We’ll keep the light on for ya

January 15, 2014 § 81 Comments

I was pedaling along Anza. This lady passed me so close I could smell her moist panties even though the windows to her SUV were shut tight.

“Fuck,” I thought, wondering if Sherri Foxworthy would be angry because it had taken two full sentences to launch the f-bomb. “That was closer than a porn star’s razor.”

The real problem, aside from being insane-as-proven-by-the-decision-to-ride-a-bike-to-work, was clear. How can I keep the murderers and negligent-homiciders from plowing me under?

Hundreds of commutes had given me the knowledge to classify cagers as follows:

  1. Scumfucks who intentionally want to kill me.
  2. Dumbfucks who don’t know I’m there.
  3. Law enforcement.
  4. Babes who think I’m hot.

The fact is that Scumfucks Who Intentionally Want to Kill Me have the upper hand and can’t be denied. So when my number is up, I hope you’ll attend my funeral and NOT say anything sappy like “He died doing what he loved.” Instead, I hope you’ll be profoundly drunk and barf on the curb, apologizing for your bad manners. Law Enforcement are similarly irrelevant. They have guns and handcuffs and radios. Whatever they do, even if it involves murdering innocent homeless people in Fullerton, gets a pass. Babes Who Think I’m Hot currently number approximately one, and that’s a generous estimate.

So that leaves us with Dumbfucks Who Don’t Know I’m There.

“Yo, Dumbfucks Who Don’t Know I’m There!” I thought. How can I let you know I’m there?

The answer, like full frontal nudity, was right in front of me: Lights!

The guinea pig is me

I once had pet guinea pigs, Uncle Albert and Admiral Halsey. They were awesome and smart and cuddly and they squeaked for dinner. They also pooped little oblong guinea pig poops, which didn’t stink and were easily cleaned. Anyone who would experiment on these harmless and loving creatures is a complete fucking douchebag. When it comes to cycling, however, I decided to try a new technique to ward off the Dumbfucks Who Don’t Know I’m There. How? By running my front Serfas 500 on “blinky” mode, and my rear Serfas taillight on “blinky” mode DURING THE DAY.

Guess what, wankers? When the average cager is faced with blinking lights … he/she backs off!

That’s right. If you run your front blinky during the day you will find that cagers hesitate before darting out in front of you, give you the right of way, and if you’re not too big of an asshole to smile and wave, they will smile and wave back. Then, the rear-approaching cagers, upon seeing your rear taillight, will give you a wide berth or, because they know how to drive, will buzz the shit out of you but do it consciously — you’re in no danger because they see you and know the dimensions of their cage and aren’t about to run you over.

In short, run your fuggin’ headlamp and taillight during the day. The morons will see you and give you a wide berth when they pass, or they will buzz the shit out of you BUT WILL HAVE SEEN YOU AND KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING.

Keep the lights on. Really. It will save your life, or at least get you to the next cold beer.

This PSA brought to you by Port Brewing’s Wipeout IPA. And me.

Tagged: , ,

§ 81 Responses to We’ll keep the light on for ya

  • Winemaker says:

    Went to the Fullerton Train Station and metro center today,….stopped by the memorial…flowers and candles and the memory of one dead guy, courtesy of your local law enforcement.

    • fsethd says:

      He deserved to be brutally killed because he didn’t have a home. Right?

      • Frank says:

        No, he deserved to be brutally beaten to death because he is a fooking poor person with no job, mental problems and no home!

        This was Reagans vision for weeding out the weak!!!

        • fsethd says:

          Kill them if they can’t take a joke, kill them if they’re texting during your movie, kill them if they’re homeless, kill them if you think you might be afraid.

      • Winemaker says:

        @Frank-be careful about the Reagan assignation….if you review the history, you will find he was staunchly FOR keeping state mental illness institutions open…the laws passed, the hospitals closed, the patients were released, and the SCOTUS upheld the laws…and now we have thousands of people roaming the streets who seriously need our help, and they meet all kinds of terrible fates because they are out there, in the crosshairs, 24/7.

      • Winemaker says:

        @Magoo – No, you only just ‘implied’ Kelly Thomas was a criminal douchebag. I think it is obvious that my comment of “courtesy of your local law enforcement” was tongue in cheek, but you may not have inferred that…in any case, the man is dead, and despite the testimony, the verdict, and the lawyers’ statements — we can all see and hear what happened, and come to our own conclusions. That;s the reality of modern technology. And, JICYWTN, I am very much a supporter of law enforcement…but I can also call a spade a spade.Those cops are killers.

    • Magoo says:

      Winemaker….that’s nice you went to Fullerton. Please also stop by the cemetary in Torrance where Deputy David Powell is buried. He is a former Torrance resident who was shot to death while trying to protect the citizens of Artesia. He left behind a wife and kids, courtesy of a douchebag.

      • Hwy. 39 is on fire says:

        Kelly Thomas wasn’t some criminal douchebag (and even they have rights). He was a mentally ill, unarmed, homeless man who was killed by two police officers.

        Cops do a tough job that the vast majority of us do not want to do. But let’s not pretend that they are all saints or infallible. There are plenty of dirty cops that disgrace the badge and deputies like David Powell. Unfortunately, there are too few cops, prosecutors and juries willing to weed out the bad apples.

      • magoo says:

        Also agree. There are bad apples in every profession. Doctors, lawyers, cops, you name it. Some are that way when they are hired, some turn into that along the way. No matter. They need to go. Simply painting an entire profession with the same brush with a statement like “courtesy of your local law enforcement” just rubbed me the wrong way.

        As for Kelly Thomas, I never said he was a criminal douchebag. I also don’t know the history of any of the cops involved. Maybe they were bad, maybe this was an incident that spun horribly out of control as it progressed. Did they intend to kill him? I doubt that very highly. Did their actions rise to criminal activity? I don’t know. I will say one thing for sure: If cops don’t receive more training on dealing with the mentally ill, you will see a repeat of this. No doubt.

  • Peter Schindler says:

    I think you are on to something. Running with lights all the time, especially when riding alone is a good idea.

    • fsethd says:

      Works for me, Peter.

    • Tom says:

      Riding solo, I’m often using my 1 watt “Turbo Super Blinky” tail light. Can’t hurt & may help.

      I should probably consider a daytime headlamp, too. “Daylight Running Lamps” (DRL) on cars became a standard feature some 15 yrs ago, IIRC the results of a long-term evaluation in Canada showed DRL improve awareness & lowered collision rates.

      I’ve read some articles claiming a DUI moron may actually zero in on your taillight and focus on it to the exclusion of all else — leading to an _increased_ risk of them hitting you. Since most DUI motorists are driving late at night, when I never cycle anyway, I figure the odds are in my favor.

      • fsethd says:

        Yeah, although I ride at night, the DUI’s are just as likely to plow over you because they didn’t see you.

  • Marty says:

    I love you!

  • Dan says:

    Yep. I always ride with full blinkers, except when I’m with a group. If a car hits the group, we are all screwed. But at least witnesses.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    Sunset: happy hour, scratched/dirty windshields, leftover workday stress, beginning of the evening routine (spouse, children, etc.)
    Light ’em up!
    btw, I have one of those fluorescent lime green riding jackets that was a special present. I figure it saved my life at least a few times on the Wed. Night “Tour of the Inner Loop” (aka Planetary Ride) in Houston. It’s my Turkey Jacket.
    Gobble gobble! Made you miss!

  • East Coast baby seal says:

    I’ve been riding double blinkin’ lights since I decided to try the skinny tires a few years ago. I figure if they’re gonna kill me they should do it because they’re tormented by that damn blinkin’ light, not because they can convince themselves they didn’t see me.

    Oh, and I’m going into Turner withdrawal! Kick that prose ‘bot will you?

    • fsethd says:

      I will feed the Prosebot some key words next week. Do you run blinking headlights as well as taillights? I found that the headlight actually causes motorists turning in front of me to yield.

      • East Coast baby seal says:

        I run front and back, although the front is not the attention grabber that the back is. I ride on a mix of rural and light-medium New England suburban roads, so cross traffic isn’t as much of a problem as in your more urban setting. I’m much more worried about the driver who’s zoned out on that long country road not seeing me at all.

        That said, the low evening sun during the after work rides has me thinking of a brighter front.

  • Hwy. 39 says:

    It’s been a rough, er, real easy week for LEO’s in SoCal. Just today our fine LA County DA’s office declined to charge Torrance officer Brian McGee for shooting an innocent citizen during the Christopher Dorner saga. Torrance’s finest mistook a short white guy for a rather large, roid raging (allegedly), African American. The DA said that McGee was “extremely anxious” and “reasonably believed” the short white guy to be Dorner.

    Meanwhile, it’s been over five weeks since Deputy Andrew Wood ran over an killed former napster exec Milton Olin, who had the temerity to ride his bike in a bike lane in broad daylight. Unsurprisingly, the Sheriff’s department has not completed its investigation. According to the Times, the pace of the investigation has fueled conspiracy theories about possible cover-ups. Vegas is refusing to take bets that Deputy Wood will face charges, saying nobody would be stupid enough to wager that the LA County DA’s office would actually file charges.

    Dinotte 300R. Don’t balk at the price. Just buy it. It is possibly the most visible tail light during broad daylight. Nothing else even comes close. It can be seen for miles.

    • Frank says:

      I read Olin committed suicide by riding in front of Wood.

      • fsethd says:

        Something like that. Perhaps the officer was reasonably afraid for his life and acted in justifiable self defense.

    • fsethd says:

      We live in a police state, didn’t you get the memo? 1984 and the Gulag Archipelago were far too gentle in their outlook.

      I’ll look at the Dinotte. Is it brighter than the Serfas taillight I use that gives people retinal burns?

      • Hwy. 39 says:

        The most powerful Serfas rear I saw maxed out at 80 lumens. The Dinotte 300R is 150 lumens. In the flash modes, there is still enough run time for my slow, lard-ass to complete a century.

        I’m still looking for a good front flasher. Any suggestions? Unfortunately, Dinotte only makes front lights with external battery packs. I want something self-contained and USB chargeable.

      • Uncle Jam's Army says:

        I’ll vouch for the Dinotte 300R. It was so bright, I saw spots for 10 minutes when I was toggling through the different modes the first time I used it. Note, however, it does not work with aero seatposts or some unique seatstays like my Scott Foil. The owner, Rob, was really cool and let me return it for a refund.

      • Uncle Jam's Army says:

        Hwy 39, take a look at the Exposure Toro MK5. 1200 lumens. I have the discontinued MK3 (975 lumens) and even that is overkill for the road (but great for trail). For something a little tamer and less expensive, take a look at the Exposure AXIS (550 lumens).

  • Erik MacDonald says:

    Um, can I also make a comment on the current trend of wearing black jerseys and jackets and how black is less than really visible during twilight periods and how that fact alone makes it kind of a dumb trend for staying alive-oriented boys and girls on bikes? No? Okay, I won’t. But I could.

  • Cesar says:

    I’ve followed your blog for just a short while and I could never quite pinpoint why I enjoy your articles. Was it the humor, or the brash style, or the interesting topic? Yes, but…,,,

    Having read this article, I came to understand why. It’s because you’ve got unimpeachably excellent taste in music. That is, assuming you named your guinea pigs yourself.

    • fsethd says:

      I was four or five, so the names were actually chosen by dad. But I loved those guinea pigs and they lived to be ten. They would squeak when dad came home from work because he always gave them a carrot as a snack.

  • As a long distance cyclist – one who rides her bike for 24 + more hours at a time, I can say that lights make a huge difference (running day lights and of course at night). Yes, it’s definitely possible that you can still be mowed over by idiots behind the wheel, and please don’t fall into the mindset that just cuz you’re running lights, you are somehow invincible… BUT! WM’s correct, bein seen makes your chances better of living to ride another day.

    Wanky, your SPY team may need to rethink that killer new kit to see if it’s reflective enough. Got enough neon green in it or that bright orange? Or, maybe the team can invest in some reflective ankle bands – the up and down motion is enough to get a driver’s attention. And the stooge factor is high!

    • fsethd says:

      There’s a study somewhere saying reflective stuff doesn’t work, probably next to the one saying that beer is good for you.

      Anyway, lights during the day really alter motorist behavior. One pal who’s a DUI lawyer claims that flashing red lights are drunk-driver magnets. Fuck it, you just can’t win.

      • Tom says:

        As a teenager, I was parked well off the road (15-20 ft) in PV, on the shoulder, one night. As I recall, there were some pretty wide dirt shoulders on PV Drives West & South back then.

        My car’s parking lights were ON.

        A car with a couple of DUI teenagers rear ended me while I was parked … when their door opened, I almost choked on the clouds of marijuana smoke wafting out.

        I’m pretty sure they hit me because their pea-brains targeted onto my taillights, in the otherwise very dark night.

  • egweeley says:

    I rarely apologize when profoundly drunk, however, I’m with ECoastbseal…need more Turner. Sorry.

  • Jeff Cozad says:

    On my commutting rig, I’m running the SuperNova E3 Pro for head/tail lights and a Son-Schmitt generator hub for the power source. I decided long ago that was better off just leaving them on full time. Seems to work for me.

  • Cliff Schultz says:

    It took me months of mental wrangling to come to grips with the fact that two lights wouldn’t add too much weight or ruin the look of my svelte road machine. The decision was made when one more moron tried to make me a new blood colored sticker on his pickup truck door. My machine still weighs 5# less than my commuter.

    • fsethd says:

      All lights, all the time. Anyone with expensive wheels and cheap lights might want to try and parse that rationale.

      • Uncle Jam's Army says:

        Stan Solen, who used to put on OBRA races at the Ziggurat back in the 80’s when helmets were first becoming mandatory, used to fondly say: “If you don’t think your head is worth 50 dollars, well, then, maybe it’s not.” Adjust quote for lights and inflation.

  • Mark Russell says:

    Are there any good rear lights for an aero seat post. Riding here in the gloaming in Belgium makes me next to invisible.

  • Aaron M says:

    I don’t know that lights or clothing make a bit of difference when so many drivers’ primary attention is directed at their phones. When my number is up, I just want someone to avenge my death, as gruesomely as possible. After getting whacked from behind by a no-account, texting piece of shit, I often ponder avenging my near-death. Sadly, there ARE consequences for payback.

  • David Huntsman says:

    Yes to lights. I run them. Especially in this age of stealth-black kits. A friend who has done some research into visibility recommends three in the back in a triangle pattern (one on the seat post and two on the l/r jersey pockets or one on the jersey and one on each seat stay) as the most eye-catching.

    • fsethd says:

      “They dropped me because I was weighted down by my lights.”

      • Hwy. 39 is on fire says:

        Yeah, but if you ride with those heavy lights in training (bonus points for the added resistance of a generator light), imagine how fast you’ll be in your next race when all that extra weight and aero drag is removed! You should add lights and generators to the WTP.

  • ezpc1 says:

    Reblogged this on ezpcgoescycling and commented:
    Whilst american in its outlook (and language!) – I can’t help but note that I have observed the same car owner behaviour in the UK. Seths writing, however, always makes me smile…..

  • ezpc1 says:


    Your writing always makes me smile….and I can confirm that the same pavlovs dog / car owner – blinky light behaviour is also seen here in the UK. It has to be said that this was known about a VERY long time ago in Scotland – mainly due to the fact that its either rainy and overcast with cloud or just plain overcast with cloud. Blue skies and sunshine whilst cycling …… – not seen often in Scotland!

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks! My forebears were from Scotland or Ireland or somewhere before they got evicted for poverty and bad behavior. Or was it just bad behavior?

  • Alright, you convinced me. Particularly since even the conservative fucknuts commenting here think it is a good idea. Wait, if they think it is a good idea, shouldn’t I do the opposite?

  • Tobylima says:

    I commute and I’ve found that using a head lamp is very effective. You can actually point it directly at drivers to get their attention. I’ll usually swipe it across their rear view or windshield to avoid blinding them at night. A head lamp also helps light corners as you negotiate the turn. They are also handy if you stop to work on your bike. The Serfas tail light is also made in an amber light version for front use and as mentioned they are very bright and can be seen at angles that obscure most other lights.

  • blinky says:

    adding a headgear blinky (front and back) too, now. Why not? Other than I look like a wanker.

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