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reflective tape and/or velcro for night biking?
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Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
reflective tape and/or velcro for night biking? on 09/01/2011 15:22:32 MDT Print View

howdy all.
per the subject line...

1.) fall is coming and biking at night will be entirely new for me.
(hiking in dark-- been there, do that).

i ride "back" roads in a quaint new england town.
mostly dirt, some paved (as i approach town itself).
light traffic 95% of time, but i'll be riding when workforce
"traffic" lets out.
still, i wanna be seen, and be able to see.

2.) is it necessary to "candy-cane" reflective tape to my frame?
*i plan to use both a front and flashing rear light*
( presently no reflectors on this beast)

3.)b/c i'll be using both a front and rear light,
would i still need a headlamp attached to my lid?
is there such a thing as too much light power,
as to distort your own depth perception?
or that of an oncoming vehicle?

good to see ahead, better to been seen from behind, however,
what about those times when you wanna check on the cog set?

bottom line: i'd think a headlamp would prove useful under most conditions?

4.)can anyone suggest a tried and true homemade way to velcro a h-lamp to a helmet?
is it necessary to blitz my helmet with reflective tape too?

thanks tons.

Stephen Chan
(syc168) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Night biking on 09/01/2011 16:45:17 MDT Print View

You don't need to gift wrap the bike or your helmet with reflective tape, but it would make sense to put *some* on there. I would put some on the rim of your wheels - obviously not where the brakes would rub. A pair of reflective spinning light patches is a good cue to drivers that its a bike. Some tape on your seatstays and a strip along each side of your helmet should work. Sometimes batteries die or else the lights are just too dim to be seen from far away, and high quality reflective tape helps a lot for those situations.

Use a high quality rear light ( PDW RadBot 1000 is crazy bright, the Planet Bike Superflash is more than bright enough and smaller), and a decent quality front light (the Busch and Muller Lumotec IQ series are nice) mounted as low and far forward on your bike as possible - like maybe on the fork.

A low mounted front light makes bumps on the road surface cast shadows, so you can get a better idea of the road conditions. Plus if it is raining or foggy, the glare from a light mounted away from your eyes will be easier to deal with than a big cloud of glare in front of your face.

A helmet light is handy because sometimes you *do* want to look somewhere that you don't want to steer the bike into, but it has its drawbacks in poor weather. A Princeton Tec EOS Bike has a strap that will go around a helmet, those little photon lights could easily be clipped to a helmet too.

Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
Re: reflective tape and/or velcro for night biking? on 09/01/2011 17:16:55 MDT Print View

I commute nearly everywhere by bicycle. If not on two wheels then by rail and very rarely in a friend's car. I don't even own an internal combustion engine. All that and I still give off 100% fewer smug emissions than a Prius owner ;)

Drivers really tick me off with the disregard for the safety of cyclists they demonstrate daily. The following are some methods that have worked for me towards improving my safety.

Wear a reflective vest! Lights are nice, but they can lose power, etc. You can get one of the workplace safety OSHA type vests from a hardware store or you can get a little bib (think dinner bib not bike bib) looking thing made special for bicycling. The vests are so bright that when any light hits them it's like the sun came out.

There is a Princeton Tech kit that includes an amazingly bright and multi-flashy rear light and a suitably powerful headlight. It's not the cheapest of the Princeton Tec kits, but the next step up. The rear light is about the same, but the headlight is something like double the lumens. The headlight has maybe 3 modes, high, low, and flashy. Flashy is good for me, but my partner prefers high. Buy this at a place that has a good warranty/returns policy.

Too much power? Probably not. Your light will be mostly focused at the ground to illuminate it for your anyways. A white light on your helmet would be a great help for depth perception, but is not strictly necessary depending on the conditions of your roads.

I do not have the reflective tape anywhere on my bike, but if its not too expensive, it probably cannot hurt.

The best tip I have to force drivers to give you enough space is to take the lane. If there is ever not enough room for a car to pass you safely for your safety, make their stupid choice a safety issue for them too. Take the lane when there is too much oncoming traffic for a mid-sized car to safely pass you. Take the lane at red lights to avoid being clipped by someone making a right turn. Take the lane if there are road hazards. When in doubt, take the lane. People will pass you crazy dangerously if you are just minding your business on the shoulder, but when you take the lane they will not dare to risk a head-on collision with on coming motor vehicles.

