Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Hi There, My uni rides after work are now in darkness, with the occasional
moonlight and street light to guide me. I have a Insight Ultra BRT-7 Rear light,
a 7 LED red strobe at the back of my uni, which can detach when I’m in the gym.
I’d hate to get hit by a biker from the back. Does anyone have any safety tips
or experience? Riding night is a little freaky, like you’ve entered the dark
realm and you use more feel than visuals to keep on top.

Don Tai

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/ Before you buy.

Re: [Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night]

dontai@my-deja.com wrote: Hi There, My uni rides after work are now in darkness,
with the occasional moonlight and street light to guide me. I have a Insight
Ultra BRT-7 Rear light, a 7 LED red strobe at the back of my uni, which can
detach when I’m in the gym. I’d hate to get hit by a biker from the back. Does
anyone have any safety tips or experience? Riding night is a little freaky, like
you’ve entered the dark realm and you use more feel than visuals to keep on top.


A ride at night a large amount. I have flashing led lights front and back and
have never bothered with more than that.

The biggest problem is the lack of visual information. An unexpected bump can
send you flying if you are not careful. I find bigger wheel unicycles are safer
for night riding as the wheel size minimizes the effect of bumps.

I try to spend most of my time on the footpath rather than the road as cars are
a lot more dangerous than pedestrians.

If you tend to ride the same route home eventually you’ll get to know all the
bumps and drops that will throw you off. I ride through a very badly lit section
to get home but its not a problem as I know exactly where to cycle in order to
avoid problems.

Now for a real thrill try highspeed downhill gliding at night! Probably the
scariest thing I’ve done on a uni.

Peter

o o Peter Bier o O o Juggler, unicyclist and mathematician.
o/|\o peter_bier@usa.net


Get free email and a permanent address at http://www.netaddress.com/?N=1

Re: [Re: [Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night]]

“Danny Colyer” <danny@speedy5.freeserve.co.uk> wrote: Peter Bier wrote:
> A ride at night a large amount. I have flashing led lights front and back and
> have never bothered with more than that.

A red light on the front of any cycle is a really bad idea, IMHO. Anyone
planning to try this in the UK should also be aware that it is illegal.

That reads led as in light emitting diode. My front one is white and the back is
red. Definately not a good idea to stuff that one up! Getting them around the
wrong way is not only illegal but dangerous as it will confuse other cyclists
and motorists.

Although I have wondered what people would think if you executed a pirouette at
night. It would certainly confuse them :slight_smile:

o o Peter Bier o O o Juggler, unicyclist and mathematician.
o/|\o peter_bier@usa.net


Get free email and a permanent address at http://www.netaddress.com/?N=1

RE: Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

>Hi There, My uni rides after work are now in darkness, with the occasional
>moonlight and street light to guide me. I have a Insight Ultra BRT-7 Rear
>light, a 7 LED red strobe at the back of my uni, which can detach when I’m in
>the gym. I’d hate to get hit by a biker from the back. Does anyone have any
>safety tips or experience? Riding night is a little freaky, like you’ve entered
>the dark realm and you use more feel than visuals to keep on top.
>
>Don Tai

I have outfitted my Coker with a VistaLite Eclipse 7 LED rear blinker (on the
seat post), 2 Zefal “xf supervision” 5-LED red taillights (mounted vertically on
the frame, one on each side, just above the crankarms- they are narrow enough
not to rub my ankles) and a Zefal headlight with 5 amber LEDs. This makes me
something of a moving XMas tree, but I KNOW I can be seen- even in the crazy
traffic in the near suburbs of Chicago. These lights all remove easily- the VL
leaves a plastic bracket on, and comes off with a built-in belt clip, and the
Zefals all come off with a nifty rubber-band and clamp setup, so they can be
moved easily from one uni to another, or removed entirely.

