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Saturday, December 8, 2012

test: head light. "people are people so why should it be…"

I tested out both the rear facing helmet reflector (red) and the forward facing "head"light (I used one of those miner style headlamps popular with the hiking/climbing/camping crowd). I perceived an immediate positive difference in the patience and care of the surrounding drivers. And this was a Friday rush hour test when sometimes that patience can be lacking. I felt as if I had graduated to the standing of a pedestrian which in the eyes of the motorist is one step closer to being a human. 

I guess I was most surprised by the difference the rear reflector made. Especially since I always have a rear reflector and flashing red tail light. But somehow, putting a reflector on your head really gets the point across: human. 

The forward head light also made a big difference. In part because of its height above the level of parked cars so that it is visible even when a handlebar light would be blocked. The head light was not very bright. I've had it for a long time and the batteries were a little low. I've just never used it on the bike for some reason. I kept the light on steady mode. As I do with the handlebar light. I think flashing headlights are really annoying to everyone involved. The dimness of the light did not seem to be a problem, though, and it might even be better to keep it slightly dim so that you can look around at people without putting a bright spot light right on them. 

I'm immediately afraid to ride without either of these head mounted lighting systems. 

Of note and a twist: I don't think the head light and reflector made me more visible (except in a few special cases). Motorists always see me. They just don't "see" me. If that makes any sense. And that's the big hump out there - not getting people to see bicyclists (oh, you know you see me!) - getting people to see people. 


John Romeo Alpha said...

Hmm. More human. It is after all a human that does good, or otherwise, on the road. Perhaps a way to overcome the "DRIVERS SHOULD..." or "ALL CYCLISTS ARE..." stereotypical in-groupings, we can subversively visually humanize ourselves on two wheels.

mindful mule said...

Thanks, John. I hope I'm not playing to one side of the field too heavily here. But since this is a bike focused blog post I figure it's okay to lean a little toward my intended audience.

As to the subversive visual humanization, I've found one of my riding mantras to be quite effective at inter-mindal communication: "here I am, here I am, here I am…"

A Midnight Rider said...

My head light is only used when I need to see in dark area of my night rides. I have plenty of other lights for others to see me and have been accused of traveling on a space ship.

The most common "comment" is SWEEEET.

mindful mule said...

Sweet! Spaceship is a good look to shoot for. I often wear my clear plastic rain cape at night too because it's got a reflective stripe and it blocks the wind chill - it looks like a spacesuit!

A Midnight Rider said...

I have THIS LIGHT on my bike.