The other part of this is to be courteous to drivers. Do not cut cars at stop signs, red lights, etc. if it means those cars are just going to have to pass you again. Do keep to the shoulder when cars really have enough space to pass you 3 feet. Do pull off the road if you have sufficiently bunched traffic up behind you. Do signal lane changes and turns. Do make eye contact with drivers.

The second best tip I have is to mount a pool noodle that is the exact width of you gripping your handle bars. Mount it to your seat post centered on the seat post. That's the place I would mount a reflective caution triangle or some of that reflective tape. This is to physiologically inform the driver of the space you are occupying and I believe it works.

If/when you get hit don't worry if you lose your cool and get totally frazzled. I was hit by a huge SUV in my lane, going my direction while we were both approaching a red-light. I was keeping to the shoulder and he just really really wanted to be exactly one bicycle length closer to the red-light. I wasn't injured except for some scrapes and a banged up knee, but my bike was wrecked. After the wreck I was so frazzled I didn't even think to take down the driver's information or anything. I just got off the road with my mangled bike and checked myself over. By the time I realized the bike was wrecked the car had driven away. They didn't even get out of the car.

After this, and reading up on road safety for bicyclists, I took to the "take the lane" philosophy. Everything's been great since. When in doubt, take the lane.

Don't take crap from drivers. If someone does something dangerous to you and you catch them at a light, rap on their window and call them out for it. You'll likely invariably hear, "you shouldn't be on the road." Inform them that Nanny State and Johnny Law say it's illegal for you to be on the sidewalk and that according to them you have all the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle. Be firm, tell them what they did wrong, and tell them to watch out for cyclists. Remind them that they are caged in a literal ton of metal while you have maybe 25 pounds beneath your bum.

Please lock your bike up with something other than a cable lock! I've had a bike stolen and it sucked. It really bummed me out and cost precious money to replace. An ounce of prevention...

A pair of 36" cutters from the hardware store will destroy most any cable lock in seconds. Same thing applies to most chain and pad locks you can get at a hardware store. I've heard of people cutting through thin cable locks with toe nail clippers. Your rear wheel is more expensive than your front wheel and almost as easy to take off with a wrench. If possible, lock your bike with a U-lock or one of those hardened hex chains through your rear wheel and rear triangle.

With the right tools, any one of which can easily fit in a backpack, any bike can be taken in about a minute. No kidding. It's best to lock your bike with two different types of locks for this reason. For instance, a bottle jack might be a good attack against some kinds of u-locks, but is fairly worthless against most any chain/cable. If someone is going to take your bike, make them work for it or more likely make them choose a softer target. Public policy hasn't exactly caught up with this stunning analysis, certainly not on solving the motive part, but crime is all about opportunity and motive. You, personally, can only take away their opportunity.

And that's about all the advice I can impart about bicycle safety.

Edited by deGuerre on 09/01/2011 21:27:05 MDT.

Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
be seen or be seen, eh? on 09/02/2011 12:04:09 MDT Print View

SUPER helpful.
thanks HEAPS.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: reflective tape and/or velcro for night biking? on 09/02/2011 16:17:51 MDT Print View

"I would put some on the rim of your wheels - obviously not where the brakes would rub."

Exactly and lightweight compared to plastic reflectors. I got some silver reflective tape from the auto parts store and put little strips on the inside of the rims about 1/2 way around. Also some strips on the helmet, silver on silver doesn't stand out as much as that fluorescent yellow.

'Is there such a thing as too much light power,"

I had a 35watt auto foglamp mounted on the front bars and powered by a sealed lead-acid battery, it ran about 45minutes and was bright enough to light the road completely but was really heavy like 5lb. You could probably buy or make something a lot more efficient with LEDs today... This was in addition to a flashing red in the back and flashing white in the front. BTW, mount the LED flashers to the frame and aim them at car driver level -- having it on your pack pointed at the sky does no good.