Just because you can see a motorist in the nighttime sky while riding your bicycle does not necessarily mean that they can see you. In fact, consistently overestimating your visibility while riding your bike at night is not an uncommon occurrence, which can be attested to by the thousands of bicycle riders struck every year by motorists who are driving during dark hours. In fact, individuals who wear black clothing or believe that wearing a reflective vest can safeguard them completely are usually way too optimistic for their own health and safety. They often think that motorists sharing the roadway can see them at a distance much farther than they actually can.
Your reduced visibility in the eyesof drivers sharing the roadway should never be the reason to avoid riding your bicycle at night. However, it is essential to stay safe by making yourself and your bike is lit up and as reflective as possible. Lighting yourself up with reflectors can be the best solution for increasing your safety that can be accomplished by various means that include:
Wear Reflective Clothing
The clothing you choose to wear is a crucial factor in your visibility. Consider wearing the lightest colored reflective clothing possible to ensure that you are clearly and visibly seen on the roadway. This would include reflective vests and reflective tape on your leggings, jacket, vest, shoes, gloves and helmet. The more reflective clothing you wear the quicker you will be spotted on the roadway.
Light up Your Bike
Even though there are no legal requirements for the bicycle manufacturer to ensure that your bike is fitted with lights, bright lights are essential to ensure your visibility and increase your safety at nighttime. Bicycle lighting is extremely affordable and can be positioned on the bicycle within minutes. Consider installing both a front white front light and rear red light that is either static or flashing. In addition, install one or more red rear reflectors along with yellow (amber) pedal reflectors positioned on the rear and front of both pedals.
In Illinois, nighttime riders are required to fit their bicycles with two specific pieces of equipment to minimize the potential of an accident. These include:
- A red reflector positioned on the rear of the bicycle that can be clearly visible in a car’s headlights 600 feet away.
- A white front light that can casts its emitted light a distance of 500 feet ahead.
A Helmet Headlamp Is a Smart Accessory
Strapping a headlamp on both the front and back of the helmet can be a wise and practical solution for maximizing your visibility whether traveling with the traffic or crossing in the pathway of oncoming vehicles. Some helmet headlamps are equipped with blinking lights and highly reflective tape to optimize the biker’s visibility.
Static or Flashing Lights?
Many individuals wonder if it is safer to install a static light or flashing light on the front and rear of their bicycle. Most individuals would agree that the flashing headlight and taillight is easier to spot by an observer because of its “unnatural” appearance as versus a static light the tends to be less conspicuous especially among other lights viewed by the observer. However, with either choice, it is essential to ensure that the bike is fitted with a light during any nighttime riding. Counting on bike reflectors might not be adequate enough to be spotted by approaching traffic.
Riding with Caution
Even if you believe that other motorist sharing the roadway are unable to see you making turn signals with your arms, it is essential to ride with caution at all times. If a motorist following you makes you feel nervous or uncomfortable, it is essential to move out of their pathway or off the roadway and let the vehicle pass. In addition, it is crucial to watch out for any pedestrian walking on sidewalks and in crosswalks who may not be focusing on looking for a cyclist at night.
Selecting routes with minimal traffic levels and adequate lighting can help increase your visibility on the roadway. Consider taking the routes during the times of day was when there is less traffic or an alternate route that might have no traffic at all.