Visibility matters for cyclists, particularly to help prevent serious, potentially fatal accidents. Research published in Safety Science found that in a controlled trial of 6,793 cyclists, the test group wearing a yellow vest to stay visible experienced 55 percent fewer accidents with cars.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that most bicycle accidents occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.. At certain times of the year, cyclists are riding in dark conditions during these hours. To increase the chances you are seen, keep the following points in mind.
Make Sure Your Bike Has Proper Lighting
Your light may be the only way a passing car or truck can see you, especially when riding at night. In general, states require cyclists to have a headlight visible from a minimum distance of 200 to 300 feet and a red taillight.
Connecticut General Statute 14-288(a) mandates that once riding at night, your bike must have a white headlight visible from a distance of 500 feet and a red rear reflector seen from at least 600 feet.
Lights are not only required for nighttime riding; blinking lights during the day can help identify your bike in traffic.
Along with headlights and taillights, reflectors further improve your bicycle’s visibility. When you’re in motion, reflectors call attention to your presence on the road.
While reflective vests also help you be seen, motorists are more likely to notice you when you’re wearing reflective ankle and knee strips. Beyond clothing, reflective elements added to your wheels further assist with visibility. When motorists have to rely on artificial light to see through rain or fog, reflectors also improve your visibility.
Wear Bright Colors During the Day
Neon or fluorescent colors will help you stand out during the daytime. By contrast, neutral hues can cause you to blend in with traffic and decrease your overall visibility.
There’s scientific reasoning behind this: Motorists are more likely to recognize neon or fluorescent colors from a greater distance. The way fluorescent materials reflect non-ultraviolet light make it look more than twice as bright as standard or neutral colors.
Similar to reflectors, neon hues work best when you add them to areas with motion. For instance, fluorescent pants may be more effective than a vest.
Think About How You Ride
Bicyclists are required to follow all rules of the road. Yet other motorists are expected to give bike riders the same consideration as pedestrians.
Along with increasing visibility, it’s important to watch how you ride to remain noticeable at all times:
- Avoid swerving through traffic
- Don’t ride in a vehicle’s blind spot
- Avoid stopping to the right of a larger vehicle that may not see you
- Don’t ride right against the curb to prevent a car side-swiping you
- Stay partially in the lane, so vehicles can see you more clearly
- Avoid riding on the sidewalk, then attempting to merge with traffic
Two-wheel vehicles already have decreased visibility due to their smaller size, making it naturally more difficult for motorists to see you. Research has shown that drivers are processing a significant amount of information and a lack of visibility can cause your bike to get lost in their field of vision. This effect worsens when riding at night or the driver is inattentive or distracted.
Were you recently hit by a car while riding your bicycle? If you’re dealing with life-changing injuries and a difficult insurance company, bring your claim to Trantolo & Trantolo’s bicycle accident lawyers. To learn more, contact us today.