Today’s Headlines

  • Waiting for Cuomo to Name MTA Head, Advocates Warm to Prendergast (CapNY, 2nd Ave Sagas)
  • The Post’s Transpo Reporter Picks Up Our 2012 Fatality Analysis — Will Their Editorial Board?
  • Vincent Gentile Wants to Make Sure Community Board Bigs Don’t Lose Parking Perks (Bklyn Daily)
  • Assembly Members Want Car Fees and Taxes Waived for Sandy Replacements (Bensonhurst Bean)
  • The Long, Troubled History of the Taxi Medallion (CapNY)
  • Thruway Authority to Host Public Meetings with TZB Design-Build Team Next Week (YNN, Daily Voice)
  • Providing 1,500 Free Lights, Bells and Vests to Commercial Cyclists (Crain’s)
  • Recchia Drops from Brooklyn BP Race, Clearing Way for Adams; Will Challenge Grimm Instead (News)
  • In 2012, NJ Transit Trains Had Record On-Time Performance (Post)
  • Work Progressing Quickly on Pedestrian Bridge to Brooklyn Bridge Park (Brownstoner)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    One big difference I have noticed between the early phases of the big upsurge in bicycle transportation a few years ago and the present is the use of lights.

    Back then, when traveling in the dark, it was rare for me to see someone on a bicycle that had lights.  Now it is rare for me to see someone on a bicycle that doesn’t have lights.

    Based on the anecdotal evidence, that’s a major positive trend.

  • Jonathan Rabinowitz

    Larry’s point about lights is correct, although there are many more brighter lights available on the market today than there were in 2003, 10 years ago. Better LEDs have enabled brighter lights that are more compact and weigh less as well.

    There are still plenty of riders without front or rear lights in the city, however; you just have to go to the Bronx and Queens to meet them.

  • Ian Turner

    @f9b2cb395abd5a101456b3b0a40912e1:disqus : We are cycling in different worlds then, because I still see the majority of cyclists without lights. It’s especially troublesome on the Queensboro bridge, and when lightless cyclists are riding the wrong way.

  • Joe R.

    LEDs and much better rechargeable cells are the two reasons why most bikes these days have lights. Going back ten years ago or more, putting lights on a bike really wasn’t viable. Incandescents gave very little light for the power they used. Either you had to have a huge, lead-acid battery, or you were stuck with a dim, nearly useless light. For example, the old incandescent light I tried to make work gave about 30 lumens. The lousy 600 mAh NiCads ran this light for an hour if I was lucky. Even worse, bulbs constantly burned out, often from the vibrations from riding on rough roads. After not too long, I gave up on lighting my bike. It was just too much hassle.

    A few years ago, when LEDs finally came of age, my interest in lighting my bike was rekindled. As LEDs advanced, I modded my incandescent headlights a few times. The latest iteration gives about 200 lumens. The light is pure white, not ugly yellow like incandescent. And my AA NiMH Eneloops rated at 2000 mAh can run this light for about 4 hours-easily enough for two average rides. So I get 6 or 7 times as much light for 4 times as long. Hard to beat that. Even better, I never have to worry about the LED burning out. My tail flasher (I modded one of those low-cost tail flashers available in dollar stores) runs 15 to 20 hours, and is easily visible from a quarter of a mile, perhaps even half a mile. For those not handy, there are plenty of great LED bike lights. Nowadays there really isn’t a good excuse to not light your bike at night. Ten years ago or more there was-you just couldn’t get much usable light with the technology of the time. And you had to constantly replace burned out bulbs, often a several dollars a pop. That could get expensive pretty fast. Now you just buy a decent LED light (often with an included rechargeable battery pack). Or you buy rechargeable batteries separately. Either way, you’re good to go for years.

  • Joe R.

    @7c177865bd107a919938355fe93de93a:disqus There are still a fair number of cyclists without lights, but compared to years ago, it’s a huge difference. Ten years ago, almost nobody, including me, had lights. Now it seems at least half have lights, at least in my neck of the woods.

  • kevd

    I don’t remember it being that difficult to find bike lights 10 years ago when I started riding regularly in the city. Yes, I had a front light with 2 C batteries, but it lasted a long time and was plenty bright for me to be seen. Out in the woods it would have been inadequate for illuminating an unlit road. But in the city, it was fine.
    My big realisation was how much less one got cut off when riding with a front light.Which reminds me…. I need a new front light!

  • moocow

    I rarely get to ride during rush hours where I feel bike commuters have become much more savvy. Off hours though, I feel there are still low percentages of bike light use.

    Related: is it in the realm of possibilty to write a grant to give out bike lights to delivery guys? I could probably hand out several hundred sets to the crowd riding home to Sunset Park on 5th. Are grants given out for this kind of thing?

  • Anonymous

    I also see many more lights than I used to. And less salmoning as well. So I think it’s not just a technological issue. It’s probably also a result of all the talk about bikes in the last few years.

  • Joe R.

    @kevdflb:disqus You could find plenty of bike lights 10 or even 20 years ago, but they all sucked. They may have been good for being seen (barely) but not for anything else. Also, bulbs (and batteries if you didn’t use rechargeables) were a major expense. I remember paying $4 per bulb at Radio Shack (nobody else local had them). That didn’t last long. After the third bulb in as many weeks I gave up. About the only semi-viable type of bike lighting before LEDs was generator-powered but you still had the issue of bulbs constantly burning out, especially on downhills. Anyone who hasn’t gone through this can’t appreciate how wonderful today’s LEDs are. The best ones easily make 10 to 15 times as much light per watt as those small incandescent lamps while making lamp failures pretty much a thing of the past. Today’s batteries are equally revolutionary, with more yet to come. My next bike light which I’m building will be a multilevel monster capable of ~2000 lumens. On some of the roads here with trees blocking street lights even my present 200 lumen light is sometimes lacking.