Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by don.. » Mon, 30 Oct 2000 22:58:20


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

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Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by Jeremy Chrism » Tue, 31 Oct 2000 12:31:57

Quote:
>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 ***-band and clamp setup, so they can be moved easily from one uni to another, or removed entirely.

Jeremy

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Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by John Chil » Tue, 31 Oct 2000 14:17:20

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

Quote:

>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.

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Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by Tom Hol » Tue, 31 Oct 2000 15:39:12


)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

 
 
 

Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by Sarah Mille » Tue, 31 Oct 2000 21:36:13

Quote:

> 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

 
 
 

Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by John Fo » Wed, 01 Nov 2000 02:45:38

Quote:
> 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

 
 
 

Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by Nathan Hoove » Wed, 01 Nov 2000 03:57:21

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


Quote:
> 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]
 
 
 

Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by Tom Hol » Wed, 01 Nov 2000 03:51:10

Quote:

> > 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:

21200.  (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.

231.  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
21200.5.

467.  (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

 
 
 

Safety Tips for City Uni Rides at Night

Post by John Chil » Wed, 01 Nov 2000 06:20:49

Quote:

>)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 I***(I am not a lawyer) so don't consider this to
be legal advice.

john_childs
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