Bikes Without Lights at Night

Concept: 1 out of 5
Execution: 0 out of 5
Yeah, but: I seem to be the only one who cares.

The Long Version: I don't know if it's because of Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, or the critically-acclaimed cinematic masterpiece "Hollow Man", but many cyclists seem to think that being invisible is a good idea.

Now, if people decide that their safety isn't worth the $15-20 that a decent set of lights—or the fine for not having one—will cost, I'm not one to argue. But when cyclists choose to endanger my own safety by riding unlit, I have a big problem with that. It's enough to make me wish for a massive police enforcement effort—we seize the cars of people who drive too dangerously, don't we?

Although a certain amount of collective responsibility is inevitable on the roads, depending on someone else to ensure your own personal safety is inherently unsafe. Why not do everything possible to make things easier for the people that you depend on to not kill you?

Riding with only a tail light is a perfect example of someone who has half-considered their own protection. Cars that are overtaking bikes are going to be using their headlights, and have a much slower closing speed. That might be why it's only a front light that's required by law—for the rear of the bike a light or reflector is acceptable.

Cars that are crossing an intersection, or turning into or across traffic, can only see the narrow and quick front profile of an oncoming bike. From the cyclists perspective, they're also much more likely to appear without warning. Not having a front light is a way of putting both the driver and cyclist at a massive disadvantage.

Now it's also true that there are remarkably few collisions between bikes and cars, and that almost everyone gets home safely over and over again. But why should drivers and pedestrians need to use the extra vigilance and caution to make sure that that's the case?

Not using a front light also significantly increases the danger that bikes pose to pedestrians. Like drivers who choose an SUV in the hopes that they'll kill the other guy in a crash, trading someone else's safety for your own is reprehensible. But since these irresponsible cyclists are endangering themselves as well, I suppose they're just idiots. 


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