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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. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

forty paces of solitude

There's a very short stretch of dirt between the sidewalk and the high school baseball field that I've recently been using as my own secret trail running route. It's mostly filled with weeds. There's no obvious reason to take this route as it directly parallels the sidewalk. And it only lasts a moment before one must return to the sidewalk. But I take it. I like it. It's far, far from a nature path. It's right along a busy residential street. And it's short. But it's there. It's earth. It feels good under the feet. It rained recently so the ground has been a bit muddy along this stretch. I saw someone's footprints and I followed them. He matched me stride for stride. My right hitting just to the side of his left and vise-versa. Then I recognized the tread pattern. I was tracking myself. So many footprints that we follow along the way, some of them our own.

reflectors, reflected light, light

I found a rear bike reflector the other day by the side of the road. I find reflectors often. They seem to jostle loose. I zip-tied it to the back of my helmet. Why not? When I was a kid (even into my early thirties) I'd take off every reflector I could thinking they were uncool. Now I've got them just about everywhere. Still there seems to be a blind spot in front of me to the sides. Cross traffic at night (especially on dark roads) doesn't seem to see me well enough. Which maybe is okay because I see them and I slow down but I want it to be better/safer than that. Reflectors only light up when there's light shining on them. And cross traffic lights aren't facing the right direction. And bike lights, even the strong ones, don't provide much lateral light that a car driver might see. A glowing helmet would be interesting. At least, a white helmet probably helps. I'm considering a helmet mounted light.