Bright Bike Light Might Make Them Back Off

[Tegwyn☠Twmffat] recently got a job as a part-time bike courier and has come to realize just how dangerous it can be to mix leg-powered transportation with various sizes of engine-driven machinery. Some people would be content with a light, but why use a measly little bulb or two when you can have a giant, illuminated sign with a clear call to action? Because is there really any ceiling when it comes to safety precautions?

We think that 180 LEDs in a familiar formation oughta do it. An ultrasonic sensor detects cars behind the bike with the help of an Adafruit Feather. All those LEDs are controlled by a pair of L293 motor driver chips and a slide potentiometer for some dimming action. After all, they need to get enough juice to be visible in broad daylight, but also be dimmable so as not to blind people at night.

[Tegwyn☠Twmffat] calls this a simple project that is suitable for beginners. We think that is great, because bespoke safety measures should be accessible for everyone. So go get those Gerbers and make one for yourself! You can check it out in action on the back of a tricycle after the break.

Want a more relaxing ride? Recumbent is the reclined way to go.

25 thoughts on “Bright Bike Light Might Make Them Back Off

  1. Great idea and implementation. It would be good if the potentiometer were replaced by a Light Dependent Resistor. This would allow for auto-dimming when for example passing through a tunnel, and would also prevent forgetting to dim the display for night use or failure to restore it for daytime use.

    1. A cheap GoPro clone mounted off the back of the saddle rails with a red COB strip mounted to it, has a surprisingly noticeable effect. Most people do know how to overtake safely after all, but only bother to try when they think they’re on video.

      1. Seen a few recumbent round here that are as tall as normal bicycles, often wondered what they are like to ride – seems like it would be even harder to balance than a normal bicycle and very much harder to put your foot down at low speed/stopping moments. As well as if all the extra chain and gear work negates the power gain of recumbent position..

        But the rider was stable and uninjured as they passed ever time, so those tall 2 wheel recumbent must be rideable…

    1. The shape and colour of it should be enough to get a drivers attention – the text in most of those sort of signs is not the most important element anyway, its just getting noticed in the first place – that shape and colour is the “pay attention fool!” instruction because something bad might be up ahead…

      I agree though I’d loose the text, or make the whole thing a bit a bigger..

      Also think just using retroreflector tape/paint laid out in the right pattern would be basically as effective, not need any electricity, and punish those arses that go around with baby sun power level lights on all the time – get their own medicine very slightly dished back at them…

      If you are going to go electric lights something that blinks, shifts colour etc is a good idea as motion catches the eye.

      1. Blinking lights are ok as long as you have an equally bright constant light too, some of the modern bike lights that flash are useless because the on time is too short, you see a flash but have no idea how far away it is when there’s no other light to focus on.

        1. Its not the “on” time in that case that is really the problem – its the off time being too great. You really don’t need an always on light if the blinking’s off period is short enough, then its easy to track no matter how short the on time is.

          You really don’t want the always on one to be too bright – it obscures the blinking intensity change so there is less perceived movement for the eye to be drawn to. A constant light isn’t a bad idea though, but it wants to be pretty dim – bright enough to be seen properly, but nothing more or it makes the blinker that draws attention relatively ineffective…

  2. That’s pretty bright (lumen-wise). I agree with Ryan for the most part – paint the PCB black – but would add a simple diffuser and a “blink” function. A driver responds first to motion, then brightness, and then to color. This is one of the reasons why the same driver will run a steady red light without consciously seeing it, but will slow down (and sometime stop) for a blinking red traffic light under the same conditions. Me, I personally like the “motion sickness and blinking lights” rule for bicycling gear. Wear colors and patterns that clash so much that the driver coming up behind you – the one who is head-bobbing with their cellphone – has to pull over into the passing lane to avoid vomiting all over their steering wheel.

    1. Grumpy old coot, exactly! I agree! These days when you’re riding a bicycle motorized,or have to be like, hey look at me! Most of the it’s on the road can’t see a motorcycle so yeah bright and visually loud so most morons that are complaining about it don’t run me over!

  3. Bear in mind that both the casual and serious cyclists have proven around here traffic laws only apply to everyone else. Add in idiots in cars etc who regularly plow into stationary objects, each other and emergency vehicles etc & it’s amazing anyone’s alive at the end of the day

    1. Some more road safety tips for modern road users:

      1) Use lights are night – cyclists especially but car drivers too that think DRL’s are ok for night driving.
      2) Wear seatbelts – you dont know better – cyclists wear a helmet.
      3) Dont use a mobile phone – whilst driving or cycling
      4) Stop at read lights – just waiting for that perfect storm where a driver hits a cyclist when both run the light at the same time.
      5) Know what is behind you before maneuvering – drivers have even less excuses here.

      Seems the level of driving ability and cycling is getting worse in the UK withe the passage of time.
      It’s bad enough driving a small sports car and not getting swiped by SUV driving muppets, on a recumbent he’s invisible to them.

  4. Yes, and I’ll add

    Road safety tip #3: If you want to be seen on the road, don’t use a recumbent.
    Road safety tip #4: If you want to be seen on the road, make sure anything electric will withstand being sprayed with water and will survive prolonged vibrations.

  5. A slide pot outdoors on the road?

    The blurry image at the top simulated what I’d see in a glance, a triangle with a crack down the middle with some gibberish at the bottom. I totally agree with solid light needing to be equal to any animation or flashing. With Amish buggies in our state they have to use a SMV triangle which is orange and retroreflective. Buy at any farm store. With a trike though one should just light up according to regular vehicle standards which does not allow any disco light show unless you’re first responder. Two large solid lit area taillights at the corners for sure, not pin dot clusters and the SMV marker.

    With a steady source of light motion attention does come first unless you are standing on the shoulder or too far away currently, you’re moving! Subtle movements seen in fluid motion instead the worst frames per second animation. Somebody selling strobe eye candy to trick out your bike says you can see it 2 miles away. You keep seeing it and never get much more info so you ignore it.

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