Family bike riding around Oakland and Berkeley
Our child is old enough to pedal themselves around to school, the library, and to sports practice. Sometimes it's hard, but usually we have a good time getting to where we need to go. We get some exercise, take in our surroundings, wave to neighbors, give names to cats and dogs, and appreciate random sidewalk finds. And we can get around in an environmentally-friendly way.
We ride around with a set of bike pole lights that I have been developing for a while. The bike flag lights make us pretty easy to spot. If you see us, wave and say hello!
I made our bike pole lights (aka the "Bike Beam" light) to keep my child visible
When we first started riding around on neighborhood streets, I realized that my child was hard to see because they were so low to the ground. Putting a tail light or head light on their bike didn't help much, because the light was only 2 feet from the ground. With some drivers already distracted by their phones or suffering from limited visibility and giant blind zones, I felt that my child was particularly vulnerable.
Bike safety flags and bike pole lights
"Regular" bike safety flags
You have probably seen these around. They come included with some bike trailers and work decently well for keeping kids visible in the daytime. They're tall, the flags are pretty visible, but a bit unwieldy for younger kids. I wrote a longer post on all the different kinds of bike safety flags.
Pole lights for ATVs
There is a subset of pole lights for riding ATVs and dune buggies in the dark. These are super bright, but probably too heavy for bicycles. They are also powered by the vehicle's power supply, so it'd take some hacking to make one work for a bicycle.
DIY kits and light poles made for bicycles
There are a few people who have made their own light up poles by combining a few different products. There are a couple of older threads about lighting up poles for Burning Man. This person made their own using a pole and EL wire.
There are a few commercial options for bicycle-specific light poles. Glowwhips makes a $200-$220 kit that comes with a mounting bracket and external battery that can attach to your bike rack. Pro Glow Sports makes a Flare Pole that consists of a light wrapped inside pole. It sells for $35, batteries not included.
The light up poles that we use for our bikes
I made a custom light up flag pole that we have been riding with and testing for nearly a year and a half. It works well for kids and adult bikes, and can be used in fair weather or in the rain. This is what we've put hundreds (or maybe over a thousand by now?) of miles on and what you may have seen around in Oakland and Berkeley. They can change colors and help bike riders become visible from all angles. It helps us feel safer while riding around town. Especially when it's foggy or dark outside.
The goal: Make it easy, safe, and fun to bike where you need to go.
The bike pole light has made it easier for us to ride together in the evening, especially during the winter months when the sun can set before 5pm. During the daytime, the flag waves in the wind, enhancing visibility. We're happy to be able to ride more to help create a joyful, healthy and sustainable world. Let me know if you're interested in learning more about these lights or if you have any ideas to share. Thanks!