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While simple and clever are high on my list of qualities to look for in any product, fun counts for a lot too. The BikeGlow Safety Light easily fits the bill there. Designed in bike-friendly Santa Cruz, California, the $24.95 BikeGlow Safety Light is a 10 foot long electroluminescent tube attached to a lightweight, waterproof battery pack. Pop a couple of AA batteries in (you’ll need a screwdriver, waterproofing doesn’t come easy) and use the included strap to attach it under your seat, then wrap the tubing around your frame. Secure it with the included zip ties or a bit of tape, and you’re ready to go. A single button turns it on steady, slow flash, or rapid flash.
Installation was simple enough, but what really counts is how it functions in actual use. I attached it to my Wabi Classic, which is anything but a night-time commuter bike, since it has not even one reflector, and sent my friend’s kid off for a few laps around the neighborhood at night. My panel of highly-qualified testers consisted of neighbors that happened to be outside at the time. We tried all three patterns, and had him ride at us as well as across our path from either side.
The verdict? At a distance, the rapid flashing setting was the most effective at getting attention. From the rear, visibility drops off quickly as distance increases, but from the side, it’s much harder to miss at those same distances. It would make an excellent supplement to red rear and white front lights in cities and neighborhoods where traffic rarely exceeds 25-35MPH. Motorists traveling beyond those speeds are unlikely to see you until they are right on top of you. So on its own, I wouldn’t be totally comfortable using it to make myself seen. Don’t get me wrong, I like the BikeGlow – it’s a really fun piece of gear, and definitely an attention getter. But if this product were incorporated into a vest, helmet, or other clothing, it would be even more effective. And it’s got a lot of potential off the bike as well, if you’re into raves. One note: You may also want to check local laws before firing up a red or blue flashing light, even on a bicycle.
Photo coming soon