Friday, July 17, 2009

Bike Commuting 101 - Part 5 (Be seen)

Visibility is one of the most important parts of staying safe while bike commuting. Making sure other motorists see you, is probably the number one way to stay safe while commuting on a bike. High visibility clothing like neon yellow vests, reflective tape on your bike, and reflective clothing are great ways to make sure you stand out from the surrounding traffic and landscape. However, during dark or twilight hours, even high visibility clothing is not enough. It’s a good idea to have flashing lights on the front and back of your bike to keep you visible when lighting is less than favorable. Flashing lights also draw more attention to you than a steady light that may blend in with other lights in the landscape. If you look like just another porch light, motorist may not easily recognize you as a vehicle. Brighter lights are always more affective and less likely to blend into the scenery. Carry an extra set of batteries if there is a chance you might run out of juice before the end of your commute.

A common mistake of many bike commuters is riding on the sidewalk. One place you will almost never be noticed is on the sidewalk. It feels safer, but in practice, it is much more dangerous. Motorists will almost never notice you, and will often turn right into your path at intersections you will be crossing. This will leave you looking behind you at every turn looking for motorists turning into your path. While riding on the road may feel awkward at first, you will get used to the motorists and they will eventually get used to you.

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