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Should I use my bike lights in flashing mode?

92 views Published by admin Aug 09,2018

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Should I use my bike lights in flashing mode? This is a popular question in the bicycling community, and the right answer depends on many factors. A study on explains that flashing bike lights appear brighter to the human eye than a steady light at the same output level. Flashing lights grab attention faster, but it’s also much harder to estimate the distance and speed of a flashing light than a steady one.

bike lights at night

Although you will find many differing opinions, and we’ve yet to see a bicycling-specific study on this, these are our recommended best practices for when to flash:

Daytime riding:In broad daylight there is a lot of ambient light, so a steady burn light is unlikely to stand out. During daytime riding, it’s a good idea to use your bike lights on the brightest, most attention-grabbing pattern they have, because it’s easy for drivers to judge your position when your whole bike is visible, and you want to grab attention quickly.

bike lights at night

Riding at night:High-intensity forward-facing bike lights should not be flashed alone at night, especially if they put out over 200 lumens. You run the risk of disorienting oncoming traffic (be it on 4 or 2 wheels), and make it difficult to estimate your position and speed. Having one flashing light and one steady light is a good compromise — you can grab drivers’ attention but the steady light helps improve distance estimates. Avoid extreme strobe patterns though, and opt for a pulsing light. 

Rear bike lights

Rear bike lights tend to be less bright, and are therefore more appropriate for flashing at night; however, the same principle of distance and speed estimates applies. If riding with just a single bike lights, using it in a medium-speed pulse mode is a good compromise. Using two taillights is strongly suggested though, using one in flashing mode and the second in steady burn. If you’re upgrading to a newbike light, consider one with a rechargeable battery to use in steady mode, and use your old light in flashing mode.

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