Tony, “One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living past 100,” and I were kicking around a little theory about why cycling with a blinky on the back of a bike is safer for a cyclist in reference to my post about Trek’s ABC’s of Awareness, which boil down to “be seen”.
I wear bright cycling clothing that matches my bike. This is both a good and bad thing as my bike is red… on black. Red sticks out excellently well. Black? Uhm, matching the road surface is not advisable if you have a desire to be seen. So basically I have a lot of red and white in my jerseys because black is basically cycling camouflage.
Two years ago I bought a new headlight and blinky (blinking taillight) for our once-a-year Halloween night ride that signifies the end of the season for our advanced Tuesday Night Club Ride… then I bought the same light for my wife…
I’ll just cut to the chase for brevity’s sake: Every cyclist I’ve spoken with, every one… 100%, has stated that they are treated better by motorists if they’re sporting a blinky when they ride. Day or night.
As of a few weeks ago, every time I ride alone, with my wife, or in a small group, I ride with a blinky. With all of the reports of bicyclists getting mushed by motorists lately, I decided I owed it to my wife and kids to do everything I can to bring it home alive.
Over the last couple of years, my wife and I both have noticed a difference in motorists driving patterns when we’re sporting a blinky over when we’re not. It’s a subtle difference. Fewer attempts at buzzing us (I can’t recall one with a taillight on), a little more room as a car passes…
Now, I know what some will say about putting a blinky on their high-end carbon aero bike… I used to think the same way…. used to. Left seat stay:
I use the Serfas Thunderbolt for one reason: A police officer pulled over a friend of mine to complement him on his blinking light. He said that he could literally see it flashing a mile away.
That was the light I wanted on my bike.
There are four settings, two low (solid and blink) and two “blind you” settings. Now, I don’t want to blind motorists so I use the low setting which is more than enough. Unlike most lights on the market, even the low setting on the Thunderbolt can’t be looked at directly from close range without causing one to recoil. The light is bright is what I’m trying to say.
It also fits on any kind of aero tube you’d want, without scratching the paint, and without any special tricks needed (like zip ties) – in other words, I don’t need a saddle bag to attach it to (because I’m too cool for a saddle bag).
The left seat stay is the perfect location for a taillight. It doesn’t get in the way, it shines at motorists rather than down at the ground and in a small group it’s better on the eyes for those drafting behind you.
I know this because all of my cycling friends rely on a Thunderbolt, and that’s mainly where we prefer them. Simply put, other than the Garmin interactive radar taillight that costs more than a decent mountain bike (with the computer you need to run it), the Thunderbolt is the best blinky on the market for the fashion conscious cyclist. It’s small, the brightest light on the market (that I’ve seen or know of), weatherproof (in my experience), rechargeable (6-7 hours on a charge in low-blink mode) and it won’t screw up my paint.
What more could a fella want? Oh, yeah… motorists appreciate it and treat me better when I use it.
Serfas gave me nothing for mentioning their blinky. No free stuff – they actually don’t have any knowledge of me or my blog (that I’m aware of). I mention their light because it is the best. In my experience.
There is no imperical scientific data that suggests riding with a blinking light causes motorists to treat cyclists better. None that I’m aware of anyway. I don’t need it, because I know what I’ve experienced on the road, and all of my friends agree: A rear blinky means better riding. Period.