With the days getting shorter and daylight savings about to end, we need to think about visibility again. There’s not much point being upset with motorists who don’t see us if we haven’t done our best to be seen!
Bike riders are most vulnerable to traffic from behind. It’s easy to take evasive action when we see something in front, but you can’t see behind. So you need to make sure you can be seen easily at the back.
Now’s the time to change the batteries in your lights or make sure they’re recharged. If you don’t have lights, now is definitely the time to buy some. There’s a big range available and something to suit every budget.
How do you attach lights to your bike? Under-saddle toolkits often have a fabric hook designed to take a light. The only trouble is making sure the light actually points backwards. Too often the weight of the light pulls it forward so that it’s pointing at the back wheel. Another trap with toolkits is that they can hide your light when the light is fixed to your seat post.
As the weather cools off, you’re less likely to need two water bottles if you have two cages. Turn an old water bottle into a toolkit and store it in your spare cage. Then your rear light can be fixed securely to your seat post and there’s no danger of it moving or being hidden.
Don’t forget about your front light. Many of us have them pointed to the road surface so we can see. Try combining it with a flashing light that’s pointed up more so drivers can see it. There are some great flashing lights available that are visible for more than 500 m. They really get the attention of oncoming cars.
You’ve got new batteries and your lights are fixed securely. Are you done? Not quite. Turn your lights on when it’s dark and walk at least 100m away from your bike. Can you see it easily?
You’ll be even more visible by wearing reflective strips around your ankles or waist, or across your shoulders. Moving reflective material will attract attention quickly and that can add to the protection your lights give you.
And next time you are driving at night note how hard it is to see many cyclists, especially from behind. This is the risk you place yourself in when you ride with poor lighting.
See you on the road soon, God willing.