said! I'm always worried about cyclists at night without head lights (which is illegal in Chicago). They also create safety issues for me, as I can't see if they're coming up behind or toward me on the bike path.

  2. Great visual for this post!
    I have never had much luck with dynamo lights, too much drag for too little light. Interested to know what brand of hub dynamo you are using and where you bought it.

    BTW Liking your blog thus far - keep it up.

  3. Thanks Man, Dottie.
    Lights are legally required here too, but I haven't seen any enforcement. I understand in Portland they had some deal where they were passing out warnings and free little lights courtesy of Bike Planet- I'll have to see if something like that could be organized here. The combination of lots of students arriving just as it gets dark earlier has led to an explosion of ninjas.
    I have a Shimano hub generator, which works very well for me.
    I suppose that when your bike weighs 45lbs like mine does you're not that fussy about a little extra drag, but really it seems so negligible that I don't notice any difference when I turn it off. It's just SO nice not to ever run out of batteries or forget the light. I'm saving my pennies to get myself a Edeluxe dynamo powered LED for my birthday- they are visible blocks away during the day.

  4. Don't get me started. I see this so often in the Boston area, especially in Somerville. Too cool for lights? Can't afford a $19.99 handlebar clip-on? Or what? Grr.