Friday, 18 June 2010

Cycling in London at night - more about lights

Yesterday evening I went to an event in Shoreditch, east London. I took the Trek because I was worried about my Brompton being stolen. (I can afford to replace the Trek but would have to save up to get a new Brompton even though I am insured.)

But as the train was pulling into London Bridge station I realise that I have FORGOTTEN TO PACK MY LIGHTS. My little lights are still dangling on the Brompton.

Although it was after 6pm I made a quick dash to Evans Cycle Shop at London Bridge to get a set of lights to get me home after sunset. I did consider going without, because I didn’t want to have another set of lights. But I wasn’t keen on the idea of cycling with no lights at night. (Illegal too.) As a driver I get upset when I see cyclists who do this. So I parted with £17.99 and got these Loop lights by CAT. They cost £19.99 but I get a discount because I am a member of the London Cycling Campaign.

I enjoyed my trip to Shoreditch in rush hour. I had forgotten what it was like to dodge buses and taxis and the view of the Thames River from London Bridge is stil worth it.

At 9.30pm I set off back to London Bridge to get my train. I was struck by the large numbers of night cyclists. Lots of people mainly in everday clothing using their bikes to go out and then peddal home. I can see that some cyclists are also people who work in the city and have gone to pubs and bars after work.

I get a lovely second view of the sun setting in the west as I pedal across London Bridge to the station. I arrive to discover there are no trains going to Greenwich. No trains at all because someone was killed at New Cross. (No idea what happened, but it is usually an accident or suicide.)

I cursed because I don’t have the Brompton and now I cannot get the tube or Dockland Light Rail Way to Woolwich. But I was grateful that I brought the new lights.

I left the station just after 10 pm with the other cyclists who were grateful we had an alternative to getting a taxi (very expensive) or waiting in the long bus queues.

I didn’t take a cycle route because it was faster just to stay on Tooley Street through to Surrey Quays, straight on to Deptford, up to Blackheath and into Greenwich. The roads were fairly clear, not busy but not empty. I was home in just over an hour. I saw more cyclists. A good journey to make on a midsummers night. I would have missed this night ride if I had taken the Brompton thinking I would have been safer going by public transport. It would have also taken longer.

I am also very grateful for my Gwyneth Susie Clarks sandals which are a joy to wear and cycle in.

I am impressed with the CAT Loop lights. Good lumination and very easy to place on a bike. I like the fact you have to press hard at the back to switch the light on. My other CAT lights are always turning on accidentially in my bag because the power switch gets knocked.

One last thing on lights. Some cyclists forget to check whether it is time to change the batteries in their lights. I saw a few dim and fading lights. Bike lights should be at their brightest or near close to this. I know I find it hard to tell and I am always checking. My older CAT lights then to fade a little then just stop working so I was scared of being caught out which is why I got the little lights.

The Loop lights remind me of the ‘alien’ cameras in the old War of the Worlds sci-fi film.


sheffield cycle chic said...

This reminded me - I meant to tell you how I got on with my Reelights.

In the end I only put one on the front, because of fitting problems and my panniers would obscure the rear one anyway. Although I ordered the hub gear version - it turned out I needed the disc brake version as I have roller brakes. It is not clear at all from any of the sites selling them that this would be a problem (I would've bought them locally, but no-where in Sheffield stocked them at the time).
It is also a bit annoying that you have to destroy the packaging to find this out!

As a supplementary/back-up light I think they are great. As for whether they would be ok on a Brompton, one of my work colleagues has them on his Dahon. He did have a problem with water ingress on his, but that could be a dodgy batch. They may be Danish Design, but they are still made in China!

Mike Abbott said...

Fathers day this year delivered a new rear light for the bike: the Smart Polaris R. I'd never heard of it before, and I've never seen a rear light like it. It's so bright you certainly can't look at it directly if it's in your hand. I'm all for staying as visible as possible - day or night - and this thing stands out even on a sunny day!

Cycling in Heels said...


I think I have given up on dynamo type lights. Even if they work because the small wheels of the Brompton they are very low down and I am always worried that they might not be seen which is why I had additional LED light on the seat post and handle bar. The Reelights look interesting though. Shame you can't use both.

Cycling in Heels said...

Smart Polaris R lights

I have just checked out the specification of these lights. Apparently you can see them a mile away. That is bright!