Thursday, March 17, 2011

To be Seen AND Heard.

"How is it you see every cyclist that runs a red light, rides the wrong way, etc...but didn't see the one you just ran over?"
 I ride to work nearly every day. Don't take this as immodest, but I like to be seen. There are too many ghost bikes around town. The common denominator from the drivers, "I didn't see him." Apparently, not being seen is viable, consequence-absolving excuse. I minimize that excuse by being visible, HIGHLY visible. I ride with lights on, day or night, wear a bright yellow jacket with reflective striping with a supplemental reflective vest in the dark. I ride down Cedar from the South Hill every morning. I usually travel at the speed limit so I am out in the lane enough to be seen at all intersection. I make sure that I am seen with BRIGHT lights. On the handle bars I have a Cygolite "Hi-Flux" 150 lumen LED headlight, on my helmet I have a Cygolite "MilliOn" 200 lumen LED headlight. During daylight hours I run the helmet light on flash mode. This gets the attention a little better by putting something uncommon in the drivers field of view. At night, I leave it
on normal "high" mode. The advantage of a helmet light is that the light goes where you look, it illuminates the driver so you know he sees you (and nothing else for several moments later!) another advantage is that it puts a light above parked cars for when you ride downtown.

Planet Bike "Blinky-5" LED

Bontrager "Flair 3"

On the back of my bike, I have a Planet Bike "Blinky-5" LED light on my rack, a Bontrager "Flair 3" (w/2 -half watt LEDs) and a Planet Bike "Super Blinky" (w/1 -half watt LED) on my seat post, and Bontrager "Road Beacon" bar end lights (available for either drop or straight bars) and D.O.T. reflective tape on my panniers and fender. All of my lights run on rechargeable batteries to lower operating cost and environmental impact. There is a plethora of lights on the market, these are just the lights that I currently use.

 Planet Bike "Super Blinky"
 Delta "Airzound" 105 db air horn

I also have something that allows me to not only be seen, but also to be heard. I have recently acquired a Delta "Airzound" 105 db air horn. It is designed specifically for a bicycle with the horn and trigger on the handle bars and a pop-bottle air tank that fits in a bottle cage. The whole thing weighs about 7 oz. You can recharge the air tank with your floor pump. Somebody asked me, "How long does the tank last?" I said, "Depends on traffic!"

Lights don't come cheap. I purchased each component one at a time to minimize the personal economic impact. But comparatively speaking, the price of the lights is significantly lower than the cost of being hit by a car. The Cygolite "MilliOn" runs around $120, the Hi-Flux about $80, the "Super Blinky" and "Flair 3" about $25 each and the "Blinky 5" about $17 and the "Bar End Beacon" are $20. The Air Horn is about $40. A bright yellow jacket will run you from $35 ~$200 . One ride in an ambulance is nearly a grand. You do the math. Each time you see a car suddenly hit the brakes, you can be assured that the lights just have paid for themselves.


  1. I had never seen those Beacon bar-end lights before. How wide is the viewing angle? I have an "alt" handlebar with a substantial sweep. Are they in stock at Two Wheel Transit?
    - Ventura

  2. Yes they are in stock at the shop. I checked the specs and they do not indicate a relevant angle. You may wish to come in with your bike to check them out on those bars. Thanks for reading.