As an advocate of cyclists' rights and safety, I was floored when I read this article about how visible nighttime cyclists think they are and how visible they actually are. The study looked at three groups of nighttime cyclists: those who wear black clothing, those who wear a reflective vest and those who wear a vest and ankle and knee reflectors.
Study participants from each group were asked from what distance they thought they were visible at night. Both the riders who wear black and the riders who wear a reflective vest grossly overestimated their visibility. The riders in black believed that drivers could see them from about 50 meters when in reality, they weren't visible until the car was almost upon them: 20 meters. The riders in the reflective vests were similar; visible at only about 40 meters, they thought they could be seen at 70 meters.
Cyclists who wear vests and ankle and knee reflectors actually underestimated the distance from which they could be seen. While they estimated that they were visible at 90 meters, the truth is that with reflectors worn in these three locations they could be seen upwards of 115 meters away—that's over three times as visible as riders in black.
Which Rider Are You?
I hope that you take every precaution possible; that you wear not only a reflective vest, ankle, and knee stripes but a white light on the front of your bike and red lights on the back. This combination has been shown to be the most visible and safest for night riders.
And if don't have any additional reflective gear? It's time to get geared up! We've gathered the eight must-have safety items for evening and night cyclists and want to share them with you. Hopefully you'll find a new piece of gear that gets you excited about nighttime riding and keeps you safe!
Top 8 Safety Innovations for Nighttime Cyclists
- Superflash Tail Light. This light is red and has both flashing and steady options.
- Sport Spot Headlight. This is a white light that clips to the front of the bike.
- Bike to Work Britches. Reflective patches on the back pockets and under the cuffs of the pant legs make commuters visible.
- BRT Strap. Use it as an ankle or arm band while on your bike. It's made of a reflective material and has both flashing and steady lighting modes.
- Lightning Vest. As chic as it is functional, this vest is ultra-lightweight and packable.
- Spoke Reflectors. At $10 these effective reflectors give you loads of bang for your buck.
- Skyline 360. These LED lights give you 360 degrees of visibility; red lights on the back wheel, white on the front.
- Bright Bike DIY Kits. If you're more of a DIY kind of person this kit is for you. Get as reflective as you wish by adding specialized reflective strips to your bike.
What Do YOU Do to Bike Safe At Night?
We want to hear from you! Please comment below to let us know what you've done to make yourself and your bike as visible as possible in the early morning, late evening, and nighttime hours. Do you have any of the products listed above? If so, what do you think?
Also, please share this blog with anyone you know who rides a bike. By sharing you may end up saving a life or preventing a serious injury. Together we can keep our cycling community safe!