October 12, 2020 § 11 Comments
Immediately upon returning to Los Angeles I experienced more dangerous passes and near-misses than I had in the previous couple of years.
At first I chalked it up to the aggression of post-covid drivers.
Then I realized that I wasn’t using front and rear lights. On my long bicycle life up north and back, I’d dispensed with them completely. There were insufficient times and places to charge them and they seemed needless.
I wondered if my close calls in LA were a result of my “invisibility.”
Two days ago I began riding again with the blinding headlight, and yesterday added to it my Cygolite rear light. All of the close passes vanished, and only one irate driver honked.
His ire was silly but understandable. He’d had to “wait” going downhill while we took the lane at 30, preventing him from driving illegally at 60+. He was delayed ten or fifteen seconds, which he pondered at the red light we met him at when he finally sped around. I gave him a dirty look. [Note: Anger management still a work in progress.]
This is a friendly reminder that if you ride urban, lights work. They really do, and the more you have, the more you will be seen. As hostile as drivers appear, it is not planned hostility. They simply don’t see you until the last second, then get angry that you’re in the “way.”
A reader updated me that my prior recommendation of these taillights was even better than before as there has been a product upgrade with no meaningful increase in an already cheap price.
Discussing this with Baby Seal as he was varnishing the toilet lever for opening day of The Dropout Cyclery in Ye Olde Torrance, he said this: “When customers have a severely limited budget and are questioning the purchase of lights, I have no problem recommending they choose lights over a helmet. A helmet may sometimes save your skull, but that’s after you’ve been hit. The lights keep you off the hood of the car to begin with. And I encourage them to get both if it’s at all possible.”
Hard analysis to argue with. Lights work.