Daytime Riding Lights

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The first time I saw anyone ride with lights on during the day was when I flew out to California to ride the Donut Ride with Seth Davidson.  He was using them on his bike.  Then I started noticing lots of SoCal guys using them.

No one in Kansas, that I ride with, uses them.  My initial impression was that they seemed sort of geeky.  But, maybe that has changed.  I think as they become more mainstream that it won’t seem so extreme.  And it really isn’t extreme, it is just another thing.

My bike is already bothersome with these other things.  Charging a Garmin on a daily basis is a drag.  The power meter is just there, until it isn’t.  I guess the lights are just on your bike all the time and you just have to turn them on and off, so it really isn’t that much of a hassle.  But, they must take a ton of power, so you must have to recharge them periodically.

It is amazing how bright the daytime lights can be. Even the small ones are incredibly bright.  At dusk them seem almost too bright.  But I guess they need to be too bright at night to be seen at all during the day.

I saw the results from a couple different studies that show that the lights reduce chances of collisions with cars somewhere between 19-35%.  That seems pretty significant, but you have to realize the odds of getting hit by a car is super low, so you’re just reducing a super low chance that much more.

Lots of guys out here are using them.  I did a ride on Saturday and 2 out of 5 guys had them on.  I’m not that concerned about being seen just yet.  I think to be comfortable riding on busy roads, you need to assume that everyone coming from behind sees you.  And I don’t worry about the guys in front of me.  That is my responsibility.

Anyway, maybe soon, our whole group ride will have these things on, you never know.  I think as they become more common, they become a little less effective, but that is one of the reasons construction workers keep switching from orange to yellow to reflective vests.  Whatever keeps you safer is probably better.

Bontrager has a new line of lights this year. I'd have to draw a line on using them to race. They are too bright and would make racing less safe. When I'm racing a nightime criterium and someone has a light on, it bugs me to death.

Bontrager has a new line of lights this year. I’d have to draw a line on using them to race. They are too bright and would make racing less safe. When I’m racing a nightime criterium and someone has a light on, it bugs me to death.


53 thoughts on “Daytime Riding Lights

  1. Sean YD

    I also saw these lights in use in Southern California (Calabasas) during the Axeon Hagens Berman training camp and was impressed as all heck at how visible it makes cyclists to motorists.

    I made it a point right then to get one for my rides here in Omaha, Nebraska. I don’t care what it looks like, as long as people can see me.

  2. DallasBikr

    I’ve started using them more and more during the day, in High power, flashing mode…I live in the country and Bubba needs as warning as possible to not hit me with his dually and horse trailer 🙂

  3. Dan Fox

    I’ve been using front and back daytime running lights — BRIGHT ONES — for years. The headlight is more important than taillight. I have found it stops people at intersections who were rolling into the intersection clearly planning to pull right out into me. I believe there is a subconscious recognition that a light means “something is coming” that does not register with just person on a bike (“I didn’t see him”), and registers more quickly than actual recognition of a cyclist.

    I have motorists highbeam me coming the other way because they don’t like my bright lights — “Thanks for noticing.”

    It is geeky … but c’mon … you are already a cyclist

  4. Telford

    I used to laugh at people that rode with the little blinky lights in the daytime. Then in 2013, I got hit from behind by a car going 60 mph and it knocked me out of commission for six months. Shortly after that, I saw a guy riding about ÂĽ mile ahead of me with one of the lights. I was amazed at how bright it was at that distance even in daylight. I wanted to avoid a repeat of the accident so I gave the lights a try. IMHO, it seems like cars are more aware of me and give me more right of way when I have the lights on. I have noticed a difference. The flashers are LEDs and use very little power. I’d estimate the rechargeable batteries go about 15-hours on a charge. I throw them on the charger once a week. I’d rather look like a geek than suffer more broken bones.

  5. Ty Trammell

    I’ve been using them in KC and when I lived in Louisiana for the past few years. I’ve had a care pull up and appreciate the lights.

  6. scott

    they’re not totally uncommon here in the northeast, particularly in the winter when riders already have their lights attached. i’ve always assumed those guys had turned them on instinctively, thinking it would be twilight “soon”. me, on the other hand, can’t wait to take the lights off completely.

  7. RGTR

    N=1 – commuting experience:

    I ride a chinese knockoff lamp on the bars for me to see and a L&M (Light and Motion) helmet dual setup front/back along with a L&M taillight mounted to the seat post. I never use to run anything but a cheap ass taillight. I kept having issues with the damn cars pulling out in front of me. Then I nearly got T-boned by a fucking douchebag mobile (hummer H2). That’s when I lit myself up like a christmas tree. I’m AMAZED how much respect I get in traffic now.

    Not only that, I also run a mirror because I have this little nagging sensation when cars are flying by. Everytime they would pass I feel grateful I didn’t end up airborne launched off someone’s windshield. Now that I can see back there, I have escape routes pre-planned in my head when I see that rush of cars coming. I also find places to bail out until the traffic clears. Got tired of rolling the dice not-in-my-favor.

    All I run in group rides is the taillight though. I lose all the other shit.

  8. Jeff Shein

    I encourage our entire junior team to use the lights when training. We got a sponsorship from NiteRider and they supplied lights to us. They even put a photo of us in their 2016 brochure! We are visible and (hopefully) safer out there.

  9. chiefhiawatha

    I have a handful of these little guys, they weigh nothing whatsoever, take CR2032 batteries, are cheap, and the different colors attract attention like no other. Weigh so little you can clip to top of sock and not notice, jersey, whatever. $10. Can be set to solid or flashing and runtime on the dual CR2032 is essentially a season.

    We are seeing it more and more in Chicago. We know of a few guys who were hit from behind in broad daylight. That’ll make you rethink things.

  10. Rob Wilshusen

    Seeing quite a few people with lights on our group rides here in Lawrence. They certainly get motorists attention. I have a small one in front that is much smaller that my Garmin computer. I set it to flash mode along with one in the rear flashing. Quite a few people started using lights regularly after Glenda got hit. It does amaze me how motorists react at intersections or while passing on the streets of Lawrence. No doubt in my mind they make a big difference.

  11. john rezell

    Here in Oregon we have a lot of days that are dark and dreary. It’s great for safety, for sure. But just imagine if everyone always had their lights on while riding a bike. It is a subtle way to help driver’s realized we are out there. A lot of us are out there, day and night. Besides, how many drivers have your had an incident with that you thought, “What?! Do I need flashing lights to let you know I’m here!?!”

  12. Aki

    I haven’t trained outdoors in forever, but when I do I use a Planet Bike Superflash. They’re bright enough that I prefer not to use them when riding with another rider. “Them” is correct – I have two mounted on my post, I point them in very slightly different directions, one is more like eye level to a driver, the other is bit lower.

    They use AAA batteries, I use rechargeables, and you can change the battery easily.

    In the summer I think they’d be useful in alternating sun/shadow kind of areas, or deep shade, where drivers may be using sunglasses and they’re not going to remove them for every bunch of trees along the route.

    I don’t have a front light of any kind during the day.

  13. scrapper

    have you ever heard of the Hurt Study?

    It was for moto’s but the biggest finding was that most car accidents with moto’s was due to the car not seeing the moto. Lights help people see you a lot. Why do you think the DRLs automatically come on with new cars and moto’s. Loud pipe’s don’t save lives, lights save lives.

  14. Ray. Rohm

    Belong to Westchester cycle club New York a lot of riders ride with lights during day time. Not a club requirement. Yet. Is distracting following others

  15. Ken

    I’ve been riding with a flashing tail light for years and I absolutely believe it makes me more visible to distracted drivers. I want them to see me at some point before they get to me and I am confident the light gets their attention. Texting has made drivers more dangerous and if I can get them to notice me 30-40 seconds before they get to me or see me just before they were about to start texting, it’s worth it. I’m so glad to see so many replies along the same lines.

  16. jeff

    I ain’t using them… that’s stupidity… we have so much protection now that people have turned brain dead to using their brain. Plan your route well to avoid traffic is key. And, bike defensively..
    I ain’t going to start to wear air bags and padded shorts etc…
    social engineering is alive and well in america that’s for sure.

    what ever happened to these times –

    where one just goes out and rides without a care in the world. Sure, you have to be aware of your surroundings and be defensive. But, there are risks with everything.

  17. Jeff Cozad

    On my daily com mutter, I run a dyno hub and very bright front and rear led lights. That’s largely because I ride into the office before the sun is up, but they stay on as DRL’s for the ride home.

  18. chiefhiawatha

    Long as there is talk of lighting, we do tons of early AM riding in our area (chicago suburb), and these things are good to indicate to cars if you’re turning when positioned around a wrist. Green by far the brightest.

  19. Randy Legeai

    I do a lot of weekday group training rides that start in the dark. Within the past year or so, some of the tail lights people are using are way too bright for group rides. A number of times I’ve dropped back to find a different wheel because the one I was on was literally blinding me. On the plus side, I have noticed that some of the newer lights actually have a “group ride” setting that isn’t so bright to blind everyone behind. Anyway, I have a light on the seatpost pretty much full-time from fall through spring, so I wouldn’t hesitate to use a super bright light during the day if it was already there anyway and used a rechargeable battery. Couldn’t hurt.

  20. Seth Davidson

    They are actually a hassle because if you ride much they run down after one or two rides. They are a pain because of the occasional mounting problems, and especially if your race bike is your training bike, you have take them off and on along with the mounts.

    Another problem is that the taillights are so bright now that if you’re behind one and hunkered down on the drops it can almost blind you.

    The plus for me has mostly been the super bright flashing headlight that seems to make drivers stop who are thinking about pulling out from a driveway or whipping a u-turn or turning in front of you. It seems to really grab drivers’ attention in congested areas like LA.

    We do an early morning Thursday ride and having 6-7 super bright red taillights when the sun isn’t yet up makes the whole group visible.

    Fortunately, I don’t have a Garmin or a power meter, so it’s the only thing I have to keep powered up.

  21. The Cyclist

    Do these lights make car drivers stop playing with their iPhones?
    And has anyone tried to sue Apple or Samsung for killing cyclists yet?

  22. Roger Lomshek

    I run one now at all times on my bike and encourage folks to do the same. The best are visible from 1/4 – 1/2 mile in sunny conditions. If it gives the usual texting doofus an extra few glances up to notice me so much the better.
    Thus far the best I’ve tried in direct comparisons is the Bontrager Flare R. It’s claimed lumens is 65 (compared to 80 for the Cygolite Hotshot 80) but the Bontrager’s beam spread is much less sensitive to perfect alignment and seemed every bit as bright as the Cygolite in spite of the 15 lumen claimed difference.
    If some jackass is doing the usual texting and glancing at the road once every ten seconds to stay between the lines these lights give us a much better chance of being noticed in time for said jackasses to avoid us.

  23. dave

    Okay Steve, thanks for bringing up this topic. I’ve been in biking for 40 years and while it took a while, I finally adopted several things for safety in the past ten to twelve years. I agree that lights for twilight/dark conditions are great but for regular daytime hours I’ve found nothing beats a bright fluorescent top( bike jersey, breathable sport T-shirt, worksite vest). They are highly visible from all directions and provide a large area of color that can be seen from a far distance. Also, mirrors. Particularly the round “3rd Eye” mirror. It’s glass and it’s flat and it has a rubber expander insert into your left handlebar end that gives a nice clear image with NO vibration. Just like a motorcycle mirror. They rotate up or down and are installed and removed easily. Every bike should have one, every rider should at least try one. You always know what’s behind you. And of course, a helmet. P.S. – I wonder if this trend for more lighting, especially for daytime, might come from the trend for more black(helmets, jerseys, socks, and bikes) that riders have become less visible, so now they need the lights! Try out the various neon tops (and socks), they work great and you won’t blind fellow riders in the daytime.

  24. James

    A cyclist calling something “geeky” is well pretty geeky. Its not 1980 anymore bro, everyone’s on the phone & they don’t give a shit. Plus there are 1000s more & they didn’t get that wonderful
    HS drivers ed we did. Give ’em something to help them look up? If a $20 light keeps me on the road & riding, call me geek #1.

  25. Joe C

    Crazy oilfield traffic and unlicensed drivers here, I don’t leave home without a 2 watt blinky.

  26. Kasey

    I’ve observed this behavior as well. I typically ride in the AM and by the end of my ride have no technical us for the lights as it is now bright enough, but I leave them on anyways. I’ve noticed that people at intersection actions do tend to hang back. A bit more with the lights on versus off.

  27. Dave K.

    I’ve used a L&M Viz180 Micro on every day ride for the past two years–45 lumens. I just picked up one of the new Bontrager Flares–65 lumens. It’s incredibly brighter than the L&M.

    I would love it if all drivers were careful, but I have to accept the reality that they aren’t and they won’t be, so whatever I can do to improve my chances gets a thumbs up. I also wear the most colorful kit I can find–the Aqua & Sapone wild zebra stripes are a favorite. I don’t give a crap what people think of me as long as they see me and don’t hit me.

    I know for some people these lights are yet another bother, but I also though the helmets I wore since 1985 were a bother–until I crashed in 2010. Fractured C4, concussion, sprained shoulder, lost part of my right ear. The doctor told me if I wasn’t wearing a helmet I’d be dead–100% guaranteed. That really makes you think. I’ll use the little red light–and the helmet and weird kit, thanks.

  28. Eric Vacek

    Been using front/rear day/night flashers for a year now. I can’t tell you how many drivers roll down their windows as they pass me & say “thank you.” Drivers love the lights because they can see me so much better day or night. Piece of mind for me for sure. City, gravel or highway they are gonna be on my bike & flashing. Talked all my riding buddies into them as well. Their wives were more than happy to get them for their husbands for a xmas gift.

  29. Eric Vacek

    I also think that while it’s not a guarantee that one won’t get hit with flashing day/night lights, it would be hard for a driver to explain that they didn’t see me if they do hit me. The driver is then much more likely to be prosecuted. What got me to start a year ago running the lights is that about 5 cyclists were hit & seriously injured or killed in a few month span on the roads I ride here in Lincoln, NE. Only one of the drivers was prosecuted with anything resembling a penalty. It was almost like it was okay to run over cyclists if you had the excuse you didn’t see them. My neighbor almost ran me over in my neighborhood also, so for $80 enter Cygolite 550/rear flasher combo.

  30. daveeckstrom

    This is why I bought myself a Bontrager Flare R and will be sporting it on every ride from now on. Just go to a county highway and sit off in the weeds or woods out of sight and count the percentage of drivers going by at 60 mph with their heads down and eyes glued to their screens. I have done this 5 times and averaged 68 out of every 100. They only look up for the minimal amount of time to determine if there is a vehicle ahead within closing distance…certainly not enough time for their eyes to focus on a cyclist off to the side blending in to the trees. I’m hoping that the super bright flash and the random-ish pattern will catch their attention and let them know that I’m there in the half-second they look up.

    Last week I was driving behind a teenage girl (they’re the worst–I kind of expect to die on my bike at the hands of a teenage girl) who was staring at her phone for the 27 miles I followed her. The two-lane highway had a rumble strip at the shoulder and the centerline and she was apparently using the vibrations as a navigation system, because she almost never looked up and constantly wove back and forth between the two rumble strips. Unfortunately, no light will save me from that.

  31. Benjamin Kruger

    While I agree that you should ride (and drive) defensively, expecting the cars in front of you to do the unexpected, a little high-lumen offense seems to make a big difference on my rides.

    Cars (and pedestrians) seem to notice me sooner, and give me a wider berth. And it’s far rarer that I find myself having to give up the right of way because I’m unseen… Which means I don’t have to bleed off my hard earned speed (and as I’m rather new to this, my speed doesn’t come easily).

    So I got the lights for safety, but their biggest benefit to me is convenience.

  32. Andy

    5 years ago no one here in Tyler Texas was running lights during the day. Now it is commonplace. In fact if I see someone not running a day time light I encourage them to get one. They are cheap and very effective. I have 2 on the back plus a camera with a light. Start running one Steve and you will see a lot more people emulate what you are doing. It’s just part of our culture now. I guess it’s like helmets used to be years ago.

    Btw. I do not race with them. NOW that would be dorky:)

  33. Steven Scharf

    It’s not just the fact that you are much more conspicuous with DRLs, it’s that it’s more pleasant to ride with them.

    What I have observed is that that vehicles are much less likely to make a left turn across your path or exit a parking lot in your path. You are able to ride faster and have to take fewer evasive actions.

    You charge your phone every night, charging your lights every night is no big deal. Unfortunately, very few dynamo lights have a daytime flash mode because they are designed to be legal in Germany which does not allow flashing DRLs.

    The most common excuse given by drivers when they hit a cyclist is “I just didn’t see him.” With a flashing DRL, that excuse goes away. And as a driver as well a a cyclist, I have to admit that it often is hard to see cyclists.

  34. Scott Bulfinch

    I had never seen this here in Nebraska until last year. Now it seems at least a third of the folks on group rides are sporting them at all hours. Haven’t seen them in a mass start race, but note that the pic you show is of a racer in a wet TT. Riding a TT without lights last year I heard squealing tires behind me and realized that I must have been noticed just in time. Don’t know if a light would have saved Glenda Taylor, but you never know; who would have thought that there was any cycling safer than a rural TT. I for one went out and got one of those Bontrager flashers the next week, and now use it on every ride.

  35. DJ

    I’ve been using a rear blinky light for years. Last year I was a victim of a hit and run from a cowardly driver. Now I have supplemented that with a large 10 inch neon safety yield triangle hanging from my jersey pocket. Another precaution I’ve used sewing on a reflective neon strip on the back of my shoes. I’ve seen it from a drivers vantage point and the up and down motion adds dramatically to the high visibility factor.

