Friday, February 09, 2007

Cool Neon for your Bike

And here’s my second idea for side lighting -- possible even 360 degrees lighting -- though I haven’t tried it yet. I got this idea when I attended the bike light parade last November, where I saw it in action on the bike of the person who runs around Portland giving away free bike lights to the lightless. If anyone knows this guy or even his name or how I could reach him, please let me know because I want to talk to him about his work. In fact I want to see if I might join him in some way. He is the Mother Theresa of bike lighting, and I want to be like him. When I ride by other cyclists who are unknowingly on a suicide mission because of their inadequate lighting, I want to accost them, grab their shoulders and shake them thoroughly for several minutes, and then force them to let me install a front and back light on their vehicle. (I'm not sure this is exactly his approach, but that's how I'd do it.)

Anyway this guy was at the parade on the most amazing contraption of a bicycle, which as you might expect was the most lit up vehicle on the streets of Portland, even way more than any cars. In and out of his spokes, in big circles around his wheels, he had woven this illuminating plastic cord. And I don’t mean illuminating when hit by car lights, I mean illuminating in the pitch dark all by itself.

No doubt at one time or another you’ve been to some kind of outdoor music event at night and seen people wearing lit-up plastic halos of orange or some other bright color. The trouble with those is that (1) they’re disposable and I don’t like to buy disposable items and add more junk to the land fills; and (2) what I’ve always wondered about those things is What on earth are you putting on your head? What kind of radioactive hell are you so happily exposing yourself to? Do we have any idea? I don’t. Call me chicken, but I’m not adopting any glow-in-the-dark wardrobe items till I get more information.

And we all know what a time-consuming proposition “getting more information” is. Anyway I asked this guy at the bike light parade where he got the amazing glow-in-the-dark tubing. All the bikes were milling around and I didn’t have time to talk to him about it in detail. But I can’t believe he’d go to all the trouble and expense to weave miles of it into his spokes if it only lasts a couple of hours. So maybe there’s a new kind that you can at least turn on and off and make it last longer. And if it is toxic, maybe I could live with it, since presumably wearing it on one’s bike would be much less risky than wearing on one’s body. You have to weigh whether it's more toxic to ride around on an underlit bike, or implement toxic accessories. On the other hand if it's toxic, why is it even being maufactured? All this is what I have yet to find out. When I asked him about it, he only managed to call out to me as we rode by each other “”!

I’ve visited the site briefly, but I have yet to explore it enough to answer all my questions. I’m a little short on time right now, but you go right ahead.


At 7:31 PM, Blogger The Alley Cat said...

You found it! I've been looking around for something that glows in the dark. I even tried sites that sell motorcycle lighting. This looks much better. I did some investigating and posted it along with the Knog light I found.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger said...

what you're describing sounds like EL wire, which is itself non-disposable, not stupidly expensive, available in many lengths, colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors, and is power-able by myriad sources, not limited to batteries and generator hubs! googling it will turn up many vendors, how to pages, etc etc.

here's my favorite bike-lighting-project, which i have yet to get for myself, though, i'm not sure why!

Spoke persistence of vision

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Buzz said...

Coolneon EL Wire is awesome for lighting up your bike. Here in Denver we have a Moonlight Bike ride around downtown every summer. My wife and I use to make our bikes glow. Makes you very visible and is a great place to do business with.

You can zip tie it to your frame and bars. You can solder together different colors to accent your design. Awesome stuff!


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