Pedal Reflectors and Godwin's Law

Just stumbled on this fascinating article.

One of Hitler’s former drivers, a part-time inventor and loyal party comrade, had started producing bicycle reflectors, to improve the visibility of riders on the roads at night. Fastening small pieces of glass to bicycle pedals that would reflect the headlights of oncoming cars. In 1936, the SS formed a joint-company with the inventor, using his name – Anton Loibl GmbH. With SS help, Loibl applied for and promptly received a patent for his bicycle reflector design. A rival inventor even had his earlier patent application quashed.

In his capacity as police chief of the Reich, Himmler then issued a new ordinance on road traffic that made the reflectors mandatory for all bicycles on German roads. The SS company would oversee the marketing of Loibl’s invention and use part of the revenue to fuel Himmler’s research projects.

Industrial producers had no choice but to pay licensing fees back to the company for the privilege of producing Loibl’s design and within the first year the Ahnenerbe received 77,740 Reichmarks from the scheme. From 1939, this would rise to between 100,000 and 150,000 Reichmarks per year. As much as financial integrity was expected from members of the SS in their personal lives, the procurement of funds through questionable, and often illegal, means was actively encouraged when it was a matter of financing the organisation.

Although the activities of the Ahnenerbe came to an abrupt end in 1945 – the section of the traffic order which relates to reflectors, introduced by Himmler, is still part of Germany’s street law for bicycles – the Straßenverkehrszulassungsordnung. Along with two sets of functioning brakes and lights for travelling at night, all riders are required to display two yellow reflectors on each wheel – pedal reflectors – one white reflector on the front of the bike and one red reflector on the rear.
 

hoopdriver

Guru
Location
East Sussex
Wow. Well, that's a bit of cycling lore I'd never heard before. Given the design of pedals today I am guessing that law is honoured more in the breach than in the observance.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Wow. Well, that's a bit of cycling lore I'd never heard before. Given the design of pedals today I am guessing that law is honoured more in the breach than in the observance.
I think it tends to be mainly clippy pedals which don't (and even some of them do), which are only used by a minority of riders and many of those bikes aren't ridden much at night.
 

Slick

Guru
I have the clippy pedals and whilst not often ridden at night, it is ridden plenty 6am of a winter's morning. I have often wondered if someone would use it as an excuse if I was ever involved in some sort of incident.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
I have often wondered if someone would use it as an excuse if I was ever involved in some sort of incident.
They might try, but if I remember the standard in civil court correctly, they'd have to show that the incident or resulting damage/injury would have been avoided by the presence of pedal reflectors, which I suspect would mean basically arguing that a driver is incompetent to see a person or animal or even a fallen tree in the road quite legally without reflectors. I doubt they could do that without being judged as having primarily caused the incident by being unfit to drive.
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
This reminds me of a rather less sinister but blindingly simple scam that happened in Nigeria when someone started a rumour that two red and white reflective stickers were mandatory on the back of every vehicle. The success of the scam lay in drivers' wish to avoid paying cash to corrupt Police who would use the absence of stickers as a reason to harass and extort. The stickers looked like a modest expenditure in comparison so millions bought a pair from street hawkers and the scammer became extremely rich almost overnight.
 
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Chris S

Guru
Location
Sparkhill
RE: "Along with two sets of functioning brakes "
Fake news? I've seen German bikes on ebay with just a rear coaster brake.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
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