Bike Lights: How to See & Be Seen

412_web_alt1-1Biking in the summer often involves sun and warm temperatures. Yet fall is just around the corner with it’s accompanying cooler temps and shorter days. Shorter days means longer nights. And longer nights means biking in the dark (or near dark).

When biking at night, dusk, or in the rain, it’s important to see and be seen; it’s equal parts illuminating the road, trail, or path in front of you and keeping yourself visible for other road/trail/path users. Oregon law even states that bicyclists riding in “limited visibility conditions” must have a front white light and rear red light or reflector. One might even argue that both front AND rear lights are essential.

There are a lot of options out there for lights.

There are lights that flash, which can help get other road users attention, and lights with a solid beam, which can help you see the road. Many lights have both. Some lights use batteries, some lights are USB charged, and some are all sorts of high tech. Lights can cost $10, $30, or even $300. [Just remember: whether your bike light uses batteries or needs to be charged, keeping it supplied with fresh batteries or a fresh charge is what keeps it lighting your way.] Although some lights are better than others, ultimately, simply having lights on your bike, and using them, is the best kind of light(s) to have.

412_spaceship3_web-1We actually think lights are so important we are selling them through the Bike Commute Challenge. Thanks to Portland Design Works, we have a stock of Spaceship™ 3 lights available. However, whether you buy them from us, from Portland Design Works, from your local bike shop, on-line, or from a friend, just make certain you have lights.

Fun tip: Bike lights aren’t the only thing that keep bicyclists visible at night. Bright clothes, reflective vests, reflective leg bands, and reflective material on your bike and/or gear can go a long way toward making you more visible on the road. Stop by your local bike shop to see the array of available options or undertake a D.I.Y. project to sew reflective strips or patches onto your clothes or gear.

You simply never know when you may leave work later than planned, get caught in the rain (it’s Oregon after all), or decide you need to take your bike out after dark. So get reflective and light your way!


Comments (2)

  1. Jace Thompson Permalink  | Sep 03, 2014 02:41pm

    And please, please, please, remember, it’s a light, it’s not a weapon! Give your setup a test by standing in FRONT of your own bike at night with your headlight on. If it feels like your retina is burning and your brain is being smashed by strobes…..adjust your light downward! The photo above, I would argue, is setup in the improper manner of maximum eye stabbing intensity and angle. Be kind to your brothers and sisters. When in doubt, check it out.

    Thanks and enjoy the dark times!

  2. Joe Tilman Permalink  | Sep 08, 2015 03:38pm

    Hint: if you a headlight order see where are going, mounting it on your stem above the fender (you DO have fenders, right?) will provide greater contrast, meaning can better where are going.

    Helmet and handlebar mounts better for lower wattage lighting (i.e. lights to seen by others), and provide limited contrast. Many people to compensate reduced by upping the lumens, which counterproductive two ways: 1) it blinds everyone else; and 2) defeats any residual night vision may have had. Without night vision have no peripheral vision.