Jose Menendez is the bicycle light man of Tampa and he regales us with some of his tales. Jose, take it away:
As many of you know, when I'm riding at night, I try to make myself very visible. My bicycle has 2 headlights, 3 tail-lights, extra reflectors, and reflective tape. I also have a bright headlight on my helmet and wear a reflective vest and wristbands. I'm such a conspicuous sight, people often yell out comments when they see me.
Just a few nights ago, I turned onto a quiet street. Two teenaged boys were walking toward me along the opposite side. As I got closer, the boy in front called out, "Hey! You need all them lights?"
"Yep!" I replied.
"Why?" he called back.
Before I could answer, the 2nd boy yelled at him, "So nobody won't hit him, fool! What d'ya think!"
That really made me laugh. It was nearly as funny as the night a man standing in his front yard stared at me as I rode up his street, then turned toward his house and yelled, "Hey! Come look at this [vulgar expletive deleted]! He's all lit up!"
Here are some other comments that people have shouted at me while I was riding at night:
1. "Damn, you've got lights everywhere, bro!" (Heard while riding home from the last BPAC meeting.)
2. "Hey, E.T.!!" (Screamed by a passing carload of girls.)
3. "Man, if people can't see you, they can't see nobody!" (Yelled by a motorist who actually stopped his car in the middle of a street till I rode by.)
4. "If people can't see that getup, they must be blind!"
5. "Oh! He's got a flashlight on his head!"
6. "I love your lights!" (Followed by a loud rebel yell as if she'd been cheering at a country music concert.)
7. "Excellent job with the lights! Excellent job!"
8. "Where'd you get those kickass lights?" (Shouted by another cyclist.)
9. "Can we have some of your lights?" (Shouted by a group of pedestrians on a sidewalk.)
10. "Got enough lights on that thing?"
11. "I see you coming!"
12. "People can see you coming a mile away!"
13. "That's the way to be lit up! You know how to not get hit!"
14. "I'm so glad you've got all those lights, or I might not have seen you!"
This is the cutest example: One night I turned onto a quiet street and saw two little girls (maybe 7-9 years old) standing next to it about 100 yards away. They stared at me, and one of them, who looked a little older, said to the other one, "What is that? What is that?"
When I was about 100 feet from them, they started to step into the street. Worried they might walk in front of me, I hit my brakes and stopped next to them. They looked like sisters, and after staring at my bike for a moment, the older one said to me in a hushed tone, "What is that?"
"You mean my bike?" I replied in surprise.
"Why is it all lit up?" she asked.
"Oh," I replied, "that's so car drivers will see me and not run me over."
I said goodbye, and as I started to pedal away, I heard the same girl say, "What a cool bike!" That really made me smile. I wonder if they asked their parents for a lot of lights for their bikes.