HOW IMPORTANT ARE BICYCLE LIGHTS AT NIGHT?
Bicycle safety studies regularly confirm that on average 95 percent of bicycle trips occur during the day, and roughly 50 percent of bicycle accidents occur at night.* This equates to the fact that the very small percentage of night time bicycle trips are the source of half of all bicycle accidents. Although precise figures will vary by location, time of year and geographic latitude (i.e. more hours of darkness per day => more night time accidents), this proportion is generally consistent across traffic safety studies. It is also worth noting that beyond accounting for a disproportionately high number of bicycle accidents, those that occur at night are also more likely to end in fatalities compared to accidents occurring during the day. In this light, it should certainly not escape mention that alcohol consumption – whether by the operators of motorised vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians – is an important variable in night time bicycle safety.** There is very little controversy about whether having effective front and rear bicycle lighting on your bicycle would significant reduce bicycle accidents at night.
Who has not ridden home in the dark after a night out without lights – including those who have purchased battery powered ones? No one on the IDC staff can honestly avoid raising a hand in response to this question. The point is not embarrass but to underscore how easily (and often) even the most well intentioned and well equipped of cyclists can find themselves riding in the dark without lights. Comically, one early study showed that even people with high aptitudes for learning, and large financial stakes in survival, were often found bicycling at night without lights – even in the wake of a public education campaign on night time bicycle safety targeted directly at them.*** Reasons for absent bicycle lighting were in reality understandable and likely common to all of us at some time. Some simply admitted that they had “forgotten” to bring lights, others had underestimated when it would get dark at time of departure, yet others found their batteries depleted earlier than anticipated. Yes, oversights happen and they will continue to occur as they are part of the human condition.
These realities underline why IDC considers the convenience and reliability of dynamo based lighting systems not merely a "frill" but and key component of safety and security for cyclists. Indeed, the convenience of having lights permanently fixed to a bicycle together with a generator ever ready to supply power to a lighting system whenever the bicycle is in motion – can be a crucial factor in bicycling safety. This factor allows generator based lighting systems carried by IDC to provide a level of night time bicycling safety unattainable with the battery lighting systems that currently dominate the global market.
* Edgar Snyder & Associates, “Bicycle Accident Statistics", accessed 22 January 2013.
** In the case of Edgewater, FL for instance “Nearly 60 per cent of all adult fatal bicycle accidents in Florida occur during twilight and night hours although less than three percent of bicycle use takes place at that time.” See: seattlepi (2007), “Night Cycling: Is it Safe?”. Blog, accessed 21 January 2013.
*** Fergueson, Brett and Neville M. Blampied (1991), “Unenlightened: An Unsuccessful Attempt to Promote the Use of Cycle Lights at Night”, Accid. Anal. & Prev. Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 561-571. Printed in Great Britain.
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