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Friday, June 18, 2010

Night rider

While there are some issues surrounding cycling safety that are clearly up for debate, nighttime visibility is really an uncontroversial Good.  For those whose personal preferences tend toward the subtler end of the spectrum, then, this can seem like an area where practicality must trump style.  Fluorescent triangle vests for everyone!!

But it needn't be so.  Recall the lovely Cordelia:
in daylight
One of the things that attracted me to the KHS Green in the first place was that its look was so basic, so unassuming, it was as if it were trying to look like a silhouette of a bicycle.  Cool.  The bad thing about silhouettes though?  Hard to see in the dark.  So:
with flash
Here Cordelia is sporting a Bright Bikes kit in "Black Caterpillar."  As you can see, what is essentially invisible in daylight becomes quite noticeable under direct light, adding a layer of safety that doesn't scream, "yooooooooo! check out all my neon fluorescent reflective decals!"   The $18 kits come in a variety of colors and are super easy to apply in almost any kind of configuration you would like, so you can be as subtle or unsubtle as you please.  I immediately felt more confident about riding my bike at night after I got her taped up good and intend to give Frida a similar treatment in the near future.  I highly recommend checking them out

18 comments:

portlandize.com said...

Or you could be like the Dutch and just paint your bike all kinds of crazy colors. See following for lots of good examples :)

http://cyclingwithoutahelmet.blogspot.com/search/label/bicycles

roseread said...

That's neat. I checked the color options for Bright Bikes, and, unfortunately, they don't offer mid-70s bronze ans an option.

margonaute said...

The thought of doing something like that to Frida-- heart palpitations, seriously. Not that I don't love the anti-theft potentials, but... I just couldn't.

margonaute said...

roseread: You should alert them to the oversight! They also don't have 1960s Raleigh green...

Herzog said...

Although, I must admit... those stripes do like kinda cool. :)

Herzog said...

Okay, I'm gonna criticize you! (For the first time.)

IMHO, if you want to increase visibility, the best way to do that is to do it like Velouria and MDI: supplement a rear dynamo light with two battery lights and add two battery lights to the front.

I think big (area-wise) and steady lights are most noticeable to drivers, because that's what they are scanning for in the first place. That's why I'm very skeptical about blinkies and reflective strips.

margonaute said...

Oh no, I agree; I would never do reflective strips on their own. (And that's actually Cordelia in a light-lite state, just before I sold her. Before that, she had an extra rear light + a to-see light up front.) The reflective stuff just makes me feel that much more visible, especially (hopefully) from the side.

cycler said...

What a cool product!
The problem with most head and tail lights is that they're not terribly visible from the side, and even then they're just a spot of light floating along. I'm a big fan of things that create the immediately recognizable silhouette of a bike, which this creates. I personally do this with reflex type tires. I know that some people don't like the aesthetics of that, but for me, nothing communicates "BIKE" faster to a motorist's brainstem than two lit up wheels. I also supplement lighting with light up pedals, which have side strobes. Those pedals are not very pretty either, but I get a lot of comments on them, so I think they're pretty noticeable.

margonaute said...

I saw a guy on Beacon Street the other day with those colored, kaleidescope-y strobe lights that make different patterns as the spokes spin around. Not at all subtle, but pretty darn cool and definitely eye-catching.

Velouria said...

Oh, that is so wonderful and hilarious!
I now wish I had a "basic" bike so that I could do that to it!

Hmm maybe I need another bike, to caterpillarise?

margonaute said...

Velouria: I don't mean to encourage that! Caterpillarizing can also be done much more elegantly and carefully than I did on Cordelia-- a racing stripe here, a dashed fender there. Maybe something sporty for the Sam H.? There is some part of me that would like a bike to just go nuts on, either with brighter tape or spray paint, Dutch style...

somervillain said...

the problem (or not, for some) with caterpillarizing your bike with this product is that the strips will begin to grow into wings as the bike metamorphoses into a butterfly bike. you will experience high wind drag once this happens. on the other hand, you can just fly above traffic altogether and not worry about being seen by drivers.

somervillain said...

i'm with cycler on this-- i like the reflective strip on tires as a general supplement to lights. they're subtle enough, yet reflect an image that is unmistakable to most drivers as "bike".

margonaute said...

somervillain (and cycler): Ah hah, but I go reflex tires AND caterpillerization! Boo-yah!

I hope the chrysalis stage happens during wintertime at least...

MandG said...

Vivian wears battery powered Christmas lights.

somervillain said...

i wouldn't mind a tent around my bike in wintertime!

margonaute said...

MandG: Yes! The lady Raleigh had this "head light" setup on the (one and only) ride to the bike shop after I got her. Wasn't enough to really be a headlight, since I got such a short strand, but I do think it attracted notice! Battery-powered LEDs are wonderful things.

Traci said...

Hi margonaute - thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a link for this! The caterpillar effect is really neat and I can see how it would help you feel even safer at night. Love your blog - am adding it to my list! :)

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