The Chainlink

Please use lights. Front and back.

Driving home from Waukegan and taking the backroads. It's eventually dark about halfway down. I see a ton of cyclists and a fraction (not including Divvy's) that have lights. Listen, I don't want to hit you. I am paying attention but I cannot see you. Please do not assume that your reflectors are sufficient, that the street lights are sufficient, that lighter colored clothing is enough, or that a reflective stripe on your backpack is enough when I am not seeing you from behind. 

I am not asking you to wear a helmet. I am asking you to be visible, that's it. I am not going to give examples of near misses. I just don't want to hit you. Please do not assume I do not want to see you or that I am not looking. Oh hell, I am looking. 

I am a hypervigilent driver. I am a hypervigilent cyclist. I use a camera on my bike and in my car. We all deserve to make it home safely.

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This is a totally reasonable request. In bike-friendly European countries with tons of cycling and low crash and injury rates, few people wear helmets, but they think you're nuts if you ride at night without lights.

I agree.


The absolute best reason for having a good front light.

Now that autumn is here, so is the early evening darkness when everyone is heading home from work. The danger is the unseen hazards in the street surface (potholes, cracks, seams, construction work) that are invisible on many of the chill side streets we use to get home. Especially with the leaves still on the trees and the fact that the new Chicago LED streetlights aim downward  now and create more dark-zones than the former sodium-vapor type with the wider light-spreading pattern. 

If you are interested in self-preservation and don't want to hit the pavement or do an endo, get a good front light. And get a red rear also.

Don't let this happen to you. (warning-injury-photo)


I could not agree more.

Has anyone tried those LED lights designed to go in your wheels?

I don't know how much they would help in terms of providing visibility from behind, but my inner 13 year old thinks they're kind of rad.

I use some inexpensive LEDs on my wheel spokes.  I have a taillight to take care of being seen from behind.  What these kinds of lights do is make your bike much more visible from the side, which is all good.

I received some red ones as a gift and put them on one year around the holidays, not sure how much they did for visibility but they were certainly festive. The battery pack on mine isn't as nice as the one in your video and is a bit of a pain, but I may put them back on this year now that it's getting darker out and you've reminded me I have them stashed somewhere.

You can see a lot of different versions of these on the Critical Mass rides, and i agree with Nora that they’re more festive than anything else, but they also shine out to the sides and make a pool of light that’s visible from all angles. I’m not ditching my red rear light, but on top of that i like these. Especially in winter when less people are out: i’m happy to be a spectacle then!

I've started covering my front light if riding or cutting my car headlights briefly when I encounter these ninjas.  That is if I see them in time to react.  Not sure if they get the message, or if they really care.  Unfortunately in this minimalist society, lights are too often deemed an unnecessary accessory.

I'm not condoning this behavior, but if you want to get inside the head of a bike ninja to find out why on earth someone would choose to ride without lights, read this.

You know it's a sure sign of fall when we start reading about the bike ninjas again.


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