Saturday, July 27, 2013

Daylights: Increasing Your Daytime Cycling Visibility

My Vespertine Vesp brightens these darker cycling pieces and can be used for walking and running.
Most of my cycling is done along the bucolic roads that wind past the horse farms and pastures of central New Jersey. There are times, however that I commute along busier highways where bike lanes and protected paths are virtually unknown. I do my best to make myself visible to traffic and since I mostly ride in the daytime hours, have gotten into the habit of wearing bright clothing (or my bright vest, the Vesp by Vespertine NYC) and using bright lights on my helmet and bicycle.

My Nishiki with Megalert Horn and 3W Headlight
Bicycle Headlights
The point is to remember to keep it bright during the daylight hours and especially on cloudy days. Lights that are bright enough to be seen in full sun are preferable as they can offer an extra layer of visibility in traffic. Different bicycles have different needs of course and the bicycle that I ride most for commuting is my Nishiki Sport Touring.

It's half road - half touring frame allows me to have a bit more speed and less weight than most commuters. I have enough space for an electronic horn, light and camera. My computer hitches a ride on my top bar. During the day I ride with a flashing 3W Rechargeable LED Headlight from Bright Ideas.
I have upgraded to another headlight Bright Ideas also carries which is even brighter, the 3,000
Cree 3,000 Lumen Headlight at night on my Nishiki
Lumen Cree LED.

Like the 3W I was using, it is rechargeable but lighter, brighter and more compact. I have moved the battery pack from the handlebars to the seat post which gives me better access to the brakes. The Cree 3K Lumen Bicycle Headlight has four modes: Low, Medium, High Beam and Strobe. It is insanely bright and now I'm not concerned about riding at night in the country where there are often no street lights.

While I'm talking about Bright Ideas LLC, this company is dedicated to providing bright lights and reflective wear for both pedestrians and cyclists at an affordable price. I've even given some of their blinkie lights away to neighbors.

Planet Bike's super powerful Blaze 2W Micro Headlight fits between my road bike's aero bars.
Planet Bike Blaze 2W Micro HeadLight
The bicycle that I ride most for sport is my Terry Symmetry road bike. With aero bars installed there is little room for much more than a thumb bell and a small headlight. I don't train at night so this light is specifically for daytime riding safety. The Blaze 2 Watt LED Micro is many times brighter than a standard LED. It has a high and low beam and a Superflash Mode I use during my ride. Very easy to mount with no tools needed and will run up to 64 hours on flashing. Batteries came with this light and it was ready to rock right out of the box with genuine Cree XRE Powered LEDs.
My Terry Symmetry Road Bicycle

Running headlights during the day either flashing or steady can help drivers be aware of your presence at intersections and when oncoming traffic turns into your lane. I've noticed drivers waiting and letting me go first when they are coming in the opposite direction at a cross street or light.

Bicycle Tail Lights - DiNotte Lighting's Daytime Red
Seriously, this is the business end of your bicycle. You might be able to avoid trouble with cars you can see approaching but what about those you can't? I do look over my left shoulder and even have a mirror mounted at the end of my drop bars but come on! I always ride with my red tail light flashing away but you never quite know what the driver sees (or doesn't) from behind.

Coach Russ, a California based athlete and running coach who was himself hit by a car while road training told me about DiNotte's Daytime Red. These lights are made in the USA and offer top quality LEDs and electronics. The light remembers your last setting so you don't have to cycle through each time to find your favorite mode. The only trade off is that since these lights run at such a high intensity, the charge doesn't last very long (even in the flashing mode). What's worse is there is no power indicator as is present on my 3W and 3K Lumen rechargeable headlights from Bright Ideas. You go to use the light and it's just drained with no heads up. Kind of a bummer since everything else about the Daytime Red is first rate.

DiNotte Daytime Red lashed onto the top of my DR2 Trunk Bag
I personally chose the Daytime Red because that's primarily when I ride. I left the other tail lights on my bag for night time use as the Daytime Red is much too bright. However for the purpose, it is amazing. As soon as took a spin with it, cars behind me began slowing down and then went around me when it was safe to pass. It was obvious that they SAW me and from quite a distance away. A car doing 40 mph needs more time to react in order to brake. If they can see you from further away, they are going to give themselves (and you) a better chance of avoiding collision. You can check all the technical details of the Daytime Red 400R at their link but this is the brightest tail light available and perfect for daytime rides where you need to be seen. I've just started using this light and can already see a HUGE difference in my daytime riding experience.

DiNotte Daytime Red in flash-mode in broad sunlight.

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