Make yourself visible on the road after dark!

This is a pet peeve of mine. I live on a Brooklyn street that runs along the waterfront. It’s dark, being overshadowed for most of its length by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. It’s a popular route for bicyclists (I’m one of them, pretty often). It’s pretty heavily trafficked by cars and trucks.

I’m amazed by how many cyclists ride blithely along this street in the middle of the night without any lights (they’re really not supposed to be riding on this street in the first place – there’s a nice bike path that runs through a park alongside the road). When I’m driving my car on the street at night, sometimes I barely see them until I’m right next to them.

I believe that bicycle lights are mandatory in NYC (not sure). I wish this law, if there is such a law, would be enforced. I really, really don’t want to hit anyone on a bike with my car.

If either becomes a Darwin Award nominee no one will have to endure their stupid offspring (and similar behavior).


Slight threadjack: When I lived in my old house, there was a guy who would ride his bike by my house, often while texting with both hands. :eek: :smack: He even steered the bike around a corner, with his knees. :rolleyes:

Wow! That’s pretty clueless!

On motorbikes, the engine powers a dynamo that sends electricity to the battery and lights. Typically, a rectifier toggles the battery-charging circuit so you don’t overcharge and burn out your battery. As long as the engine is running (and one would assume it’s running if the rider is in traffic) the lights don’t drain the battery at all. And, even if the lights drain the battery for a few minutes, it will be recharged by the motor & dynamo after a few minutes of riding. The battery is mainly there to facilitate the electric start with a burst of power to the spark plugs and starter motor. Then it gets recharged as you drive to wherever.

I would think a moped would have a similar set-up, but maybe not. It seems to me a moped could skip the battery and rely on pedal-action to spin a dynamo for that initial electricity to the plug(s), then the motor would drive the dynamo to feed the plugs and lights.

Still, riding without lights would be unnecessary, since they’re not really drawing on battery power anyway.


My personal favorite is people slowly strolling across busy four-lane roads between crosswalks wearing all black in the dark.

Mijin said they’re electric mopeds. There’s no motor to power a dynamo. Just a battery that drains extra fast with lights on.

I just had a letter to the editor printed in our newspaper, in which I asked the question "Whose fault would it have been?

I go to work before dawn. Recently a bicycle rider and I nearly collided. The bike rider had no lights or reflectors, clothing was dark, bike was dark, AND the rider was going the wrong way down a one way street. Why do some people think they are exempted from traffic rules, because they aren’t driving a car?

Depending on the state/locality and other specifics, mopeds and some scooters (motorized) basically aren’t vehicles. No license, no inspection, no nothing. You are basically the same (or in some places less) than a bicycle.

Most states give bikes “all of the rights & subject to all of the duties” of a motor vehicle. The rider could have been cited for both (lack of) lights & riding the wrong way if you find a cop willing to write 'em.

Today as I was walking my dogs at dusk, I passed a woman who was walking her black dog while wearing all black (scrubs - ninja nurse?) and walking on the wrong side of the road, along with traffic. She should have been going against traffic, which is safer for the dogs both when it comes to cars and other dogs (LIKE MINE!)

I told her to go to the other side of the road, which she did. I saw her as she finished her walk, in the dark. I saw her pass the lady who walks her little black Doxie at night without any reflective gear. Also on the wrong side of the road.


That’s correct, and that’s why I also contrasted with motorbikes (where I’m aware that having the lights on does not drain the battery).

I also own an electric moped, but as implied by my frustration with moped riders’ behaviour, I always turn my own lights on, and wear reflective clothing (and while we’re on it, never ride against traffic or on the pavement).
The difference in how quickly the battery drains with lights on versus off, is, as you’d probably guess, small.
I just tried to figure it out: my motor is 1000W, and my lights are LEDs (typically only 10-40W), so based on this 1-4% power will go to the lights. Bikes with smaller batteries may see a bigger difference from turning the lights on (but also note such bikes will be slower and therefore probably will have less powerful LEDs), but still nowhere near worth considering leaving them off.

Hey - took me a moment to suss out YOLO upthread. Never saw it before. Then on tonight’s Muppets, a character yells out “YOLO!” Wild. (I’m SO outta touch!) :smack:

no, I’m implying that only stupid teenagers think “YOLO” is a license to do stupid shit. because that’s all it is. “LOL YOLO d00dz, I’ll be fine!”

Thanks for those quotes from Kansas law. I’m going to bookmark your post.

I’m not even going to talk about the black guy with black pants and black sweatshirt and black hair walking on my poorly lit street last year. Thankfully I always take the turn slow. Lots of people take it fast, though, and he would have been a pancake for them.

There are just some factors that come with being black that you have to accept!

And yes, I saw some grotty little kid on his bike the other day, no lights, no reflectors, after dark.

And a black cat, wandering my driveway, which I almost flattened because not only could I not see the little shit, but he also decided to cut directly into my path. Why do people let their stupid little cats roam again?

Even one of my bicycles is set up this way. Stop moving? Capacitors keep the stand lights running for up to five minutes.

Oh yes. My personal favorite are the people who walk on the road at night. Jesus fucking christ people have some common sense. At least walk against traffic so you can move aside if the car doesn’t see you.

He’s smarter than many. Where I work is on an industrial road with no sidewalks with few streetlights, and we often see coworkers walking in dark clothing in the road. The company gives those vests out free to anyone (they only ask you not to take more than two a week) and almost no one uses them.

Both of the idiots that scared me by not noticing them until I was right on top of them Wednesday were adults who were wearing all black. What I don’t get is how they could possibly see where they were going because there are no street lights and they didn’t have flashlights.

If you’re not going that fast, & if surface conditions are good enough ambient light will be all that you need. I did a 5 mile run last night on a paved bike trail. I had 360° reflectors on my arms & a shoe light on but my headlamp bobbed around my neck the entire time. I never needed to turn it on.
I’ve also done nighttime thru-the-woods trail running. There it’s not just a regular headlamp, but a super-bright one, & at least one hand light because of the rocks, roots & otherwise uneven surfaces.