Blinkers, the ultimate bicycle safety light is a wonderful tech invention from Swiss-based Velohub AG.
In the words of our guest reviewer Julian Kenny, “The new Blinkers bicycle lighting system is just what we all need to ensure bicycles get the hi-res visibility we so desperately need to stay alive.”
Julian is not dramatic. A report from the Australian Automobile Association shows Australian cyclist deaths jumped from 25 to 45 in 2017-18 – an increase of 80%.
The Bicycle Network chief executive, Craig Richards, said the report showed the current approach by states and territories is not working and there needs to be immediate intervention.
“Bike rider fatalities in Australia haven’t decreased for two decades, and sadly it seems there will be no improvement in 2018-19.”
But the story goes far further than cyclist deaths. The total bicycle crashes in Sydney (chart below) especially in the congested Sydney CBD reveals 1900 crashes in 2017-18 resulting in injuries.
Bicycles are vehicles and subject to the same road rules as cars. That includes
- Must wear approved helmets.
- Riders over 16 years old must not use the footpath and must give way to pedestrians when on shared bike paths.
- Must have at least one working brake and a fully functioning bell, horn, or similar warning device.
- If riding at night or in hazardous weather conditions, the bike must display a flashing or steady white light from the front, and a flashing or steady red light from the rear. The bike also requires a red reflector which is visible from the rear.
- Must give a hand signal when turning right or merging to the right lane. When signalling, do so about 30 metres before you turn or change lanes or lane position.
Review: Blinkers bicycle safety lights
Hi, I am Julian Kenny, and I ride both a motorbike and a bicycle, so I am extra bike aware. I recently rode in
I am not a reviewer – just a handy bike rider that GadgetGuy could co-opt.
“You know what’s it like, over the crest and enjoying the freewheeling descent, when an SUV rocks up to a crossroad below. You intend to turn right just past that point, and you want to tell that to the motorist, but you’ve got both hands on the brakes. Stay where you are, dude! I’m on a bicycle here!”
The new Blinkers bicycle lighting system is just what you need at this moment, allowing you to flick on the right indicator and focus on staying alive!
Bicycle accidents are the norm, not the exception. And for fear of upsetting casual bicyclists it is because we can approach speeds of cars, we are riding a flimsy device without protection and often too busy to indicate.
A hand signal is necessary on a bicycle but not in a car or motorbike. That is because Australian design rules make it mandatory to have front and rear ‘blinkers’ – indicators that are easily accessed by a driving column stalk. A bicyclist does not usually have that convenience, let alone such visible indicators.
What is a Blinker?
Blinkers come in two types – a rear blinker with a hand control or one with a laser perimeter projection system as well. If night riding is your thing, I recommend you get a pair – one each for front and rear.
There have been bike indicators before, but none so clever. Providing the usual range of front and rear lights – on, flashing, pulse and off – plus a self-cancelling left and right indicator in a robust 75mm casing that resembles a Klingon Bird of Prey, the Blinkers units are highly visible, waterproof and easy to use.
The laser perimeter projection system is amazing and puts a highly visible green laser light on the road in the front and rear of the bike.
Ikea-type instructions illustrate how to assemble the mounts to the handlebar and under the saddle.
The light units themselves attach magnetically, in case you stop at the wrong sort of café and need to tuck them into your backpack. Every time you magnetically click them into the secure mount it flashes to indicate remaining power levels.
A simple remote control connects via Bluetooth to the lights and attaches to the handlebars within easy reach of whichever thumb you choose, with ‘up’ to adjust the front beam, ‘down’ for the rear, and ‘L’ and ‘R’.
Use on the road
On the road, nothing could be easier, because the indicators self-cancel after 12 seconds (18 flashes). You can easily interrupt the flashing (press ‘L’ or ‘R’ again).
The whole Swiss-made unit is solid and so unobtrusive that the biggest challenge is remembering your new capability. A few motorists nodded in recognition, as though more lights assuaged their in-born road rage.
Interestingly, there is a brake light that comes on automatically under deceleration. This is great stuff.
If you order the laser version, it puts a hi-vis green semicircle of light around the bike.
Blinkers are IP64 water resistant. You can ride with it in the rain or snow.
The Blinkers produce 100 lumens at the front and rear dual brake light and 30 lumens for the rear red ‘reflective’ light. While it can replace a headlight, you may want to invest in a dedicated lamp of 500 lumens or more. See GadgetGuy’s review of the Thor Q8 torch here.
It recharges the 3200mAh battery via an attractive red USB-Mini USB cable. I used a 5V/2A wall charger. Run times are 25-30 hours. If you use them a lot, buy a small battery power bank for emergency top ups.
The remote control uses a CR2032 coin cell, good for ten months – or until it stops working.
My take – Blinkers should be mandatory
Developed in Europe where bicycle transport is more the norm, the Blinkers lighting system delivers on its brand promise to make “the urban cyclist visible, predictable and respected”.
So, next time you’re up on the pedals, pulling on the bars, climbing that hill with all your might, it might come in handy to tell the motorist on that side road just what your intentions are.
And after the ride, these adaptable lights will come in handy for that occasional backyard dance party too.
You can buy online here
Bicycle Safety advice from Blinkers
Having adequate lighting on your bicycle is a legal requirement when cycling in the dark. Not only are lights vital for being seen by other road users but they can also offer better understanding between cyclists and vehicle users due to the increased functionalities such as turning indicators, brake lights and laser projection.
2. CLOTHING CHOICE
Clothing choice should have the dual function of keeping you warm as well as making you visible to other road users. Pack layers in anticipation for a temperature drop, waterproofs for those damp days and don’t underestimate the value in having reflective panels, fabrics and designs on your clothing.
3. REFLECTIVE ACCESSORIES
Invest in some reflective accessories such as wristbands, anklebands, reflective strips, stickers or tape to enhance visibility & add to your safety.
A pair of clear glasses are a wise accessory to have to reduce the loss of visibility and protect your eyes from debris, mud & grit thrown up from the road, strong winds and spray on those wetter journeys.
If you have a choice, try and stick with routes you are familiar with to avoid any unknown obstacles, poorly surfaced roads or complicated junctions. Testing the route out in daytime & planning your journey is beneficial to make you more at ease with night cycling.
6. BUDDY UP
Night cycling can be daunting, especially in the beginning, so buddy up with a friend or join a local organised cycling group. You will be grateful for the company & help should you ever unfortunately develop a mechanical problem.
7. STAY VIGILANT AND NEVER ASSUME
Cycling can be risky at the best of times, never mind in the dark. Stay vigilant (as you would in daytime cycling) for any hazards and never make the mistake of assuming, even if lit up like a Christmas tree, that a driver has seen you when completing a manoeuvre.