Jeremy


Do you hate clowns? Get Free Email & Free Websites at http://www.ihateclowns.com
Buy Anti-Clown Hats, Mugs, Mousepads and more at http://store.ihateclowns.net

Re: Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

As has already been mentioned it is not legal to have a red light or a red
reflector on the front of your vehicle. Red on the back and white on the front.
You are also at risk of getting a ticket for not having a front light. The
police where I went to college would write tickets to students riding their
bikes home from campus at night without a front light. My experience is in the
US. Laws and consequences in other areas may be different.

When I ride at night I use a helmet mounted NiteRider light a red LED light on
my back and a reflective vest. Reflectors in the spokes are also a good idea but
I don’t always use them. I do both muni rides and Coker rides at night. Night
riding is a lot of fun but it is easier with the right lighting. Single track
muni rides are definitely much more difficult at night. Coker rides at night are
almost like floating. When riding at night it feels and looks like you are going
faster than you actually are.

A good light definitely makes night riding safer and easier. You have to be able
to clearly see bumps and rocks in the road to be able to unicycle safely. A
powerful handheld flashlight is probably good enough for unicycling but
flashlights are inconvenient to carry and most flashlights are not as bright as
a bicycle lighting system.

What works and what doesn’t:

The little head mounted flashlights that use AA batteries that are popular with
hikers and runners are not adequate for unicycling. They are not bright enough
to allow you to see bumps and other obstacles in the road. They may be bright
enough so that they will be legal and prevent you from getting a ticket, but
they are not bright enough to actually make your ride safe.

Wide beams are better than a spot beam. A light with a wide beam works better
for unicycling than a light with a spot beam. Bicyclists like the spot lights
because they are going faster and need to look farther ahead. When unicycling
you tend to look just ahead of the wheel so a wide beam gives you better
coverage of the area that you will be looking at.

Helmet mounted lights are the best way to go. I like a helmet mounted light
because I can look around and the light will always be where I’m looking. This
is especially handy when turning. Mounting a light on the unicycle under the
seat will work when riding in a straight line but will be very poor when you are
turning a corner. You also run the risk of breaking the light when you crash or
drop your unicycle if the light is mounted to the unicycle. Helmet mounted
lights also generally require that you be wearing a helmet which I consider to
be a good thing.

If you use a helmet mounted light make sure to put the battery pack in a
backpack, pocket or somewhere else on your person. Do not attach the battery
pack to the unicycle. If you crash you don’t want your head tethered to the
unicycle. That could hurt in addition to ripping the cord from the battery pack.

What kind of lights:

There are generally three flavors of lighting systems. Lead acid batteries are
lower cost but the battery is heavier and larger. NiCad batteries are smaller
and lighter than lead acid. NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) are smaller and lighter
than NiCad and usually have longer burn times and shorter charge cycles.

These lights can be rather expensive. The higher priced lights generally give
you better features like smarter chargers and smarter lights. Dumb chargers are
really a pain because you have to manually time them and unplug them when the
charge is done. You can automate a dumb charger by using a wall plug timer but
it is still very inconvenient. The smart lights know when the battery is getting
low and will automatically dim the light and then turn off the light to prevent
the battery from getting over drained. Over draining the battery can completely
ruin the battery so having a light that is smart enough to prevent this is a
good thing and may save you from destroying a battery.

With any lighting system read the owners manual carefully. The manual should
give you tips on charging and tips on using the light. Every brand of light is
different and the different battery types (lead acid, NiCad, NiMH) are all very
different too. Not reading the manual is a common reason for getting poor
performance from an expensive light or totally destroying the battery.

NiteRider makes some good lights. They are a little expensive but they are well
made and work well. I’m using a NiteRider Digital HeadTrip (with a wide angle
bulb) and I love it. NiteRider is at http://www.niterider.com

If you are in the UK there is Lumicycle. They are at http://www.lumicycle.co.uk

There are other lighting systems too. Performance Bike also makes some lighting
systems and are a little lower in cost than the big brands.
http://www.performancebike.com And there are of course others.

john_childs

>From: dontai@my-deja.com
>
>Hi There, My uni rides after work are now in darkness, with the occasional
>moonlight and street light to guide me. I have a Insight Ultra BRT-7 Rear
>light, a 7 LED red strobe at the back of my uni, which can detach when I’m in
>the gym. I’d hate to get hit by a biker from the back. Does anyone have any
>safety tips or experience? Riding night is a little freaky, like you’ve entered
>the dark realm and you use more feel than visuals to keep on top.
>
>Don Tai
>
>
>Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/ Before you buy.


Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com.

Share information about yourself, create your own public profile at
http://profiles.msn.com.

RE: Re: [Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night]

>In fact, the manufacturerclaims that my 7 LED light can be seen up to 2,000
>feet away, which is quite remarkable.

They test these things pretty well- but the distances are based on the
candlepower estimated to be given off- you’ll never see it from 2000’ in real
life. However, you don’t need to- really, 500’ is enough to keep from being
plastered on a windshield, though the more warning, the better.

>Do you think that, greater than a certain distance that the flashing light
>would blur into one singular red glow, and act as a steady light? The speed of
>the flashing is quite fast, and there is a certain “afterglow” from each flash.

I have seen these lights from quite a distance, as well as close up, and they
have always been a flashing light- the distance just akes them smaller and
less bright.

>Thanks for your info. Does your uni still ride the same after you deck it out
>with all your lighting? Where do you store the batteries? On your uni’s frame,
>I guess. After you fall a few times (but this never happens!) would your
>lighting system still survive?

The cool thing about the Zefals is that they are so narrow- none of them even
brush my legs while I ride, so I don’t even bother to take them off when I’m
riding in the day. They’re all small lights, and flat, so the weight is
negligible, the size not worth thinking about, and the batteries are internal, 2
AA in the Zefal, 2 AAA in the VistaLight.(The VL gets 250 hrs of use in flashing
mode or “up and down” mode- it goes up, then down, then up the LEDs, lighting
the top 4 at once, in a square. The Zefals get either 200 or 400 hrs of use,
depending on whether I set them to light all 5 LEDs at once, or just 2 at a
time.) Also, since they hug the frame, the only things that can touch the ground
when I fall are the tire, the pedals, and the seat. All the lights attach
securely enough to avoid any chance of falling off from the shock of falling.

Keep on riding! Jeremy


Do you hate clowns? Get Free Email & Free Websites at http://www.ihateclowns.com
Buy Anti-Clown Hats, Mugs, Mousepads and more at http://store.ihateclowns.net

RE: Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

> Unless you live in a state where unicycles are covered by the definition of
> “bicycle” (and at least in California, that is not the case), it is very
> likely that there is no legal requirement for lighting.

I forget who it was, but I think it was somebody at our recent MUni Weekend who
pointed out that we in California were probably fantasizing about not being
legally considered to be “vehicles” under the CA vehicle code.

Though it describes something like “a chain, belt, or gears,” only in the
strictest interpretation of those words can you rule out standard unicycles.
Supposedly in any court this would be interpreted to mean basically anything
that’s mechanically propelled by human force.

Sorry folks, but we California unicyclists should think of ourselves as
“vehicles” when we use the roads too.

Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone http://www.unicycling.com

“Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.” – Forrest Gump

Re: Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

>John Childs <john_childs@hotmail.com> wrote: )As has already been mentioned it
>is not legal to have a red light or )a red reflector on the front of your
>vehicle. Red on the back and )white on the front. You are also at risk of
>getting a ticket for not )having a front light. The police where I went to
>college would write )tickets to students riding their bikes home from campus at
>night )without a front light. My experience is in the US. Laws and
>)consequences in other areas may be different.
>
>Unless you live in a state where unicycles are covered by the definition of
>“bicycle” (and at least in California, that is not the case), it is very likely
>that there is no legal requirement for lighting.
>
>It’s also worth noting that the police usually have very little knowledge of
>traffic regulations for anything but automobiles. -Tom

In general I go with the assumption that when I’m on a unicycle I’m going to be
treated like a bicycle by the law even though a strict reading of the law states
that you must have two or more wheels, a chain, or whatever. I have no desire to
try to explain in court that I am not a bicycle and therefore do not need to
follow the same laws as a bicycle. Has anyone successfully made the argument in
traffic court that they are not a bicycle and therefore did not need to follow
the same rules as a bike?

