Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pedal Points; Visibility Part 2

Being seen is crucial for road safety, for all road users. Cyclists have the added advantage of being able to hear motor traffic. (that's why it is a bad idea to wear earphones and listen to music while riding)  Motorists generally cannot hear a cyclist which makes it particularly important to be seen.
In addition to bright clothing and lights as mentioned in my previous article, a crucial aspect to being seen is how you position yourself on the road. Many riders on a road tend to stay as close to the right as comfortable for the conditions. The rules of the road actually say that a cyclists must ride as near as practicable to the right side of the street, except when turning left from a left-turn lane.This is not always the safest approach. By riding far to the right, a cyclist often cannot be seen as well by intersection traffic because they are hidden by parked cars or vegetation. A driver tends to be looking for other cars in the middle of the road, not for cyclists in the shadows of the shoulder, or even worse, on the sidewalks (More about that on a later article) Another danger is being in the drivers' blind spot such as pulling up along a cars' right side in an intersection
Do everything you can to make yourself visible, but ride like you were invisible. Never assume a driver can see you!

Pedal Points; Visibility Part 1

One of the most effective ways of keeping safe on a bicycle is to make sure that you are seen! This can be accomplished in various ways.
Most obvious is to wear bright coloured clothing or a reflective vest. At night front and rear lights must be used. Even during daylight hours using some of the bright flashing LED lights can help in separating you from the background visual clutter that a motorist is dealing with. Making yourself stand out from the rest of the scenery helps to put you on a motorists “radar screen” a lot sooner, therefore helping them adjust their speed and path to minimize any conflict.
Statistics show that most accidents involving a motor vehicle and a bike are not where the cyclist is hit from behind, but frontal and side collisions. Hence the importance of a front light, even during daylight hours. (Use a bright light in flashing mode)
You don't have to buy the latest in bright lycra cycling garb to make yourself visible, or wear an ugly bright neon green jacket like I often wear. (Hey, I got a good deal on it and people do notice me!) Wear comfortable, normal clothes and use bright fashion accessories like scarves, backpacks, fanny bags, helmets or just throw on a reflective vest.