tl;dr: I ride with far too many bicycle lights: 4 front facing, 3 rear facing 5 side facing. To be seen, you only need 2 lights if you ride in the city of Vancouver, but if you want to see, you also need a helmet mounted light and if you want bike light overkill :-) you can add a fancy hub dynamo and spoke persistence of vision lights.
Yesterday I was interviewed by CBC's Margaret Gallagher about bicycle lighting. Here's a blog post with the missing details since my interview will probably be edited and quite short since it will be part of a piece with other people such as a police officer and somebody from MEC (to be aired tomorrow 22 November 2012 at 7:40a.m. on CBC Radio 1 88.1 FM in Vancouver)
If Lighting for bicycles had an Olympics, here's how it would be for those riding in the city of Vancouver
(assuming you bicycle on lit streets in the city of Vancouver and not in the forest or other unlit space; I know nothing about bicycling in Burnaby, Richmond and the rest of the suburbs; if your lights are blinking please don't point them in pedestrians' eyes!)
MEC quattro on front, plasma on back, $30 (These lights are purely to be seen; they won't help you see!)
Bronze plus front, rear and side helmet mounted headlamp e.g. Light and Motion Visibility 360, $190 (this is great solution to see where your head is pointing)
Bronze and silver plus a dynamo hub with front and rear lights available from The World Cycles, Kissing Crows Cyclery, Dream Cycle, Bikes for All,etc.
hub dynamo info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmey-Archer#Dynohub (Shimano makes them too but the Sturmey archer design dates back to 1936 in England! it was just made lighter and better when the Taiwanese company Sun Race bought Sturmey Archer in the 2000s). These hub dynamos unlike the awkward bottle dynamos you grew up don't rub on the wheel and are very efficient and have a "stand light" feature so they stay on for a few minutes after you stop! All powered by your bicycling so no batteries required and quite powerful with the latest LED lights like the ones from Lumotec and E3.
The best lights for hub dyamos are German:
This is what I have:
http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/lighting/lumotec-hub.html (Lumotec IQ CYO front; and the matching rear light)
I dream of someday owing the even brighter ones from e3
But of course my setup has even more bicycle lights, in fact it's verging on overkill, but I am quite happy with the amount of light
- In addition to the lights from the Gold Medal level, I also ride with lights on my spokes, so called persistence of vision lights. I ride with the Mini Monkey Light which displays 25 8 bit patterns including Space Invaders which I got from Kickstarter. But you can get them from good bike shops here in the city or directly from MonkeyLectric in Seattle
- But wait there's more. I also ride with the 500 Lumen Front Light Urban 500 (the Urban 500 is no longer available but you can get the Urban 550 which emits 550 lumens)
In the future I will have turn signals and perhaps more!
- I know there's a British company that makes a turn signal bicycling jacket, but I can't find the link. Here's a DIY Turn Signal Bicycling jacket.
- I have experimented with DIY Electroluminescent wire to "tron my bike" but I'd rather purchase a more polished i.e. aesthetically pleasing EL solution (and I will :-) !)
- And I'd love to have this laser powered portable virtual bike lane