Anything is an improvement on chemical sticks.
Sodium gives a lovely light, but stability may be a concern.
As Phil says, lighting the outline of a shape is more effective than a brighter point of light.
Art cars take note.
And by this I mean bouncing light off the entire surface of the object lit.
3M diamondstripe (not the lesser reflective material) works brilliantly on bike frames and is effective when anyone shines a light that direction.
Great for finding your bike again in a crowd.
Often sold in zebra stripe, it is made in solid colors, and fluorescent.
Holds up to sunlight long term too.
LED through side emitting fiber optics may be the best option over elwire too.
Neon bounce lighting has been used on bikes too.
White LED glowsticks make a useful tent or portapotty light too.
Home depot has red, green and blue, which work well as a set.
Best to get units where the batteries can be changed.
Walmart used to sell a good amber light, very bright, but glued so you could not change batteries.