In addition to just the plain old traffic law and traffic tickets there is the
issue of being sued in civil court if you injure someone while riding your
unicycle. For example lets say you are riding a night without a headlight, with
a red light on the front of your uni and a red light on the back of your uni. A
tandem bike runs into you because they didn’t see you until it was too late and
then were confused by the red light on the front of your uni and both tandem
riders are injured. They sue you to recover the costs of their injuries. The
fact that you did not have a headlight and were not following the laws for bikes
could very well be an issue in civil court. If they find that you were negligent
or even partially at fault you could come out the looser in court.

Be smart. Consider yourself a bicycle and follow the laws as such and you may
avoid some potential legal headaches.

Standard disclaimer of IANAL (I am not a lawyer) so don’t consider this to be
legal advice.

john_childs


Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com.

Share information about yourself, create your own public profile at
http://profiles.msn.com.

Re: [Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night]

Peter Bier wrote:
> A ride at night a large amount. I have flashing led lights front and back and
> have never bothered with more than that.

A red light on the front of any cycle is a really bad idea, IMHO. Anyone
planning to try this in the UK should also be aware that it is illegal.

It might not matter as much at unicycling speeds as it does at bicycling speeds
if someone can’t tell which direction you’re travelling in, but you’ll still
confuse people. And you’ll regret it if someone fails to dip their lights
because they mistakenly believed you had your back to them.

Last winter I did just this on my spare-wheeler - I knew there was a bike ahead
of me on an unlit cyclepath because I could see the red light. I kept my lights
on full beam - didn’t realise until I was almost upon him that he was travelling
towards me and I was dazzling him. When I posted the story on uk.rec.cycling,
several other people mentioned near misses they’d had as a result of someone
else having a red light on the front of their machine.

I’d add that a flashing light on its own is also a really bad idea. The eye
needs a steady point of reference in order to track a moving object. By all
means use a flashing light to increase your visibility, but I advise only in
conjunction with a steady light.

I use a Vistalite VL700 on the back of my Muni - in steady mode if I’m on a
public highway or cyclepath. I only use it in flashing mode for riding around
convention sites (when I want to show off).

I’ve got 4 lights that I use on the front. The Cateye TL-LD500-FC is always
attached - 3 really bright white LED’s in a unit that fits very nicely under the
saddle. A Petzl head torch is good for seeing where I’m going. I also recently
fitted a mounting for my usual bike lights, Cateye Dual Daylites. I haven’t
actually ridden with them yet, but it’s nice to know that I can have 16W worth
of light shining out from between my legs any time I want.

> The biggest problem is the lack of visual information. An unexpected bump can
> send you flying if you are not careful.

Head torch good, serious off-road bike lights better. The Cateye Dual Daylites
are a little too bulky to be ideal - I fitted them because I just happened to
have them and it was much cheaper to buy a new mounting bracket than a new
lighting system. Any of the unicyclists who rode in the Red Bull Mountain Mayhem
ride earlier this year will be able to give good advice on serious lighting
(especially Leo, he seems to have something different every time I see him).

<good advice snipped>
> Now for a real thrill try highspeed downhill gliding at night! Probably the
> scariest thing I’ve done on a uni.

I bet it was. I’m suddenly full of admiration.


Danny Colyer (remove your.head to reply)
http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/danny/danny.html “Make it idiotproof and
someone will build a better idiot.”

Re: Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

In article <LAW-F43rdZ6VzvdrEb60000316e@hotmail.com>, John Childs
<john_childs@hotmail.com> wrote: )As has already been mentioned it is not legal
to have a red light or a red )reflector on the front of your vehicle. Red on the
back and white on the )front. You are also at risk of getting a ticket for not
having a front )light. The police where I went to college would write tickets to
students )riding their bikes home from campus at night without a front light. My
)experience is in the US. Laws and consequences in other areas may be
)different.

