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Old 02.12.2009, 09:13
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Re: Cycling in Switzerland

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there're 2 points which my colleague mentioned to me, as regards to night cycling:

1. the lights should be fixed on the bike (befestigt)
2. the lights should not be blinking (passiven)

The reason i'm mentioning this is, the cyclist whom i noticed, had his rear light attached on the back of his helmet, which was then obscured by his backpack when he leaned forward during cycling.

As I understand, this would complicate matters should (touch wood) a legal dispute arise for any reason. I believe this is a good point to take note of, please correct me if I'm wrong
Both good points. I also use small helmet-mounted lights, but I would not use them as my only lights - they are in addition to my larger bike-mounted lights, not instead of. Depending on the bike and set-up, I ride with between 2 and 4 rear lights (normally 3), and 2 or 3 front lights (normally 2). Helmet mounted lights can be very useful because they are much higher up than bike-mounted lights, so are less likely to be obscured by other traffic, and if you are trying to make sure that a car coming from the side of you sees you, then you can look straight at him and your helmet-mounted blinking light then flashes right into his eyes, whilst he might not see your bike mounted light because it is directed forwards.

When on city streets that are illuminated by street lights, I have all of my lights set to blinking mode. In this situation, I use lights to make people see me and not so that I can see the road, and the blinking mode is the best at getting people's attention. If I'm in an area without street lights, I'll have at least one high-power front light on constant mode, and may also turn one of my rear lights to constant, but will always keep at least one flashing.

The law about needing to have at least one front and one rear light that is constant (and not just blinking) is out of date, it probably has not been updated since the modern blinking LED lights were developed. Some countries have recently updated their laws so that riding with only blinking lights is legal; I believe that the UK did this several years ago, but I would not be surprised if Switzerland has not done this yet. Therefore, what is legal and what is most safe do not currently match. If I only had one light, I would go with what is safest, which is to have it on blinking mode, and would not worry about what is legal. Fortunately, the police do not seem to be aware of or are in disagreement with the law, and so I have never heard of anyone being stopped because they had their lights on blinking instead of constant. The police officers seem to be more sensible and only ticket people for riding without any lights (of which there are many) rather than worrying which setting the people who do have lights are using.

In addition, all of my bikes have at least a small amount of reflective tape, with my commuting bike getting a rather large dose of it. Plus, I have a fluorescent-yellow jacket. I think it's great that I'm one of the most visible cyclists in the city, and yet I'm officially not within the law when none of my lights are on constant mode.

Other tips: I recommend against attaching your light to your backpack when cycling. This makes sense if you want to use it when walking, in which case you probably have nowhere else to mount it. However, the lights I see attached to backpacks are almost always facing in completely the wrong direction (straight up, straight down, or to the side) and so the person is effectively riding without lights. One more thing to make sure of is to make sure that if your lights are not dynamo-powered, then make sure that you change/recharge your batteries often. I see a lot of cyclists who have lights that are so weak as to be useless, but if they used some new batteries then it would have a huge effect.
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