A friend recently pointed me at this article about "blinkie" vs. "solid" night lighting for cyclists. Author Mia Birk says a woman from the Netherlands recently confronted her to complain about state-side cyclists and their dazzling, blinky lights.
Ms. Birk asks, "You can never be too visible, right?"
While I admit I'd never given it much thought, after reading the arguments I remain convinced that you cannot be too visible, at least when you're sharing public roadways with motor vehicles. (I feel less of a need to "shout out" my presence when I'm on a dedicated bike/pedestrian path, as I'm sure I would in the Netherlands, with its famous bike-friendly infrastructure and culture.)
One guy who commented on Ms. Birk's blog, Todd Edelman, writes about "hyper-illumination" HERE. He describes "MonkeyLectric Bike Wheel Lights" that look like a rolling fireworks display. He argues that over-illuminating creates an unfair disadvantage for "vulnerable road users," both pedestrians and cyclists, who are legally-but-barely illuminated.
He says reflective vests "should only be worn by emergency or construction workers or related." And criticizes users of "an excessive number of normal lights or reflectors" and even "bright clothing at night." His worry is that if people in cars grow accustomed to seeing "hyper-illuminated" cyclists, they will no longer watch for "normally-illuminated" cyclists and pedestrians.
While his concerns are the ultimate in altruism ("selfless concern for the welfare of others"), maybe I'm too self-centered. Because I reserve and will exercise the right to use whatever means I can, to be seen by motorists at night. The stakes are high.
(Thankfully, I don't do a lot of night riding. But all cyclists and pedestrians should understand the additional vulnerability they face when using public roadways at night, and take the precautions they can to be safe... even if they exceed the absolute minimum. Legally, I don't believe pedestrians have to do anything to aid in visibility. Cyclists, at least in this jurisdiction, need a reflector on the back and a light on the front. If you feel that's adequate, ride on and good luck.)
[Bob T - I particularly hope to hear your viewpoint on this topic, because you further "enlightened" me. Enlightened... get it?]