Having ridden my bike daily for longer than I’d like to admit, I used to experience a car coming within inches of me once every handful of rides. Generally, this was someone trying to “teach me a lesson”. While the driver had malicious intent, at least they were aware of my existence. Now, I encounter close calls at least once a ride due to rider distraction. So what options can a rider take to ensure they are as visible as possible?
The first step in rider visibility is clothing. Many clothing companies offer a wide range of Hi-Vis color-ways in their product lines. It’s more difficult to miss a rider with a Hi-Vis helmet, jersey, and shoes. A driver still has to be paying attention in order to see even the most Hi-Vis cyclist.
Light up the day
The next level of visibly comes from a more active approach, on bike lights. Companies such as NiteRider, Light & Motion, Cygolite, and others, offer top quality lights at reasonable prices. Not that long ago, LED lighting systems with rechargeable battery packs were prohibitively expensive. Fortunately for all of us, those days are well behind us. Thanks to continued advancements in the technology involved in building lighting systems, high powered lights are more efficient and affordable than ever. I recently picked up a fantastic LED system with USB rechargeable Li-Ion batteries. I use these lights when I’m pedaling around town to increase my visibility. The system included both a front and rear light. Both of which are brighter than necessary in all but the lowest settings. The entire system cost me less that $100.
Lights, Camera, Action!
For those looking to take the ultimate step in protection, on bike cameras give cyclists the security of evidence should a collision with a motorist occur. I’ve known a handful of riders who were able to prove their lack of fault thanks to on bike cameras. In the worst case scenario of a hit and run, an on bike camera can be invaluable when it comes to identifying the perpetrator. Cycliq, GoPro, and Shimano, all offer different levels of cameras to record your rides, with Cycliq taking the extra step of integrating lighting into their product design.
Whether a new rider exploring safety options, a daily commuter, or an experienced rider who has had one too many close calls, visibility is an often overlooked aspect of cycling. The prevalence of smart phones brings an ever growing number of distracted drivers. Close calls were once far less common than they are today. Luckily, we have plenty of options these days to make sure we are as visible as possible. We even have the ability to record our rides. We can use this not just to show off to our friends, but to record those who may cause us harm. Safety first, and as always, keep the rubber side down!