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Recently I saw few cyclists at night with blue neon lights attached to the spokes on their rims. They just kept one each at the back, so it wasn't that effective.

But having at least 2 of such lights (both front and back) can make a rider very visible at night and avoid possible dangers.

The riding style I am talking about is for both commuting or trailing at night.

How effective are these lights?

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5 Answers

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Anything that makes you more visible is helpful. Look at the Monkeylectric lights, in my opinion those are the best ones on the market at this point in time.

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A co-worker has one of these (M133 model) and I must say, they are pretty cool too, he can set different light patterns. monkeylectric.com –  Glenn Gervais Dec 30 '11 at 16:24
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It's easier to mount lights on the bike, but many drivers have commented to me to put effort into making myself visible from the waist up. A light on the helmet is a far better idea, when you ride in traffic with higher lines of sight (trucks). –  OMG Ponies Jan 2 '12 at 23:54
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I use a single red light on my rear spokes. I find that at night, cars that are joining the road perpendicular to my direction of travel tend to notice me more because my front and back lights don't give much light sideways. It's more useful on roads that are not lit and I have since purchased a high-visibility vest which should make me glow and be impossible to ignore.

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Certainly you should at least have wheel reflectors if you ride on roads at night. Most auto/bike accidents are not due to "overtaking" but occur at intersections and driveways, so side visibility is important. And some sort of light or reflector on the wheels is much more effective than on the fixed part of the bike, since the motion gets your attention quickly.

The question would be what style of light/reflector is reasonably bright/effective while not weighing too much or being too bulky and not requiring frequent battery changes. The light needs to be steady or rapidly flashing, as a slow-flashing moving light will be more disorienting than effective.

And, of course, turning them on/off is an issue. They could be centrifugally activated, but then they would tend to go dark when you slowed substantially, probably not a good idea.

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Yeah, that would definitely be my next question. First, I should know, they are worth spending some green.. –  Starx Dec 30 '11 at 12:34
    
I live in a town laid out mostly in a grid pattern, so I ride through many intersections at night. I have spoke lights on almost all of my bikes, and I believe they make me more visible. The batteries are standard CR2032's and they last a long time on flashing mode. –  Neil Fein Jan 1 '12 at 6:44
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This mainly depends on how bright the lights are. A lot of small, lightweight lights simply aren't very bright and are about as ineffective as low-quality reflectors. Without seeing the lights or knowing some specifications about them, it's hard to gauge.

You may be better off with high quality reflectors combined with bright, side-facing flashes attached to the frame.

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To a point, a badly aimed light, no matter how bright, will be ineffective. Those lights that dangle on a pendant are nearly worthless because they aren't aimed properly. Spoke lights will pretty much always be pointing where they're needed. (They can get very dirty, though, blocking much of the light they emit, and need to be cleaved off from time to time. A damp cloth will do the job.) –  Neil Fein Jan 1 '12 at 6:46
    
All good points that I agree with. I am mainly thinking of lights that aren't bright enough to be seen over ambient light. There is a string light that's popular in my area that's is almost invisible beyond 10-15 feet. Same with a lot of cheap rear blinkers and a couple of the spoke-lights I've seen. –  James Schek Jan 1 '12 at 7:13
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The net result is that you will have high visibility to the sides (left and right) of your bike. So laterally, these lights are quite effective.

Add front and back lights. You'll be good to go.

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