Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bicycle Safety 101: Being Visible

One of the most important things when riding on the road is being visible. Safety first! *push nerd glasses back up on nose* You might end up looking or feeling like a giant target, but until drivers become used to bicycles on the road and/or enough bicycle facilities are built, making yourself easier to see can actually help your create a safer riding environment for yourself. You can be more visible by considering the following ideas:

Wear brightly colored clothing. Dig out that old bright orange or yellow shirt you tuck in the back of your closet that clashes with everything, opt for some snazzy neon yellow bike gear or head to the thrift store to buy something bright. Whatever you decide to wear when you ride, opt for bright, bold colors. You will be more visible at dawn and dusk, in rain and when it's cloudy. You will also just be more visible on the road and stand out from the colors of road-side buildings, sidewalks and other traffic. You may feel like you are bold and bright - but, that's because you are. *wink*

Excellent Red Rear Light
Use reflective and light equipment. This is essential! Not only because when you ride at night it's a good idea, but its also a state law (in South Carolina, you must have a front white and rear red light when riding at night). The white front light may or may not provide enough light for you to see the road. It should have enough power to help you be seen as you ride along your way. Even though I have a bright front light, I don't feel comfortable using as my "driving" headlight. I opt for roads and paths that are well-lit, that way I can see any potholes, cracks or obstacles in my path. The red rear light is key creating a presents to any traffic that's traveling with or behind you. If motorists or other cyclists can see you as they approach, then there will be more time for them to adjust and react to you appropriately (slow down, move over, etc.). Also consider having reflective items that have reflective materials like a vest, jacket, shirt, shoes and even tape. Bike wrappers even provide a way for a bike frame to be reflective.

Create a sense of personal space when you ride. Be a confident, but not overly aggressive rider. Body language can speak volumes. It can convey a sense of calm, cockiness, arrogance or respect. When riding, consider the kind of bicyclists you'd like to ride with or drive near and then be that cyclist. You can also do things like take the lane, stop a stop signs and signal lights and ride with traffic to help you create personal space and convey confidence. When you are confident in your own skills and place on the road, a driver is more likely to respond with the same kind of behavior, giving you respect and your own space. And if this doesn't happen immediately when you ride, be patient. Drivers are learning and adapting how to respond to bicycle traffic, as there weren't so many (of us) even 5 years ago on the road.

Follow the rules of the road. Common sense stuff. I'm not going to go into too much detail on this one. For more info, you can read another post about it here.

Consider these bike riding safety tips to help increase your visibility. Good things to consider and put into practice.

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