To flash or not to flash?

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Steve H, 6 Apr 2010.

  1. Steve H

    Steve H Large Member

    I'm wanting to do a couple of rides in the week before I set off to work. This is going to mean riding in the dark until the sun begins to rise a bit earlier. So I've bought myself a set of lights and I've fitted them this evening. There are two settings on the lights - on and flashing.

    What setting should I be using? Are there different circumstances for both - e.g. where there is street lighting or not?


  2. Mark_Robson

    Mark_Robson Senior Member

    Wow I read the title and thought whey hey!!
    I use two sets of lights on my commuter, one set to static and one set to flash. I find that the flashing lights are a lot more effective at attracting drivers attention, probably why the emergency services use them.
    I may be wrong but I think that the law states that if you only have one set then they must be set to static.
  3. g00se

    g00se Über Member

    i think that's true about having static lights if you only have one set - but no one seems to care about that.

    Also, did you know, most lights on sale in the UK are not legal as they do not pass the appropriate British standard? I think because of the expense and small market compared globally, most companies only apply to pass the US and Euro standards.

    For me, I have one main light. If I want to be seen and there are street lights, I'll have it set to flashing. If it's really dark and I need to see where I'm going, I have it on static. And when I'm commuting from London at night, I have it set to static and I also use my backup plastic wraparound thingy on flash.

    I've also heard - but I've no idea if it's true (!?!) - that even though a flashing LED light is better to get you noticed, a static one is better for the drivers to judge your distance to them. Another argument to have two lights I suppose.

    if you're after those little backup lights, these look odd but are really, really bright:
  4. PK99

    PK99 Guru


    continuous light = see me and track my direction and speed

    flashing light = see me here........ no! here...... Hey! i'm here now... = draws attention but require continuous observation to track speed/direction

    IMO, one steady one flasher is the best option
  5. Rob3rt

    Rob3rt Man or Moose!

    The other side to that is the human eye/brain spots changes better than things that are ever present, therefore when something is flashing in your periphery you are more likely to see it than something that is ever present. If the light is flashing at a reasonable rate then tracking speed and possition shouldnt be an issue.

    Overall, if a flashing light prompts the driver to activelly observe you more closely then thats a good thing.

    Im not particularly in favour of either mode, just offering an alternative viewpoint.

    I have my front light constant and my back light flashing.
  6. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Moderator

    And if you are worried the batteries are failing then put them on flash mode ... until you can get more or recharge.
  7. PpPete

    PpPete Guru

    Chandler's Ford
  8. Goldfang

    Goldfang New Member

    I was talking to a police traffic officer about this a while ago, his angle was that, strictly speaking exept for emergency vehicles and construction vehicles, you are not supposed to display a flashing light from a moving vehicle. But according to him, as far as the police are concerned, anything that makes a cyclist more visible is fine by them. Have no idea if this official policy!
  9. psmiffy

    psmiffy -

    I use a small flashing LED sometime at dusk - however never in the dark - It just destroys my night vision
  10. The last set of lights I bought were legal according to SMART if the front light is flashing and the rear is steady. Tbh as suggested I don't the police really bother as long as you are visible. If I know I'm going to be cycling in the dark I like to go with the four light option, two front steady and flashing and two rear steady and flashing. These are sometimes supplemented depending upon the need to see/ be seen.
  11. wafflycat

    wafflycat New Member

    middle of Norfolk

    Then he needs to get up-to-date on the legislation regarding bicycle lights. Flashing lights are now/can be legal.
  12. gaz

    gaz Cycle Camera TV

    South Croydon
    During dusk i will run with my two front lights both on flashing. if it starts to get slightly darker i will put one on steady, then when a bit darker both on stready.
  13. BigSteev

    BigSteev Senior Member

    Guess it doesn't really matter what lights I'm running as my lack of pedal reflectors (or indeed, any reflectors) will make it illegal anyway.
  14. psmiffy

    psmiffy -

    I think from a legality point of view the police do not care as long as you have lights - after all - rlj, speeding, using mobile phones etc etc seem to have a low priority in the scheme of things - a lot different than 30years ago when my brother and his wife were done for not having lights - well they did almost - only had one set between them - he took the front and she took the rear and they were riding in close order -both got done
  15. jayonabike

    jayonabike Powered by caffeine & whisky

    When i go out for a night ride i have 1 light on the front on constant so i can see where i'm going, 2 lights on the back 1 on constant, the other flashing.
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