One overcast Saturday morning about a year ago, as I waited for Anthony to come along for a spin, I noticed a flashing beacon far off at the end of the straight. A few seconds later I saw a fluorescent yellow Gillet and saw that it was Anthony approaching. He had just fitted a new set of see.sense lights to his bike and they most definitely caught my eye.
Every Saturday and Sunday morning from then on, he went on the outside, making us both more visible to motorists, even throughout the ‘summer’ months.
Eventually I got a set myself and have been trying them out over the past few months. There are many excellent reviews online about the amazing technicalities of these lights, and they really are brilliant, but theres no point in my rehashing the same. What I will do, is tell you how I found they worked for me out on the road and what ideas the pulsating lights flashed through my mind as I rode along.
There are four types of motorists that pass you on the road when you are out cycling your bike ;
Bingo players &
The Blackberry pickers give you a really wide berth as they overtake. They keep so far over to the other side of the road that if they were to open their drivers side window they could pick the blackberrys from the opposite ditch. They are often cyclists themselves and they are sound.
The Inbetweeners give you enough space to swerve slightly if you encounter a big deep pothole on the road, of which there are many locally, especially on the ‘Backroad to Roubaix’ from Carrick to Clonmel. They bear cyclists no harm nor ill will, nor do they expend a huge amount of time in consideration of the cyclists. They are just Ordinary Decent People going about their busy daily lives.
The Bingo players spend much of their time in charge of a one or two tonne vehicle with their eyes down, checking their lotto numbers, facebooking , texting, emailing or playing candy crush. They get bored ‘just driving along’ or have ‘ very important, extremely urgent’ matters to attend to. If they see you they will probably allow enough room, similar to the Inbetweener but if they don’t they could easily become an Elbow slider, or worse.
Then there are the Elbow sliders. These people insist on trying to clean the side of their muddy cars, vans, trucks or busses with the knuckle of the cyclists elbow. They pass so close that they are either (A) intentionally trying to frighten the life out of the cyclist, or (B) trying to actually kill or maim a cyclist after getting wound up listening to George Hook or Joe Duffy on the radio. Most Elbow sliders are right W….., well you know what I mean.
You meet all of these types of motorists almost everyday out on the road. There are two things that I do to allow for this.
1 : I mainly cycle on quiet back roads whenever I am out alone if at all possible. Busy main roads are not enjoyable to cycle on and you encounter way too many stressed out motorists. Ireland is like one great big greenway if you look hard enough. We have hundreds of thousands of kilometres of roads that not a lot of people use. They are out there very close to home if you look hard enough.
2 : I make myself visible. Like many cyclists I have clothing in my wardrobe that is black that I like to wear. I know that some see this as irresponsible but many others also belong to the black brigade. It makes us look skinnier and doesn’t show up the dirt from the mucky roads as much. But by having lights that attract a drivers attention we are just as visible to motorists as someone in full Hi-Viz.
This is where the see.sense icon comes in. Whilst it is a great light at night time I think that it is the daytime use that is it’s greatest benefit. It is stronger, brighter and more eye catching than pretty much any other light of its kind. Cars have had daytime running lights for years. Cyclists should have them too.
Recently I read a letter to the editor in the Irish Times penned by a motorist complaining about these cyclists going around with flashing lights during the daytime. They found them distracting. I read that as the lights doing their job and actually grabbing the motorists attention.
As I noticed myself feeling a little cocooned at first when using the lights in daytime I decided to try a little experiment.
I took note of how much room motorists were allowing when I had the lights on. Then along the same stretch of busy road I turned off the lights and counted less cars using indicators when passing me out and also found more cars being driven by potential elbow sliders. This was nothing scientific but it did leave me with the impression that I was definitely more visible to motorists when the lights were on and that they treated me as such.
see.sense are probably the best lights for daytime use but even if it is only a cheap set of lights that you have, use them in daytime whenever you are out on the road and hopefully you will meet only blackberry pickers on your travels.