Unless you live in a state where unicycles are covered by the definition of
“bicycle” (and at least in California, that is not the case), it is very likely
that there is no legal requirement for lighting.

It’s also worth noting that the police usually have very little knowledge of
traffic regulations for anything but automobiles. -Tom

Re: Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

dontai@my-deja.com wrote:
> Hi There, My uni rides after work are now in darkness, with the occasional
> moonlight and street light to guide me. I have a Insight Ultra BRT-7 Rear
> light, a 7 LED red strobe at the back of my uni, which can detach when I’m in
> the gym. I’d hate to get hit by a biker from the back. Does anyone have any
> safety tips or experience? Riding night is a little freaky, like you’ve
> entered the dark realm and you use more feel than visuals to keep on top.

Do you have a front light? It may seem useless for seeing the road by , but even
a 3w white light will help drivers, cyclists or peds to see you coming.
Reflectors are OK, but reley on the other guy having good lights and don’t help
peds who don’t normally carry lights ( and can’t hear a uni coming as we are
MUCH quieter than a bike).

I ride in town at night with two rear lights , one static, one flashing and
either an LED front light or a 5w front light or both. I also have white
relective tape on the frame at the sides and often wear a reflective vest and
trouser clips. My 5w light is a cateye halogen which nestles under the saddle in
an elastic cradle made by driling 4 hole in the miyata bumper and attaching two
lentghs of elastic. It hold the light firm and in a position that is good for
car driver visiility. It is not a particulary good postioin for illuminating the
road tho, as the beam is too high.

For night time off roading I use a Smart light 10w lamp with lrechargeable
battery pack straped under the back of the saddle ( two more holes in the rear
bumper with cable tie wraps looped thro them.) its a heavey battery but it
lasts 3 hours, the lamp unit is small and neat. I made a lamp holder from an
old LED light clip that fastens on the frame. The Smart is a good budget option
( in the UK at least) A bright light for a low price. Excelent for seeing where
you are going.

I agree that night riding is more “seat of the pants” than day riding, if you do
a route fequently you get it know it tho and learn when to move over to avoid an
irritating dip or lump.

keep on riding. sarah

Re: Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

On Mon, Oct 30, 2000 at 09:19:04AM -0800, John Foss wrote:
> > Unless you live in a state where unicycles are covered by the definition of
> > “bicycle” (and at least in California, that is not the case), it is very
> > likely that there is no legal requirement for lighting.
>
> I forget who it was, but I think it was somebody at our recent MUni Weekend
> who pointed out that we in California were probably fantasizing about not
> being legally considered to be “vehicles” under the CA vehicle code.
>
> Though it describes something like “a chain, belt, or gears,” only in the
> strictest interpretation of those words can you rule out standard unicycles.
> Supposedly in any court this would be interpreted to mean basically anything
> that’s mechanically propelled by human force.
>
> Sorry folks, but we California unicyclists should think of ourselves as
> “vehicles” when we use the roads too.

Two notes:

Bicycles are not vehicles under the California Vehicle Code (some states are
different). Viz:

  1. (a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and
    is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a
    vehicle by this division…

This is very different than actually being a vehicle. For one thing, it applies
only when you’re on a “highway,” which under the CVC’s definition, basically
means any public street. Sidewalks are not included in the CVC’s definition of
“highway,” though they are included in some more broader definitions, for
example under common law or CJS.

Regarding the definitions, here are the two relevant sections.

  1. A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride, propelled
    exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears, and having
    one or more wheels. Persons riding bicycles are subject to the
    provisions of this code specified in Sections 21200 and
    21201.1.

  2. (a) A “pedestrian” is any person who is afoot or who is using a means of
    conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.

