Sunday, November 3, 2013

IIWK: Night Lights, Part 2

You can read part one over here.

I feel I need to make a distinction. If you've never thought about it, now's the time:

There are two kinds of lights.

You can call each of these families whatever you like, but I prefer to call them glow and shine. Lights that glow don't shine, but lights that shine also glow. So what's the big difference?

Each of these two families has a different purpose.

Lights That Glow
Lights that glow will be somewhat dim. If you hold them more than a few inches from the ground or an object, the light they give off won't be visible on the ground or the object. They'll use less battery power, either indicated by the batteries lasting longer or by using smaller batteries. Reddish-tinted bulbs usually fall into this category, as well as most types of el-wire.

Though lights that glow don't cast much light, they still can be seen from a distance by someone looking directly at the bulb. In regards to part one, lights that glow are best positioned on sides other than the direction you're traveling in. Lights that glow make you easier to be seen.

Lights That Shine
Lights that shine will be bright; if they aren't bright, then they're not shining, they're glowing. If you hold them more than a few inches from the ground, even more than a few feet from the ground, you should still see the ground lit by their light. They'll use more battery power, either indicated by the batteries not lasting as long or by using more or larger batteries. Bluish-tinted bulbs (which often look white, but actually aren't) usually fall in this category.

Lights that shine cast light. Though they double as lights that glow (but are perpetual over-achievers) their primary purpose isn't to make you easier to be seen. Lights that glow make it easier for you to see.

Any Light Is Better Than None
Both lights that shine and lights that glow are important to travel safely at night, especially if you're traveling faster than walking speed. However, I believe that having lights that glow is more important than having lights that shine. Non-motorized transportation is unlikely to be traveling much faster than 20 mph (unless you're really strong or going downhill), and at that slow of a speed, unaided night-vision is likely to be sufficient (unless you're handicapped in that regard), and lights that shine might actually make it more difficult to see.

It's like the difference between turning your car's headlights on at night and turning them on while driving through thick fog. In fog, the high-beams that are so handy at night will be a hindrance to your own visibility because the fog will reflect the light back into your own eyes. Driving without lights in fog is a bad idea too, because other vehicles can't see you. Lights that glow are most effective in fog and low-visibility conditions (like a snowstorm or rainstorm), and riding a non-motorized vehicle at night in the best of conditions is be no different.

Please, if you're out at night, wear lights!