Make Your Own Bicycle Safety Lights

When you're riding in the midst of cars 20 times your weight, our bicycle safety lights will help protect you.

| May/June 1985

  • bicycle safety lights - installed unit
    The completed and installed bicycle safety lights unit.
  • bicycle safety lights - assembling
    A mini-fluorescent lamp case is about the right size for this project.

  • bicycle safety lights - installed unit
  • bicycle safety lights - assembling

Bicycling is a great way to get exercise, and it's an economical, nonpolluting means of transportation. But sharing the same roads used by cars and trucks has obvious hazards. Every year hundreds of cyclists are injured or killed in traffic accidents simply because motor vehicle operators didn't see them.

Manufacturers have tried to make bicycles more visible by installing reflectors and by encouraging riders to wear light-colored or reflective clothing. These steps have undoubtedly made bicycling safer, but they still don't address the fundamental problem: The effectiveness of such passive devices depends entirely on reflected light from the car or truck; at times of low visibility, there's no way the driver will be able to see the cyclist until the vehicle's headlights shine directly on the reflective surface. All too often, that's too late.

If you ride at night, or even at twilight, you need a light source — one that will get the attention of automobile drivers at as great a distance as possible. To that end, MOTHER EARTH NEWS asked me to design build-it-yourself bicycle safety lights. We have done so, and we think it sets some new standards for attention-getting visibility.

This safety lamp uses flashing lights that sweep back and forth — a technique that movie marquee and arcade designers have long recognized to be eye-riveting. What's more, the appearance of the display is similar to that of many road-hazard lights, which further encourages drivers to steer clear.

Close Company

Though this project is no more complex electronically than many of those previously described in MOTHER EARTH NEWS, the size of the case and circuit board forced me to cram quite a few components into a very small space. So as you assemble the circuit board in such close quarters, your soldering skills will need to be at their best. Refer to our circuit diagram and bill of materials as you follow our assembly instructions.


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