....And then there was light
It is that time of the year again where darkness falls and we still want to ride. The issue of visibility is nothing new but we at Le Vélo haven't talked about it much because we are a fairly new business. There are many issues that we differ from the public or 'popular' opinion here in Victoria, BC or perhaps even in the whole of Canada.
It sure seems that in Victoria most cyclists love to show off their lights. As technology is advancing and lights become more affordable, more people choose the brightest light that they can afford. We understand this because the current cycling infrastructure is far from ideal where cyclists have to compete with cars in terms of space but also visibility. However, we hope that all cyclists will make good use of the technology and adjust their lights depending on the location that they are riding.
Every cyclist has experienced that shining (sometimes even strobing) bright light in their eyes and that brief moment of complete loss of vision. The more cyclists on the road, the more it will become a real safety hazard. Taking our cues from the Dutch (I'm Dutch and spent my youth and adulthood living there and speak from experience), we have a world-class cycling infrastructure and bright lights are not necessary. Don't get me wrong, our goal and vision is to get as many people possible on their bikes riding! However, we would like to suggest the following;
- Keep your lights pointing downwards so you can see the path you are cycling on. The light does you no good pointing in the faces of on-coming cyclists, yes you'll be seen but at what cost to your fellow human cycling past you? Please be considerate and adjust accordingly.
- City Cycling: There is a fine line between needing to be seen and blinding people around you with your bright lights. My suggestion here is to adjust your front light. It needs to be high enough so that on-coming traffic, pedestrians as well as other people on bikes can see you but not be blinded by you.
- When possible use only the lowest brightness setting: The goal should not be to blind on-coming traffic, yes you want and need to be seen in traffic, but you don't want to temporarily blind the person driving the car, this makes for dangerous conditions for everyone on the road, including pedestrians and other people on bikes.
- Strobe function in low light conditions: A great suggestion here is to never use the strobe function in low light conditions, i.e. when it's dark outside. The Galloping Goose Trail here in Victoria and in places where the upcoming cycling traffic is on the same path as you are as opposed to on the other side of the road.
- Headlamps: in my humble opinion, have no place in city cycling. They are so uncommonly bright and as you move your head around in traffic you temporarily blind anyone in your path. This is so unbelievably dangerous and completely inconsiderate of everyone sharing the road. We need to apply some common sense while riding and i'm appealing to the sensibility of everyone and politely ask that you avoid using headlamps in traffic.
We understand the argument of the prople to stay safe but at the same time people need to understand that in some situations it is not desirable and can be dangerous for everyone around you. Applying some of these courtesies will go along way in eliminating some of the aggravation of being on the streets and pathways. As our cycling and pedestrian infrastructure improves we need to take all of this into consideration. My hope for the future