Alternatives to the Safety Flag

A few weeks back, we posted a review of a safety flag…and while the device worked well, a number of our readers commented that it might be too dorky or ineffective for their uses.

The safety flag in question:
D-Tour safety flag

Those comments got us thinking: what could be some good alternatives to this flag? We came up with a couple novel ideas that we wanted to share. Let’s head to the Bikecommuters.com Secret Laboratory, located in the hooker-infested wastelands of central Tampa, to see what we came up with!

The secret lab

Mad scientist and all-around great guy Noah came up with our first alternative. It is still a flag, but we GUARANTEE that this will draw far more attention than some puny, fluorescent flag — here it is:
Noah's pirate flag
This flag creates a tremendous racket when flown — the flag flaps in the breeze, the pole clanks and rattles. It sounds, well, like a pirate ship! We’ve found that this flag is most effective if some verbal invective is used simultaneously…you know, “Avast, ye scallywags, give me some space or I’ll SWAB THE DECK with ya!!!”

Our next alternative was created just after Florida passed their “step in the right direction, but unenforced” 3-foot passing rule. This alternative provides both a visual passing distance indicator as well as a text-based indicator. Here it is:

Friendly side

Had a rough day and don’t feel so charitable? Well, this alternative is reversible…just unscrew the two bolts and flip this badboy over to let motorists know how you REALLY feel:
Not so friendly

There you have it — two alternatives that might make you feel a bit less dorky and keep you VERY visible to motorists. That’s how we roll at the Bikecommuters.com Secret Laboratory…coming up with great solutions to all your commuting problems!!!

Thanks to my homie, Terry, for allowing me to plunder his collection of yardsticks.


17 Comments

  1. Mike October 5, 2007 6:41 am 

    Huh… just yesterday I was contemplating Maine’s new 3′ passing law and wondered if it would be OK to mount something sharp like a ragged chunk of tool steel on the end of a 3′ fiberglass pole. Someone buzzes you, breaking the law, *scrape*, down the side of the car. ‘Course you would prolly have to mark it with a flag for it to be even close to legal and then the only people who would actually fall for it would be them what were aiming to buzz you on purpose, who might also be the kind of people to take great umbrage to the point of physical retaliation at their freshly scratched paint…

    Eh. Think I’ll skip the pointy stick and the flag.

  2. Ghost Rider October 5, 2007 6:58 am 

    Seriously, when Florida passed this rule last year, my biking friends and I joked about using an old sword blade in the same manner as the yardstick above…but common sense got the best of us!

  3. Moe October 5, 2007 7:13 am 

    Mmm, can you easily detach the stick? You know, to use for personal protection?

  4. Quinn October 5, 2007 7:19 am 

    Definately like the alternative! I would mainly get flack from other cyclist if I used that legit flag!, we are tight nit( as far as ettiquitte(sp?), And the home town of greg LeMond, after all, also all the lil car drive a wide path around, when the BIG truck buzz me.

  5. Ghost Rider October 5, 2007 7:56 am 

    Sure — the stick is a cheap, giveaway yardstick. Snap it right off and FIGHT! I suppose our lab techs didn’t test it all the way, though. We had no idea it was dual-purpose until just now!

  6. RL Policar October 5, 2007 8:23 am 

    HAHA! That’s hilarious!

  7. Noah October 5, 2007 8:44 am 

    Arr!

  8. Priscilla October 5, 2007 10:45 am 

    Nice Job GhostRider! Hilarious!!!! 😀

  9. wolfy October 6, 2007 6:27 am 

    I like all those ideas.

    -M

  10. Mike Myers October 6, 2007 7:21 pm 

    I currently use a Flash Flag, but I’ve wondered about the legality of a flag that stuck out a legit 3 feet. What IF someone devised a horizontally mounted safety flag that stuck out 3 feet—would it be legal?

    I really like the design of the Flash Flag. The spring mounting is a good idea, and it allows the flag to flap AND bounce up and down. The added axis of movement attracts more attention, I think. A version of this that stuck out further would be great.

    The flagpole(?) of the Flash Flag is cruciform in shape, so I cut tiny strips of 3M Diamond Grade reflective tape and stuck it on the flats. That addressed the one area in which the Flash Flag was inferior to the D-Chance you reviewed.

  11. Phil Hammerslough October 9, 2007 6:07 am 

    Dorky?

    Well, the D-Tour is a bit dorky, but then again, so is a helmet. Both have a commonality; you don’t need them until you need them. You go around wearing a helmet hoping you never need it and often wondering if you really do need it!
    If the D-Tour doesn’t go with your spandex, fixed gear, or cool persona, think how un-cool you look with road rash or a crumpled $8,000 road bike. If there’s nothing else about it, it sure builds your court case if some idiot runs you off the road.

    Phil Hammerslough

  12. Ghost Rider October 9, 2007 7:12 am 

    Phil….easy now. The keyword for the above article is HUMOR.

    Seriously, like so many safety items, coolness and safety don’t often go hand in hand. But you’ve got good points — I for sure would rather look dorky in a helmet rather than having bone splinters picked out of my brain at a rate of $10K an hour.

  13. Esther Lumsdon August 2, 2008 8:07 pm 

    I keep thinking of a 3ft chunk of wood with a sponge dripping orange paint. I haven’t figured out how to mount it so that the stick will break off my bike, and I won’t get pushed sideways off the road with the bike.

  14. Roger Bartlett August 28, 2008 6:21 pm 

    The Flashflag is a total piece of junk. It looks like it is made in China for no more than .50 cents. I paid $15.00 for mine off their web site. The clamp that came with it is worthless and I could never find anyway to attach the flag to the bike with it – frame or rack. I ended up having to drill a hole through the rack to screw it on. The flag itself is a puny little thing about 6″ long. It flapped around so much it was useless. I ended up glueing a triagular piece of plastic cardboard to it to hold it in a position motorists could see and painted the back of the cardboard orange. Oh, and did I mention the black arm. Black is really such very visible safety color. The Flashflag is a total rip off. Save your money and time trying to figure out how to mount it. Fortunately I found an excellent ALL plastic orange one with a hard flag that has a red reflector on the rear side and a white reflector on the front while in Switzerland last Oct. 2007. They are a quality product and not a cheap worthless toy and attach easily and are the best safety flag I have run across and were only $9.00 over there.
    I am looking into importing them since there is currently nothing worth putting on your bike available here at present. I believe that anyone riding a bicycle on the road today should have a safety flag. You can’t be seen enough.

  15. passwide February 20, 2013 8:15 am 

    Have a look at this flag contraption: passwide.com

    It has a very solid construction and can be changed from horizontal to vertical while in motion.

    Ride safe!

  16. Brenda October 18, 2014 4:17 pm 

    I’ve often thought of putting a sharp nail at the end of a flag for just the purpose that Mike mentioned. I get people passing too closely on “bicycle friendly” roads, even with a 3′ passing law. Maybe motorists would think twice next time they try to buzz a bicyclist.

  17. Brian July 1, 2015 2:55 pm 

    Drivers often act like nothing has happened when they come too close. A horn could get their attention. We could honk if they try to overtake you when they are in the same lane even as much as 2-1/2 ft. If possible, it’s better to avoid close calls. We need ways to make our bikes look like they take more space. Lights and reflectors should be placed further out. They should definitely design a bike flag that scratches loudly when too close. Maybe even puncture their tires so we can record their license numbers.

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