Thursday, January 28, 2010

Being Seen: Evening Edition

Wednesday evening held a few interesting encounters for me. First was Haley, a local bicycle aficionado with a smashing sense of style. I hope to see her around town on an equally stylish bicycle!

Second was a Cobb County couple driving down Peachtree Street. As we both stopped for a traffic light, they rolled down the window to compliment me on my bike and ask if they could take a picture. Then they asked if I was from Europe. I wasn't quite sure what to say, but hopefully I conveyed to them that you can ride your bicycle around town even if you are just Atlantan (or a transplant Atlantan).

Riding home on a drizzly evening. Sparkle, sparkle. Credit: Kyle
It makes me happy to ride a shiny, pretty, comfortable bicycle, but I like the advocacy aspect of it too. It's a conversation starter.

I have also augmented my lighting situation, and that makes me feel much better about riding after the sun goes down. I now have two lights in the front. One is a Planet Bike one-watt Blaze. It is really bright. The settings give you a choice of bright, super-bright (runs down the batteries faster though), and flicker (which is better in traffic than a slow blink - it allows other road users to track your speed and course more easily). I supplement it with my old headlight set to blink.

On the rear, I have a bright Planet Bike Superflash mounted to my rack, plus an old helmet light suspended from the seat. I leave the Superflash on solid and let the secondary light flash. It has eased my mind considerably about riding through the dark winter evenings.


  1. i'm a fan of planet bike lights, and i've heard great things from owners of the one-watt blaze. the next time i have to replace a headlight, that's the one it will be.

    since i rotate through a collection of bikes and don't feel like equipping each one with a full complement of lighting, i use (at a minimum) a planet bike sport spot 4-LED helmet light, and a planet bike 3H taillight, both mounted on my helmet. this way i know i'm covered no matter which bike i decide to ride on any given day. the bike that i use the most for any given season usually sports its own set of lights to supplement my helmet lights. i like having a set at driver lever and another set higher up... i feel like i'm maximizing my visibility to other motorists when there's a big obstruction between us (like a big fat SUV).

  2. I have a 1 Watt Blaze and a Magic Shine 900. I commute on some winding trails and the extra light from the Magic Shine is much easier to see by. I use my Planet Bike in blink mode to be seen.

    How do you fasten your Superflash to the rack. I had one clipped to the light holder on my rack but it fell off on a bump and was run over by a car. I like the light but I need a better way to fasten it.

  3. Yup, planet bike is good for simple visibility, although the aesthetics leave something to be desired. I've heard good things about cateye too. I have never heard of Magic Shine.

    somervillain - I have wondered about the best height for lights. On a normal bicycle, we are actually up higher than a lot of cars, and handlebar mounted lights are higher than a car's headlights (maybe not higher than SUVs, though). Does that affect motorists' recognition of our lights? I don't know...

    JackTB - I ordered a couple of rear light mounts off of a while back. They were only a couple of dollars each. They have four holes for bolts, in a sort of cross pattern. It mounted perfectly to my Tubus rack, which has a standard two-hole plate on the back. My Wald rack has just a center slot, so I bolted it to that in one place and used zipties through the two outer holes. It is one of the best placements for a rear light - super visible!

    I hope we see more innovative mounting methods in the future...most of my tubes are obstructed by racks so the generic mounting hardware (for handlebars and seatposts) doesn't do much for me.