Personal Injury Law
Staying Visible While Cycling
Cycling is a great way to stay in shape and reduce your carbon footprint. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to stay away from motorists when you’re cycling, especially if you’re using your bike to commute to and from work. If you find yourself alongside traffic often, one of the best ways to avoid crashes is to stay visible. Here are some top tips you can keep in mind to ensure that everyone on the road sees you.
Tip #1: Dress Visibly
Now we’re not saying you should feel obligated to string a bunch of lights to yourself and look like a disco ball, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by dressing in all black either. A good idea is to try to wear at least one piece of clothing that’s highly visible, depending on the time of day you’re cycling.
In the daytime you should try to pick something florescent. Bright green, yellow and pink are all easily spotted from afar and stand out against any background. When you’re riding at night, it doesn’t really matter what you’re wearing because nobody can see you anyway. Try to wear something that’s reflective so you’ll stand out against a car’s headlights. Buying one reflective and florescent vest can knock out two birds with one stone.
Tip #2: Proper Lighting
Make sure your bike has the proper lighting if you are out before dawn or after dusk. You need a clear headlight that is visible for several hundred feet. You should have a blinking taillight that is also visible for several hundred feet. Take along extra batteries, so you are prepared if you need them. Even add a light on your helmet to help see and be seen. Brands such as Garmin and Wahoo offer radar that provide visual and audible alerts to warn cyclists of approaching vehicles.
Tip #3: Use Hand Signals
You always want motorists to know your intent when you’re cycling. Hand signals are great, but it’s usually wiser to not use traditional cyclists hand signals, like raising your left hand when you’re about to make a right turn. While this will work well in a group of cyclists, motorists may have no idea what you mean and even worse: they may think you’re about to turn left. Simply pointing in the direction you’re about to turn should work for everyone.
Tip #4: Do Not Pass on the Right
It can be very tempting to pass motorists on the right, especially if you’re in a line of idling cars at a red light. You should never pass on the right because it’s almost impossible for motorists to see you on their right. There’s a large blind spot and you run a big risk of getting hit by a car making a right-hand turn if he or she doesn’t see you. You’ll also be a lot harder to see by oncoming traffic if you’re passing on the right because you’ll be hidden by other cars.
Tip #5: Stay in the Center of the Lane
If you’re riding at the same speed as other motorists, you should actually try to not hug the right so much. A cyclist in the middle of the lane is a lot easier to see than one who’s right on the edge of the road. You’ll also avoid any passengers exiting parked cars along the side of the road. Most passengers don’t look over their shoulders when leaving cars, so if you leave about 4’ between your bike and a car, it’ll be impossible for you to get doored. A good rule of thumb is if you can reach out and touch a parked car’s side mirror, you’re too close.
This article was created Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally!