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Lights and darkness

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by Plax, 16 May 2008.

  1. Plax

    Plax Veteran

    Location:
    Wales
    What time does it start to get dark enough to warrant putting lights on nowadays?

    I've taken all the lights off my bike as its always light on my commute now, but I have to dog sit this weekend and am thinking of setting off in a couple of hours (7pm ish when it is still light out, but on it's way to getting dark) on the bicycle, rather than drive.
    Would it be worth maybe just clipping a light to the rucksack and putting my helmet light back on? Don't think I can be bothered to dig the 10w and 5w rechargeable lights out (and they'll probably have gone flat by now).
     
  2. palinurus

    palinurus Guru

    Location:
    Watford
    I left the evening time trial this week at about 8:30 and it was getting dusky enough for lights then (but it was overcast anyway).
     
  3. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    Location:
    South Manchester
    Yep go with 8.30 as I had to leave the cross racing about then this week for a 2 mile ride home.
     
  4. MERV

    MERV New Member

    Location:
    The Mile End Road
    My lights stay on the bike all year long....430am commute tomorrow.
     
  5. Mister Paul

    Mister Paul Honky

    Location:
    North Somerset
    It depends where you live. The south gets dark a fair while before the north.

    The Birmingham Evening Mail used to quote lighting-up time in the stop-press on the back page every day.
     
  6. Plax

    Plax Veteran

    Location:
    Wales
    I'll stick my cateye 450 and my 1/2 watt smart in the rucksack I think. They don't take up much room and I can stick the 450 to the helmet (left the mounting on), and clip the Smart to the rucksack if necessary. Doesn't really start to get dark here till towards 8.30-9pm so I should get there before then, usually takes me under an hour to get there.
     
  7. MERV

    MERV New Member

    Location:
    The Mile End Road
    Oh yeah and sometimes I finish at midnight.
     
  8. Plax

    Plax Veteran

    Location:
    Wales
    Well I made it. Didn't need the lights in the end. Got here before 8pm and it was still light out. Thought I did quite well today, 13.50 miles in 45:30 with an average speed of 17.8 mph. To think that it used to take me more than that time just to do 8 miles when I first started - eek!
     
  9. Mister Paul

    Mister Paul Honky

    Location:
    North Somerset
  10. Cunobelin

    Cunobelin Legendary Member

    Location:
    Gosport
    Not entirely the last word though......as pointed out in the answer!

    I have a colleague who commuted from Hayling on the ferry, and used her lights on Hayling, but to conserve battery life she used to leave them off after the ferry crossing as this coincided with sunrise, and the need to have lights.

    She was picked up by a Police Officer checking lights on cycles and pulled up all 6 as they cycled off form the Portsmouth side.

    My colleague forcefully asked why as the lighting up time had been observed and there was no "Legal" requirement. His reply was "I think visibility is reduced" and issued her a fine.

    Apparently that was the point - it came down to proving whose definition of "reduced visibility" a hearing would settle on - try proving how bright it was on a particular morning last week!
     
  11. threefingerjoe

    threefingerjoe Über Member

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    As a matter of safety, I prefer to use the lights whenever there is ANY doubt. I'll run them in the daylight, in cloudy or rainy weather. It isn't always a matter of seeing...it's often to BE SEEN.

    Some of the worst visibility problems occur just at dawn or dusk. Many vehicle drivers will turn off (or fail to turn on) their lights, because they think, "I can SEE well enough". But, observe the passing traffic, and you'll notice how much BETTER you can see the lit cars vs. the cars without lights, ESPECIALLY in the MIRROR.

    Once, on an early-morning commute, I was riding on the right side of the road (I live in the USA) and a car facing me with lights turned ON was parked at the curb on the left...narrow residential street. No problem, so far. BUT, as I approached, an oncoming car with NO LIGHTS moved into the center of the road, to pass the parked car. I realized at the last moment, that a dark car was coming RIGHT AT ME. Had his lights been on, I'd have seen him MUCH sooner.

    When in doubt, use the lights. Batteries are cheap, compared to the price of a traffic accident. Do everything you can to BE SEEN.
     
  12. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London
    What's with all the SHOUTING?
     
  13. threefingerjoe

    threefingerjoe Über Member

    Location:
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Sorry, Bent.
    I don't really mean it as "shouting"...just a way to emphasize certain words. Sort of emulating speech pattern. Didn't mean any harm by it.
     
  14. Plax

    Plax Veteran

    Location:
    Wales
    Right, I'm thinking of cycling home after 9pm. It'll be just under the 8 mile mark (so prob take me about 30-40ish mins home uphill I'd say at a max) Will I be okay with my Cateye EL-450 on my helmet, and my Smart 1/2 watt on the rear rack? It's that inbetweeny kind of time again. I don't think it'll be dark enough to warrant pulling out my proper front lights, and my Smart is one of my main rear lights anyway.
     
  15. frog

    frog Guest

    It's difficult to pin this down to a 'time' when to put lights on. You can have three consecutive days, first clear blue skies, second, scattered cloud, third completely overcast, cycling at the same time each evening. On the first you wouldn't even think about a light, the second you might think about it half way home and the third you'd switch them on without giving it a thought.

    I have the lights fitted to the bike all year round. The front is a dynamo so that stays on all the time. The rear I take a look at the shadows and make a decision based on that. I find if I can see into a shadow cast by trees and buildings then I'm pretty safe leaving the back off. If the sun is going to go down between the start and end of the ride then the lights go on, same if it looks like rain.

    Also, you have to take into account the other road users. Their perception of speed and distance goes as the light fails. Also, you get a different type of lunatic at normal commute times and in the early evening. Anything which makes the buggers drive around you as opposed to over you has to be good.