Today’s subject is one that I am very passionate about. Using front and rear blinking lights in the daytime can really increase your visibility to all the obstacles you might face. It might seem strange at first thought, but I truly believe it is the only way to go.
Of course, at night, full lighting is a no-brainer. We have bright NiteRider lights that strap easily onto our handlebars. (I have done an article on them here in my blog.) They rely on powerful lithium batteries to give a strong beam for a long time. Lights like these are necessary to illuminate the road in the dark. Being seen in the daytime is our story here.
There are many ways riders make themselves more noticeable. Bright orange and green vests are seen on bicyclists every day. Extra reflectors and reflective tape can be added to your bike. Antennas with flags are affixed to trailers and sometimes the bike itself. These can help, but don’t compare with a pair of flashing LED lights.
The front light will often catch the eye of a person who is getting ready to pull out of a side street or driveway. Car door opened in front of you? Possibly avoided. The light can be noticed in the mirror by the driver that might turn in front of you. Also, easily seen by opposing traffic, they could prevent a close call or worse. Other bikers and pedestrians will see you coming and give you a wider berth to prevent an eye-opening moment.
These are the main things that make my light blink in the daytime. I know it is making a big difference in my personal well being, and that of my wife. I hope you will take the time to affix and use a basic front blinking light to increase your chances of having a good ride.
The rear light is not as important in the daytime. Most people coming up from behind will see you. If they are going too fast or distracted for reasons unknown, any extra thing you can do to be seen is worth it. You are already turning on the front light before a ride, so it only takes a few more seconds to switch on the rear light too. I know I do, and I recommend you do the same.
My wife and I will sometimes get people telling us it is a waste of time and money to run them in the daylight hours. That is fine, let them think what they want. When people (including other bikers) ask us if we know our lights are on, we respond, “you noticed”. Almost always they get that look in their eye that tells us they now understand. The lights are easy to see and people notice them, that’s my point.
The lights we are talking about are low-cost. They use LED bulbs that last a lifetime. They drain the batteries at a minimal rate. They offer a blinking and non-blinking mode. Some even have more than one blinking mode, fast and slow.
Try not to get one of too low of quality. As the price goes down, so does the strength of the plastic and the life of the internal electrics. They mount on the handlebars with a plastic loop fixture. This piece needs to be strong enough to not break. You can get a bracket to mount it on your forks or front wheel axle. Set the light level to the ground. I do like to use Duracell batteries, as they last a long time and rarely leak acid into the light.
Just like the front lights, the rear tail lights are available in a wide range of features and quality levels. They too have LED lights that work great. Some are much brighter than others. On some of our bikes I have mounted two rear lights for a reason I will mention in a minute.
Most will have the option of several light patterns they blink in. They say this is to make them easier to see, but it mostly means you have to toggle the switch many extra times to turn them on or off. In the daytime, you have to shade the light and look at them closely to confirm they are off when you are done riding.
The extra-bright lights are the best. One drawback is the additional drain on the battery. That is ok, as I would rather replace the batteries more often, then have a dim light in the day time. These are so very bright at night. Some companies claim they can be seen from a half a mile to a full mile away. I like that.
We got some mail order extra-bright tail lights that have been troublesome. I had read in the reviews that they would sometimes turn themselves off while riding. The reviewers said not to count on it as your only rear light. I have two with this problem. I have set them aside and am only using the ones that work correctly, but have installed a second regular strength light to back them up. The benefit is having two rear blinking lights that are that much easier to see. Also, it is easy to check that the front light is working by putting your hand in front of it to see the reflection, but to check the rear light is a little harder.
I have heard good things about the tail lights from Planet Bike. I have seen them on other bikes. I have some other accessories from this company I really like. These are the most expensive tail lights on the market. I am planning on getting them for all of our bikes. The quality and intensity should be worth the cost.
If anything here makes sense to you, then by all means start using your blinking lights day and night. I hope to see that my wife and I are not the only ones that think this is a good idea. If this helps you stay on your bike and stay healthy, that will make me happy. Just do it!
Time to jump off my soapbox, Turbo Bob.
“Do your homework, because you’ll never make money riding a bike.”—Greg LeMond’s High-school history teacher.