Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"...Let Your Light Shine Before Teens, That They Be Not Splattered On Your Bicycle"

 So in followup to my Nov. 6th post, tonight I was riding home from work at a little before six (dark) o'clock on the Salsa La Cruz commuter. Upon cresting Conoco Hill (aka Shell Hill) I flipped my Nightrider Lumina 650 to high beam in anticipation of picking up speed on the downhill, as unlike the Nightrider 1200 on my heavy duty commuter, the 650 is a tad less powerful. The 650 throws a nice beam but stuff can still surprise you and at 30 mph, finding an obstruction in the bike lane the hard way ain't fun. Sure enough, after passing the golf course entrance on Diamond Drive and heading for the roundabout on the downhill right sweeper, I suddenly saw two teens looming out of the dark, walking down the middle of the bike lane towards me as I barreled onward at about 30 mph.

It startled me first and I let out a bit of a shriek as I veered hard to port to avoid splattering all three of us on the road. I think I scared the crap out of them. They did likewise to me.

The bottom line is that lights matter. So does situational awareness. I was thinking deer tonight but teens are just as much of a hazard. Don't leave your lights or awareness at home. I may upgrade the 650, which I previously thought was plenty of light. Tonight it was enough but barely.

Everyone should be thinking safety, but the bottom line is that Looking Out for No. 1 is best done by No. 1. Don't count on others to be thinking about your safety. Or their own. I did stop and call LAPD and told them someone should counsel those teens. I hope someone did so. Next bicyclist might be running a 100 Lumen Saturday Night Special.  That's the problem with bike lights--no standardization. Don't outrun your illumination.

Monday, November 6, 2017

"...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your bicycle..."

With apologies to St. Matthew and the Good Book (for those not familiar, I borrowed that title from Matthew 5:15-16).

Its back to Mountain Standard Time and short days. If you have not put lights on your commuter or evening-ride bike, its getting a little late. Safety is not someone else's problem. Its yours.

Note that active lighting, not just reflectors, is critical for safety. Reflectors only reflect light shined directly on them, so they do not tell a motorist at a cross street that you are approaching at right angles or a motorist making a left turn that you are in the far bike lane (until it is too late). Also, reflectors do not warn YOU of road hazards, unlit pedestrians, nor do they keep you safe in those vexing hours around dawn and dusk.

Here is the Long Haul Trucker in winter dress.

Reflective stuff on sides.
Fenders keep grunge off of rider and as importantly, off of lights and reflectors.

Helmet with front/back lighting which can also be used as strobes

Retroreflective tape and reflector, two rear flashing strobe reflectors in case one fails

Headlamp with 1200 lumen max, retroreflective tape
Oh, and "ding" bell to get attention of pedestrians who are not wearing headsets