Monday, August 09, 2010

LEDs Can Save Your Life

Having just returned from a week of riding my bike across the cornfields of mid-America, I am still very much in two wheel mode this week. While the number of riders in the Harrison area does not compare to the throngs riding with me last week, there is an increasing number of bikes on the streets, roads and trails in our community. Unfortunately, pedal power and horsepower don’t always play nice together. While the bad guy is often the automobile driver, the cyclist is not always in the right.

One of the biggest safety issues with mixing cars and bikes on the same roads is visibility. There are several inexpensive devices that can assist. For about 10 bucks you can purchase a small tail light for your bike. The light uses high intensity LEDs instead of traditional light bulbs. These tiny LEDS are very bright and the circuitry allows you to change the display from a standard red tail light to a pulsating strobe effect. While these lights are made for riding at night, I find that since they are so bright, they can be seen even in bright sunny weather by anyone approaching from the rear. Since one of the often heard comments by car drivers following a bike / car accident is “I never saw him,”
the red strobing light is just enough to get the car drivers’ attention.

There are also very bright white LED headlights available. Again, these lights are intended for riding at night so the cyclist can see the road ahead. In the day they serve the same purpose as daytime use of headlights on motorcycles and more recently on new cars: visibility. I ride a lot in the Harrison area, and on the open roads and hills you can ride at a good clip. My experience is that cars don’t realize you are approaching at 25 mph or more and as a result often pull out in front of you. Seeing a bright white light often gets their attention.

These LED lights are amazing as they are small, light weight, very bright and consume very little power. I use my tail light for months at a time using two standard AAA batteries. While the headlights use a bit more power, a couple of inexpensive batteries will last many hours. This is a small price to pay for safety.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home