BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: riding at night

Reflective DIY “Get Visible” – Photoshoot

3M Scotchlite tape - what a stealthy reflective cheap trick!

Okay Midnight Riders… it is wintery and darker than usual at the end of our work days this time of year.  In the spirit of digging up things in our past like you all have been posting for our Bike Commuters 2000th post Giveaway, here’s the follow-up to our article on Reflective DIY Tape! So: for Raiyn & his stealth reflector bling power and all the other Bike Commuters out there, I finally got ahold of a photomaker and snapped some photos!  I also got ahold of a magic wand. Check out the the effectiveness of the easy bibbity-bobbity-boo Scotchlite 3M reflective tape Makeover:

Version 1: No flash, living room lights on.

Dayman.

Version 2: With flash, living room lights off, awesome magic sparkle power ON.

Fighter of the Nightman! aAAAaaaa!

ShaBAM:  bright at night, but the 3M reflective tape blends in during the day too!  For more archive digging, check out my favorite BikeCommuters.com gateway articles, Moe’s Rear Blinky Comparo or Jack “Ghost Rider” Sweeney’s Planet Bike 1W Blaze Review. Stay bright, night commuters!

Hasbro... maybe they will make a "Lite-Brite" movie since they already made "Transformers"

All lit up… like a Christmas Tree?

Now that daylight savings time has ended and most of us in the U.S. have “fallen back” to standard time, many more of us face dark commutes home. But – on the bright side – literally – we have daylight again for the commute to work in the morning. The fall back could not have occurred for me at a better time, since I had to be at work earlier than usual on Monday morning and was so glad to have the sun grace my commute in.

But the evening commute is all dark. My route typically takes me through an area of Chicago with many tourists. I found myself grinning from ear to ear upon hearing a couple of businessmen comment to each other, “Look – she’s all lit up like a Christmas Tree” and then to me they said, “There’s no way you won’t be seen.” That’s the point – to be seen and hopefully be safer in the dark. My helmet has a Cateye Opticube headlight strapped to the top and a Planet Bike Superflash secured to the back (with a small kitty collar), along with reflective tape and stickers along the side.

My fellow cyclists get creative when it comes to being seen, and I admired this woman’s hi-vis rear reflectors and lights! What a great use of old CDs.

Yesterday I read a post on the Bicycle Victoria site about visibility and was surprised to read “Riders seem generally have a poor understanding of what makes them visible.” The article went on to state: “Reflective vests, rated highly by many riders, were nowhere near as effective as reflective strips worn on the ankles and knees‹which riders thought poorly of.” And it rated flashing lights as most effective.

I never assume any driver sees me, so I just use a combination of visibility tactics – hi-vis jacket or vest, flashing lights front and back and reflectors.

My next addition to my bike will be a Fiber Flare, which should add even more 360-degree visibiltiy.

In Chicago, it’s the law for cyclists to have a headlight on their bikes after dark and at least a rear reflector. The Active Transportation Alliance recently ran a campaign to raise funds for headlight distribution to cyclists. Don’t be surprised to volunteers out there – flash mob style – in the attempt to equip more than 200 cyclists with free headlights and educate cyclists about staying safe on the street after dark.

If you need some advice as to what the differences between all those lighting choices are, Noah’s recent review of lighting systems should help you assess your lighting needs to get all lit up, too.

Product Review: Flashbak safety light

Just in time for “dark season,” we received a FlashBak safety light. I’ve put this baby through the paces over the last few weeks.  This includes freakishly warm temperatures at the beginning of this month, lots of rain earlier this week, and snowy slush yesterday.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Construction is simple, and use is straight-forward. There’s a battery pack, an illuminated pushbutton remote to turn things on and off, and the light rig itself: 10 bright amber LEDs embedded in a nylon strap. Several alligator clips are attached to the rig with paracord, so it can clip onto pretty much anything from jerseys and hydration packs to panniers and bookbags.

When I said the LEDs were bright, I meant it.  Aside from cropping, this image came straight off my camera without any other manipulation. Other cyclists and a few motorists have also commented on how bright it is. You will be seen.

The on-off remote can be clipped to your backpack strap, to the front of your shirt, or somewhere else that’s easy to get to and see. It has a matching LED in it as well, saving you the hassle of doing that probably-familiar “is my light on?” neck-crane maneuver.

Here’s a video of it in action. There’s only one mode, and it’s a pretty eye-catching pattern.

I don’t know how many hours I’ve gotten out of it so far, but it’s still running on the original 3AA batteries that it shipped with. The battery pack also holds the electronics “brain” (embedded in waterproof epoxy) as well as a hard on-off switch to remove any possibility of accidentally turning it on when you don’t want to.

All in all, this is a solid-built rig that seems to hold up well in all weather conditions. It’s pretty much the brightest rear light I’ve seen on a bicycle before, and the amber color is a nice touch. I still usually combine it with a steady-lit red rear tail light and DOT reflectors, though.  Some steady, bright-red LEDs and/or reflective piping added to this rig would be a great addition to the product line, in my opinion. Distance is hard to judge by flashing lights alone.

MSRP is $45. It can be purchased at a few bike shops in Austin, TX or on the manufacturer’s website: FlashBakOnline.com

Although this product was given to me by the manufacturer, I tried pretty much everything I could do within the parameters of my usual commute routine to break and abuse this product. The above is my brutally honest and unbiased opinion.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.