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When do you turn on your lights?(21 posts)

When do you turn on your lights?Kristin
Nov 8, 2001 12:31 PM
I'm posting this for the benefit of new riders, not seasoned ones--you'll already know about this.

I'll confess to pushing sunset a time or two. I always figured I'd be fine without lights 15 minute after sunset. On Saturday, I was 2 miles out when the sun ducked behind the trees. An elderly gentleman almost turned directly into me. I'm glad I was focused. I had a short conversation with him in which he expressed that he did not see me AT ALL and that I should have some lights. Hmmm...I looked around, and it seemed plenty light to me. But, then again, not everyone has my eyes. The elderly and the night blind don't see as well when shadows disappear. Plus visibility isn't as good inside a car. I rolled into my local bike shop (the one that gives me free repairs) and paid and outrageous price for a front light and rear reflector. But I'm lit now.

Moral of the story. Lights on 15 min. before sunset, not 15 min. after.
re: Thanks, vets need reminders too! nmdzrider
Nov 8, 2001 12:45 PM
re: When do you turn on your lights?UncleMoe
Nov 8, 2001 12:52 PM
A few days ago I tossed my MTB into my truck to go for a night riding session on a trail a few miles from my house. I was going up the hill and, seemingly, out of nowhere there is a road biker right in front of me. There are no lights on the street, he had no lights, and was wearing all black. If it wasn't for his rear reflecter he'd be toast.

LIghts are important. If not for your own benefit and saftey, do it for the drivers who have a tough even time as it is seeing us bikers.
here's a rule of thumbET
Nov 8, 2001 12:53 PM
I was going to ask the same question a few weeks ago until I figured out in practice the following rule of thumb:

When half the cars have their lights on, so should you.

You could view this as a wait-late rule, i.e. if you don't have it on yet you better by now. As you discovered (I must admit I sometimes try delaying the lights thing too), it's not worth risking your life over.

I have another, related question. Is it safer to be riding home around 15 minutes after sunset or when it's darker but with your lights? This can be relevant, as I can alter my commute schedule accordingly if it pays to do so.
here's a rule of thumbUncleMoe
Nov 8, 2001 12:59 PM
I think it is safer with a light AND it is darker. Dusk is tough. But, I'm not sure it is worth changing your schedule for. Just be more consious and aware that you are tougher to see at dawn/dusk even with lights. Assume less.
here's a rule of thumbScot_Gore
Nov 8, 2001 1:28 PM
If you live in North America, the lenght of the day is going to make it darker earlier. You won't need to alter your commute schedule for long.

You may want to look up the previous tread on the ilumiNight jacket. (if you missed it)

It's users thought they were more visible at night with it on than they were in the day.
Nice motoristPaulCL
Nov 8, 2001 1:18 PM
A couple of years ago, on an early AM ride just before sunset, I almost go broadsided by a guy in a pickup. He could have yelled at me, he could have flipped me off, but he didn't. Instead, he rolled up next to me and calmly said that he couldn't see me without lights. He was visibly shaken. Apparently, he thought he came closer to me that he actually did. I thanked him and apologized. That afternoon I went to my LBS and bought a blinky light and a bar-mounted beam light.
Early AM before Sunset? So confused! ;-0 nmBrooks
Nov 8, 2001 1:34 PM
Early AM is always before Sunset! ( nm(bikedodger
Nov 8, 2001 1:38 PM
no no...early a.m. = 10:30 a.m.Kristin
Nov 8, 2001 1:47 PM
Yes. Waaaay before sunset! nmBrooks
Nov 8, 2001 3:43 PM
Blinky lights...UncleMoe
Nov 8, 2001 2:30 PM
The Specialized blinky lights are so awesome. I've had many cyclists ride up behind me in the dark (cause I am not the fastest guy around) and tell me they saw me from a mile away.
Blinky lights...betty
Nov 8, 2001 2:58 PM
I'm a bike commuter and have my lights on whenever I'm riding. During the day I find that I get less folks looking left past me as they get ready to make that rolling right turn (whatsup with that!). And at night the light I use is a real head light and I can actually see the road.

I use a Night Rider Digital with a Night Rider rear light, it is totally worth the $$.

I do find that other cyclists that don't use lights at night, dusk or dawn are a real hazard for both cyclists and motorists.
Drain BamagePaulCL
Nov 8, 2001 4:12 PM
Jeez...give a guy a break! Sunrise - sunset...its' still almost dark! OK, I didn't proofread my post. So hire Do(u)g and sue me!

Just kidding...I would have pointed that snafu out also.
Whenever there's no direct sunlightRich Clark
Nov 8, 2001 3:06 PM
My lights go on in dusk or dawn conditions. They go on when there's fog or mist. They go on when the skies are grey ow when -- especially when -- it's raining.

I bought the lights as a defense against inattentive and distracted drivers. It would be stupid to get hit because I hadn't turned them on!

(I have two systems, and for one of them I have two chargers. I keep the second one at work. For the other system the charger rides with me.)

For the small price of batteries ....tarwheel
Nov 9, 2001 6:13 AM
Run them as much as possible. It's a small price to pay for additional safety and peace of mind. My Vistalite Super Nebula will run 200 hours on 2 AA batteries in flashing mode. Most other tail-lights have similar durations. Very inexpensive insurance policy, in my view.
If you are wondering whether to turn your lights on.....muncher
Nov 9, 2001 6:20 AM
then you should turn them on. Simple.
commuters go rechargeablefishwheel
Nov 9, 2001 10:35 AM
I think you should turn your lights on whenever your not sure. I built my own lighting system and went with a bettery that gives me 4 hours of run time. I turn it on when I leave work if it looks any darker than daytime. I know I have lots of run time, and I just need to plug it in when I get home.

I've said this before but, I personally am not at all satisfied with option for prefabricated bike lights. They're all built on simple technology, and there is no reason for the high price. Of course you could go with the small light option (cateye or others), but I found those lights to be totally useless for my purposes. Well not totally useless, I bring one with me when it's early enough in the fall that I'm not really riding in the dark, but bring it in case I get delayed so the cars can see me. The light I built uses a 20w bulb, but I added another 20w this year for extra brightness at times and for backup in case a bulb goes or anything else goes wrong. I don't want to be without a light when its pitch black, the roads are snowy, and it 8 degrees F outside.

Seriously folks, if you want to have a powerful lighting system with long run time, but are balking at the high price tag, build your own, it's easy, cheap, and you'll understand how simple lighting systems really are. You can find plans on the web.
Hey fishwheel...dsc
Nov 9, 2001 11:14 PM
point me towards the URL where you found those plans?

Hey fishwheel...UncleMoe
Nov 10, 2001 6:06 PM

Go to, check out the forums, or tech talk, and go to the Spot Light section. There is an area in there just for lighting systems. A hadnful of people have posted various plans to build your own.

Aw heck, here is a link to the section...

Scroll down the the message board section below all the pics. Read the titles and you'll see the ones that are for plans.
Thanks Moe,dsc
Nov 10, 2001 11:47 PM
...lots of good info on that site. Now I have something else
to plan to do with all of my *free time* hahahahaha!!!!!