Ingenuity in the name of safety!

So I really like riding my bike. Not just for racing and exercising, but I love to commute on a bicycle. Last year I was doing it mostly on a Bianchi San Jose. Sweet bike, a lot of fun. This year it’s pretty much impossible for me to commute to / from work for the Land Trust, I need my trusty Jeep to haul tools and gear to the sites I work at. When I work at Trek it’s pretty much a straight shot to / from work along West & East washington Ave – a 14 mile commute. Driving I can do it in 15 minutes if I hit all green lights and speed like a mad-man when I would try to get to work on time as every minute used to count. When I do it at a normal pace, with red lights and some cruising music, it’s a 20 minute drive. When I go by bicycle, it takes me only 25 minutes. Guess which option I’ve took since May?

Commuting by bike is fantastic – sure, you probably need to keep a spare change of clothing at work, or with you, and possibly might need a shower – but that post-exercise euphoria and workout to start your day just cannot be beat. I feel fantastic commuting to work, and around town, and it also doesn’t hurt that Trek has it’s own commute-to-work incentive program either. ;D

I’ve been taking my beloved Ferrous to work and back. There’s basically no difference in time it takes me on my 29er than my road bike. I have lights for riding in the evening, I use my trusty bag to carry my gear, it’s sweet. I have this problem though with always losing those rear clip-on flashing lights. I mount them with the belt clips to my bags, but I guess I ride over too many pot-holes and stairs to keep them properly attached to my bike. I’ve lost 2 lights so far, and have had them fall off more times than that. I needed a more permanent solution for my rear-light-safety needs.

Trek makes these awesome lights that utilize a LED strip pushed into a super reflective covering, it’s called a Flare S. I use a special Timbuk2 bag from when the company sponsored the UW Cycling Club back in ’03. I guess it’s not /that/ special, but I’ve had it for a long time so it’s special to me. 😀 The reflective tails on them are nice, but never seemed like enough. My light would also bounce off the backpack so I thought about ways to mount a Flare S on my bag. Here’s what I came up with!

Step 1: Have a bag handy! I am using those clips in the picture to glue / fold back the bottom edge of the bag, it folded over the other way after many years of use, so this is more of a looks kind of thing.

Step 2: I played around with light placement, and found that I could mount TWO of these vertically with my bag. I cut off the plastic clips and that left me with what you see there.

I cut slits in the Codura / Rubber lining (OH MY GOD NO TURNING BACK NOW!) and inserted the lights through. I used a high strength epoxy to keep the lights in place. You can see the control box units in this picture, I can turn the lights on / off through the backpack as the button to do so is against the material.

Finished product!!!! Looks cool, eh?

It’s hard to get a picture of just how bright the red flashes – especially when your phone camera adds in a little flash. You can see how much greater the reflectivity is of the backpack now. When I have each light flashing it’s definitely an attention getter. Since I’ll be commuting many evenings home after the store closes at 10 … this is a good thing.

I’ll have to get a picture sometime of the red lights, but it’s in my car right now (ironic, I know) and I’m too cozy to move. No more lost-rear lights for me!!! I’m quite happy with the results, too bad I have to wait till Friday night to really use it.

I’m also in the hunt for a new, proper commuting bike. More on this to come later!


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About Geo

I pedal a lot and spend time on two wheels. Greenie at heart. I have one chance at this whole life thing - so I better make the most of it.

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