I think it’s clear that things like Razor scooters and rollerblades are covered
under the definition of “pedestrian.” I would say it would also be clear for
unicycles except for the inclusion of “one or more wheels” in section 231. On
the face of it, that definition is saying that a giraffe is a bicycle, but a
normal unicycle is not, which is strange. I think it’s unlikely that there’s
been significant precedent established.

I think unicycling in a vehicular manner when on the road is probably a good
idea, whatever the law says. -Tom

Re: Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Wow, nice post John. I agree with everything you say. I use exactly the same
equipment as you with the addition of small reflective velcro legbands on each
leg. It is really fun at night! My all time speed record on the Coker is still
from a night ride too. I was just “floating” as you say.

—Nathan

“John Childs” <john_childs@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:LAW-F43rdZ6VzvdrEb60000316e@hotmail.com
> When I ride at night I use a helmet mounted NiteRider light a red LED
light
> on my back and a reflective vest. Reflectors in the spokes are also a
good
> idea but I don’t always use them. I do both muni rides and Coker rides at
> night. Night riding is a lot of fun but it is easier with the right lighting.
> Single track muni rides are definitely much more difficult at night. Coker
> rides at night are almost like floating. When riding at
night
> it feels and looks like you are going faster than you actually are.
[snip]

Re: [Re: [Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night]]

Peter Bier wrote:
> Although I have wondered what people would think if you executed a
pirouette
> at night. It would certainly confuse them :slight_smile:

LOL. I don’t think it really works as a safety tip…


Danny Colyer (remove your.head to reply)
http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/danny/danny.html “Make it idiotproof and
someone will build a better idiot.”

Re: [Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night]

It seems like many lighting manufacturers have rear LED lights in red that have
steady and flashing modes. I’ve seen both bicyclists and roller bladers use
these lights in flashing mode quite effectively. The flashing lights really seem
to increase your visibility by catching your eye’s innate ability to detect
movement. In fact, the manufacturer claims that my 7 LED light can be seen up to
2,000 feet away, which is quite remarkable. I’ve tested it to 30 feet and it
looks pretty good to me, but that’s not too scientific. Do you think that,
greater than a certain distance that the flashing light would blur into one
singular red glow, and act as a steady light? The speed of the flashing is quite
fast, and there is a certain “afterglow” from each flash.

Thanks for your info. Does your uni still ride the same after you deck it out
with all your lighting? Where do you store the batteries? On your uni’s frame, I
guess. After you fall a few times (but this never happens!) would your lighting
system still survive?

Don Tai

In article <8ti882$l36$1@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>, “Danny Colyer”
<danny@speedy5.freeyour.headserve.co.uk> wrote:
> I’d add that a flashing light on its own is also a really bad idea.
The eye needs a steady point of reference in order to track a moving object. By
all means use a flashing light to increase your visibility, but I advise only
in conjunction with a steady light.
>

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/ Before you buy.

Re: [Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night]

<Don Tai> wrote:
> Thanks for your info. Does your uni still ride the same after you deck it out
> with all your lighting? Where do you store the batteries? On your uni’s frame,
> I guess. After you fall a few times (but this never happens!) would your
> lighting system still survive?

LED lights are lightweight and have no discernible effect on handling. A
headtorch is heavier, but still not heavy, and not mounted in a position to
affect handling.

My big lights are pretty heavy (or at least the battery is), but I’d still be
surprised if they affected handling particularly noticeably.

The battery fits quite snugly in the bottle cage on the back of my Muni (it’s
not a bottle shaped battery, but it works). I don’t know how they’d survive
after a few falls - I haven’t actually ridden the Muni in the dark since I
fitted the Dual Daylites. I wouldn’t hold out much hope if I dropped the
unicycle often, but I usually catch it when I dismount.

Cateye Dual Daylites are great for biking, but I wouldn’t recommend them for
unicycling unless you already happen to have a set. Something smaller and less
likely to get knocked will be better. Sarah’s lights (which she’s posted
about) are good.


Danny Colyer (remove your.head to reply)
http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/danny/danny.html “Make it idiotproof and
someone will build a better idiot.”