Cycling is one of the best ways to commute. Not only do you reduce your footprint on the environment, but it’s a great way to stay fit. Unfortunately, even the safest cyclist is no match for a careless motorist, which is something the 45,000 cyclists injured in 2015 can attest to. One of the best ways to prevent crashes from happening is by making sure you keep yourself visible. Here are some top ways you can make yourself seen when riding among cars:
1. Dress for the Occasion
Now we’re not saying you should light yourself up like a Christmas tree, but wearing all black is usually not the best idea if you’ll be riding alongside cars, especially if you’re riding at night.
In the daytime, fluorescent clothing is much more visible than any other colors. This includes hunter orange, bright yellows, pinks, and greens. Even if you’re not required to do so by law, a helmet can be a great addition as it’s a great opportunity to mount lights, reflective tape, and other types of visibility aids. At night, the color you wear doesn’t really matter, but having reflective clothing is key. A nice piece of equipment to wear that hits two birds with one stone is a reflective & fluorescent vest, similar to ones utility workers use while working in traffic.
2. Ride Predictably, and to the Right if Possible
Much like motorists themselves, bikes also have an obligation to follow the rules of the road. Motorists will expect cyclists to be near the right of the lane, or in a bike lane. If you can do so safely, try to ride to the right or in a bicycle lane. There are of course many exceptions to this rule:
- The bicycle lane is obstructed and unsafe
- You’re turning left
- There’s not enough space for you on the right
- You’re passing a line of parked cars, whose doors might open unexpectedly
As for riding predictably, do not weave in and out of lanes erratically. When or if a motorist sees you and tries to pass, he’ll expect you to remain in your lane. Unless you’re turning, be sure to stay predictable so as to not catch a motorist off guard.
3. Make Sure Your Bicycle has the Required Reflectors & Lights
A bicycle is required to have one red rear reflector and a white headlight in nearly every state. Side reflectors and additional lights will additionally go a long way in helping keep you safe on the road. Keep in mind that it might not be a motorist’s fault if he hits you and you had absolutely no way to be seen at night.
4. Use Turn Signals
There is no reason to not signal when riding a bike. If you don’t use turn signals, be sure to familiarize yourself with the standard signals and practice them on the streets. A lot of motorists are unfortunately confused by a right turn signal, but keep in mind you can signal that you’re turning right with either arm.
If you don’t want to mess with the hand signals, you could always invest in a little electronic signal to attach to the back of your bicycle. This will give motorists no excuse for not noticing your turn.
By following some simple visibility techniques, you can dramatically reduce your chances of getting involved in a crash with a motorist.