Earlier in the year, I recommended creating a reasonable amount of intrigue and uncertainty with your bike lights.

I recently discovered the importance of this advice—and I was the one driving (yes driving, I do that sometimes). It was dusk turning to dark (possibly the most dangerous time of evening for cyclists) and I was driving up a slight incline. Coming downhill towards me at a distance of about 100 or 200 metres was a bike—I knew it was a bike because it had a single, handlebar-mounted flashing light. I took particular notice because it was out in the centre lane, preparing to turn across my path.

But I was wrong.

Oh, it was a bike alright. And it was preparing to cross my path alright. And it had a single flashing light alright. But it was maybe 20 metres away and the light was on the rider's helmet, not on the handlebars.

Let's just pause and think about that for a moment. I'm a daily commuter cyclist, so whatever my other inadequacies as a motorist may be, when I drive you can take it as read that I have above average bike awareness. So the fact that I grossly misjudged the distance to the approaching bike really alarmed me. Here was a first-hand illustration of my remark that

Flashing lights scream "bike" but (as was rightly pointed out in a recent episdode of Yarra BUG Radio) it's almost impossible to judge the speed and distance of a flashing light. So a combination of both is very helpful. And an assymetrical-pattern of both shape and flash/static lights helps to create intrigue and uncertainty, which is a good thing.

Now, maybe I would have made the same mistake if this rider had used a static light. But it would have been a much harder mistake to make if both flash and static llights were on display.

For your own sake, light up properly. This means a flashing visibility light to catch each motorist's attention, and a static beam to give them something to focus that attention on. And there's no reason why that static beam can't be your vision light.



When I drive, the ones that spook me are invariably the ones wearing black. You're right in saying that a single point of reference hampers depth perception, but the extra reference points don't have to be lights. Reflectors, or even just light coloured clothing is usually enough. The flashing light draws the attention, you don't need much more to fill in the rest of the picture. Hipsters wearing their black jeans on fixies with no lights are the worst - though at least you'll get that strip of pasty white skin above their jeans ;-)

Treadly and Me

…to take a stereotype out for some exercise. :-)

It sounds like you're talking about the ever-present bike ninjas of Melbourne.

Indeed, there's no point going into stealth mode on the roads. Anything that provides a steady focal point helps. I'm a big fan of retroreflectives—there seems to be something about having their own headlight beam turn back on themselves that really catches the attention of a driver.


A spotted a rear blue flashing light on a treadly from a long way the other day. I reckon they're the go and am looking for one Steve.