Massachusetts law requires that bikes to be outfitted with a white front light that's visible from 500 feet away, a red light or reflector in back, and either pedal reflectors or reflective bands around the rider's ankles. Many riders consider this a minimum standard and enhance their visibility with some of the thousands of high-tech lighting and reflective products now available—but there is a wide range of opinion on what works best.
From our research we have found that laws and practices about riding at night vary between states and countries, and are greatly influenced by the local culture and road environment. In the Netherlands, for example, reflective materials are more commonly used on bikes, not riders. In Germany, flashing headlamps are considered hazardous and are forbidden. In some places safety equipment like lights and helmets are just not something people use!
So what's right for Medford?
We advise everyone to follow the law of course, but beyond that the best way to find out is for bike riders to bring their lights, reflectors and hi-vis gear to Bike Lights at Night on Weds., July 27, 2016 at 8 p.m. in the Riverbend Park parking lot behind the McGlynn Middle School, so we can all see for ourselves.
We'll have a panel of three judges who will be evaluating riders on how visible they are from the front, back and sides:
- using front and rear lights
- with reflective material
- in ambient light
Judges will not only be evaluating riders on whether they are seen, but also looking at:
- factors that cause lights to be blinding or annoying
- angle of light beam
While the judging won't be completely scientific—and crowd participation will be encouraged—we do want to bring objectivity to a highly-opinionated topic while encouraging conversation and providing an opportunity to learn.
Refreshments will be served
Not only should bike riding be safe—it should also be fun for the whole family. Desserts and cold drinks will be served.
Check out the Facebook event page
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How to get to Riverbend Park
We've mapped out some low-traffic routes to Riverbend Park from:
- Medford Square via Riverside Ave.
- Davis Square, Somerville via College and Willis Avenues (or take the optional high-traffic route via rough and narrow Warner and Harvard Streets)
- Assembly Row, Somerville (all on bike paths)