Linking to some useful information about bicycle headlights

Joshua Putnam has published some well-crafted commentary on how the brightness of LED bicycle headlamps requires a controlled beam pattern to prevent blinding other users of roads and paths. This relatively new problem deserves attention, and is related to the issue of possible triggering of epileptic seizures by flashing headlights, which I discussed in an earlier post on this blog and which Joshua also discusses.

4 responses to “Linking to some useful information about bicycle headlights

  1. Thanks, John. Important discussion.

  2. A lot can be improved by just getting the light down low. John, I’m pretty sure I got that from you, but I can’t find the page back. In the spirit of consumerism, here’s a bunch of ways to do that:

    When I’m in full Christmas tree mode I tend to supplement with a dimmer “be-seen” light on top of the bars.

    Frankly my sympathy for motorists blinded by bicycle lights isn’t very high given the very large percentage of motorists around here who blind me with their high beams.

    • The advice to mount a headlight low is here, in Bicycling Street Smarts. I think I got this advice first from Sheldon Brown, though mounting the headlamp on a fork blade goes way back. Many older English bicycles have a brazed-on fitting for a headlamp bracket — on the right fork blade, as the English drive on the left.

      I recall a bicycle tour back around 1980 when I had to ride at night on rural roads to reach my destination — with a 3-watt generator system and plain old incandescent bulbs, the headlamp mounted on the left fork blade. This worked OK at my low touring speed, around 12 mph. I was even able to read reflectorized street-name signs. YMMV, as the saying goes. The location and aim of the headlamp, and riding at a moderate speed, can compensate for lower light output. Most newer headlamps are mounted on the handlebar, and that is far less good than mounting it lower — if on the fork, use two headlamps, one on each fork blade if the lamp is narrow and tire is wide.

      Sheldon made a clever bracket so he could switch a wheel with a hub generator and headlamp from bike to bike — pictures are here.

      In Bicycling Street Smarts, I also recommend mounting a small battery light high, and aiming it level. That advice only applies to low-powered lights used for conspicuity when riding in urban areas with street lighting.

      Time for a rewrite!

    I don’t believe the cost would be significant in bulk.
    Real3D cinema glasses are pretty cheap …
    The hard part is persuading a driver to pay for something that makes everyone else safer, but not himself !
    Like the videophone ~1990, the early adopters have no one to call.
    It only pays back when it is widely-adopted.

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