  36. Chris Conley

    Steve, I encourage you to check out Dinotte [“Quad Red” @ 200 lumens, or “400R” @ 240 lumens] REAR daytime lights.

    Quite simply, they are unbelievably bright. Makes the Planet Bike Superflash, Bontrager Flare R or Serfas Thunderbolt look dim by comparison. (I own those as well, and use one of them on night rides. They are around 40-60 lumens. Not enough to be well noticed in the bright sunshine here in TX.)

    Now for nighttime use, those above mentioned lights are very appropriate. The Dinotte lights are specifically designed for daytime use. In fact they are too bright / distracting to use as night.

    Since I started using the Dinotte 400R, I have gotten A LOT more respect from drivers. They ALL slow down and give more than 3 feet. It’s simply changed the way I ride. I’m so much safer now, it’s very obvious to me.

    You can take away my power meter, carbon wheels and all that, but I won’t go on a road ride without my Dinotte. The safety it provides is that important to me now. You have to see a Dinotte to believe it. I know this sounds so much like an advertisement, but I’m just being honest.

    Too many people in my city have been run over by drivers who say “I never saw them”.

    I’m going to do everything in my power to try and not have that happen to me. Stay safe and stay visible. Chris Conley

  37. dave

    Chris, if you haven’t been using a mirror, try the “3rd Eye” handlebar mirror. It works great. Easy on, easy off, adjustable, clear accurate image, and NO vibration. Just like a motorcycle mirror. You always know what’s behind you with just a quick look down. Makes for a better rider. After all, you wouldn’t ride a motorcycle without mirrors, bicycles should have them too! When you’ve ridden with one for a while, and then not for once, you will miss it. Your bike will seem incomplete without it. Be it around on city streets, bike paths, or out on the open road, I always have that “3rd Eye” mirror in the handlebar end!

  38. Fsonicsmith

    “I also think that while it’s not a guarantee that one won’t get hit with flashing day/night lights, it would be hard for a driver to explain that they didn’t see me if they do hit me. The driver is then much more likely to be prosecuted. ”

    Couldn’t agree more. I say that as a lawyer. Jurors and judges are prejudiced to some degree against cyclists (and motorcyclists) that they are not easy to see or discern. That blinking light may not only save your life, but if you are merely injured it will help you when the motorist tries to claim that they could not see you. I used to feel that riders using blinkies in daylight were among the ultimate dorks. Not any longer. It’s being smart. Now as to guys in crits on a closed course using them at night-they are still dorks.

  39. SB

    Every bit of safety equipment helps. I want my insurance company and family’s lawyers to have a very strong civil or criminal case against any negligent driver that hits me.

    Related topic – night riding – so many riders wear all black and have a single weak blinky… they are just asking to get hit. I’ve recently started wearing reflective shoe covers, gloves, vest and legwarmers at night; they are super bright white and I have had drivers come to a complete stop because of how bright these things are. If you ride at night there is no reason not to cover yourself in as much reflective gear as possible. Shop around for “Proviz” brand, Castelli and Nike also make some, or google for 3M reflective clothing.

  40. Fred Conner

    You wrote ” I think to be comfortable riding on busy roads, you need to assume that everyone coming from behind sees you.” That is a terrible assumption. There are more distracted drivers on the road today than ever before. The lights will help, but even better is a rear-view mirror that the cyclist checks constantly.

  41. SteveP

    “I think as they become more common, they become a little less effective”

    It’s not about being “different”

    Consider that a common cause of accidents is “sorry – I didn’t see you”.

    Consider that a rider passing from bright sun into a shady section of road becomes invisible.

    Consider that cyclists cycling into a setting sun are invisible to drivers coming towrd them (or, if going the other way, to drivers coming up behind them).

    Consider using two lights in daytime

  42. Charles Dostale

    Things have come a long way. When I first started riding seriously, the club I joined had jerseys that were grey with a light blue band around the chest. The colors were specifically chosen so if you were in a breakaway you would be hard to see from the pack. As the club membership expanded, more non-competitive cyclists wanted a jersey that was easier to see by motorists. The jersey was changed to bright red with black side panels.

    Personally I think the best thing for the safety of cyclist would be for car driver education to require a week of class time riding a bike on roads. You learn defensive driving in a hurry, and perhaps motorist would have a bit more respect for cyclists.

    I hate lights with CR2032 batteries – the batteries are too expensive and difficult / expensive to find rechargeable ones. Make sure you properly recycle any batteries you use – pretty soon landfills will be even more toxic than they are now, and drinking water will taste like – you guessed it – battery acid.


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