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Monday, November 25, 2013

Bike bullies: Turn off those blinking lights! | Crosscut.com

Some cyclists load up on lights like survivalists stockpiling guns.
SOME CYCLISTS LOAD UP ON LIGHTS LIKE SURVIVALISTS STOCKPILING GUNS.
The scariest thing about biking at night in Seattle isn’t the cellphone-jabbering SUV drivers or the bone-crunching potholes. It isn’t the slick mats of rain-sodden leaves waiting to turn unwary riders into convalescing ex-riders. It isn’t even the wheel-grabbing, rider-flipping streetcar tracks misplaced in the curb lanes on Westlake Avenue. It’s other cyclists — specifically, their high-powered, strobing and flashing headlights, shine straight into the eyes of motorists and other cyclists, transfixing them with disco-ball distraction.
The effect is at its worst on Lake Washington Boulevard S. and the Burke Gilman Trail, two narrow and often unilluminated routes where cyclists going in opposite directions meet nearly head-on. But you can encounter the powerful, pulsing glares just about anywhere. And we are talking powerful.
A standard halogen automobile headlight emits 700 lumens of light on low beam and 1,200 on high (though some reach 1,500 and beyond). Thanks to ever more efficient light-emitting diodes and lithium batteries, today’s bicycle headlights easily throw out that much light or more. One model promises a blistering 3,600 lumens for $700. Others may run to 7,600.

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