Engage Photon Drive

Dec.22, 2010, filed under Cycling, transport

avatarIt’s always the same at this time of year. The snows come, drivers behave like a pack of lemmings infected with the Rage virus, and I do the sensible thing and leave my car at home. I get to work by bike.


Yes. That is the usual response. As it happens, I feel safer on the bike. It’s smaller — at the end of the day I can throw myself off the bike onto the verge and drag it with me if I have to. I can get off and walk. More to the point, I can manhandle it around in a way I can’t do with my front-wheel drive Ford Mondeo estate, which, in these conditions, behaves like a river kayak on a sea crossing. Once it goes it goes and there’s no stopping it.

Winter cycling has its own precautions, of course. There’s triple insulation required and I even wear a lid for commuting because I’m more likely than normal to come a cropper involving a sharp fall sideways onto a kerb at low speed, the only incident for which a cycle helmet is really designed; and, more importantly, because it keeps my woolly hat on my head.

The other thing, of course, is visibility. While I refuse to dress in shades of radioactive custard, I do like the shiny. Spielberg Close Encounters Award several years running, don’t you know.

This year Fingal is rocking two CatEye LD610s, two LD170s and a Blackburn Mars 4, while I complement the ensemble with a pair of Fibre Flares on my backpack and some green rope light, just for the lulz. Up front we have a four lamp cluster comprising two Lumicycle heads offering around 50watts of in-your-face halide splendour and a couple of EL400s, because you can never go wrong with an Opticube. With a set-up like that, there’s no point in hi-viz, although I do have some reflective bands at wrists and ankles for the confusion effect (and signalling).

I took this picture on my way home tonight, outside Real Foods on Broughton Street, one of my favourite Edinburgh shops. I love the surreal colours of the evergreen on the shopfront, the Christmas decorations and Fingal’s frankly bonkers lighting.

Warp drive

If anybody knocks me down and says “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You” I may have to punch him on the nose.

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4 comments for this entry:
  1. Maura McHugh

    And as well as making you visible it’s a festive look for this time of the year!

  2. ravenbait

    @Maura (not sure I’ve got the threaded reply option on this theme, unfortunately) — I suppose it is festive, yes, although the addition of crystal stars and glow sticks during the Dumb Run each year is both more in keeping with Christmas decorations in general and at entirely the opposite side of the year!

  3. Gareth Evans

    I used to light up like that. I have a 10 mile rural commute, of which 7 miles is unlit. I realised what it says to car drivers is “up ahead is a cyclist. Fuck them”

    So now I run a 1W Radbot 1000 rear ( and a Cateye SingleShot Plus up front. NOW I look like a vehicle and cars at least act like I’m a moped or motorbike and seem to be more mature.

  4. ravenbait

    The twin lumicycles look like a tractor and on rural roads I certainly take the look like a vehicle approach. But in the city the constant glare of so many lights mean that steady beams are good for judging distance but for attracting attention you need something that moves. Humans are hunters — it’s why we have stereoscopic vision — and are attuned to movement and change. That’s why blinking lights are more eye-catching than steady ones. On my rural Devon commute I used to do exactly what you do now because the existence of lights at all is noteworthy enough.

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