When to use flashing bike lights?
Flashing lights is one of the most common features of bike lights. Even cheap bicycle lights under $20 or the top bicycle lights over $100 are equipped with flashing features.
But here's the truth, flashing bike lights aren't always safe. This is something not all bikers know, so they end up using their bike lights whenever they feel like it. You should know when to use flashing bike lights to avoid road accidents.
What is a flashing bike light?
A flashing bike light is a feature in which the light flickers into higher lumens. For example, if you're running on a 120 lumens brightness level, your flashing feature will max it out to 1100 lumens.
This is the dangerous thing about flashing bicycle lights. This high level of brightness can cause confusion to other road users. Worse, it can even inflict momentary blindness to drivers, which may cause road accidents.
The most common bike lights to have flashing features are rear lights that serve both tail and brake lights. They usually run with low lumens as tail lights, but they will burst into their maximum brightness output once you hit the brake.
This shouldn't be the case. Instead of alerting the vehicle behind you that you will come to a full stop, you will end up blinding them. As much as possible, use a brake light with engineered optics that will give you complete visibility without blinding other drivers.
When to use flashing bike lights?
It would be best if you only use flashing bike lights when riding in the daytime in a fully lit environment. The same goes with using the maximum brightness of your bicycle lights.
You would need the burst or flashing lights in these situations since it would be harder to see your bike lights with all the lights around you. You also have less risk of blinding other drivers even with a bright bike light.
Never use your flashing bicycle tail light at nighttime, whether you're driving in the city or the trails, especially on blind spots and curves. The ultra-bright lights will cause momentary blindness to other road users.
Is it illegal to have a flashing light on your bike?
Contrary to popular belief, there is no road regulation or road ethics that require flashing lights. Even if you're braking or signaling, no law requires you to use flashing lights.
According to international laws, bikers are only required to use hand signals to communicate with other road users. For the United States, bikes should have reflector stickers for visibility, while the United Kingdom and Oregon State in the US require the use of essential bicycle lights such as front lights and rear lights.
But no laws talk about the requirement or prohibition of flashing lights. This means it is not illegal to have a flashing light on your bike.
However, road regulators are definitely allowed to call your attention should your flashing light disrupt traffic or cause a road accident. Should this happen, it's best to switch to another top bike light that fits your environment and riding habits. After all, a bike light with good internal reflection is more visible than a bike with high lumens.
Even though you're already used to your flashing bike lights, always consider that they might cause discomfort to other road users. After all, no one would want to get into a biking accident just because of a flashing light.