Lights … Again!

Last month, we posted our annual Fall reminder about using lights at night. While many bicyclists are using lights and making visibility at night a priority, lots of people are still riding around in stealth mode, almost invisible.

You’ve seen them too (or perhaps not!): People without any lights or reflectors; others with tiny, dim lights you can barely see; oh-so-fashionably-dressed riders in chic dark clothing. While the number of bicyclists has increased dramatically over the past few years, drivers still haven’t learned to expect us and look for us, especially at night. Do you really want to trust your safety to someone who isn’t looking for you and possibly can’t even see you?

Get front and rear lights so drivers (and other bikers) can see you, and at least think about adding some reflective clothing. Lights and reflectors are the law (details), but don’t get some dinky little lights just to be legal – get something people might actually be able to see at a distance. I know that Day-Glo yellow clothing isn’t for everyone (though it is the most visible color in all lighting conditions), but there are lots of more palatable options for the fashion-minded. (I’ll admit to often wearing the Day-Glo at night, but I’ve also got a black jacket with some discrete reflective material for when Day-Glo just won’t do.) Remember that you aren’t fully visible unless you can be seen from the front, back, and sides.

Here are my own choices for total visibility:

  • Front white headlight: I use a very bright LED light with a rechargeable battery pack, usually set to flash.
  • Red taillight: My taillight has two regular LEDs, and a powerful LED strobe.
  • Extra red rear light: I commute with a backpack that doesn’t have much reflective material on it, so I added small red blinky to the back.
  • Lighted ankle straps: Yes, lighted, battery-powered and very visible from the back and sides. I know they sound geeky, but people tell me almost every night that they are incredibly visible and ask where I got them. Simple reflective ankle straps are OK too.
  • Reflective clothing: Day-Glo yellow jacket or vest, or black jacket with reflective material. All are made for cycling, wind and water resistant, with adjustable vents if you get too hot.

I don’t use all of this stuff on each and every ride, but I mix-and-match to make myself more visible as appropriate to the situation. Please give it some thought and figure out what fcvisibility options will work for you.

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4 Responses to Lights … Again!

  1. Bill November 24, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Where to buy day-glo yellow jackets?

    • David November 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

      Bill: Most major lines of bike clothing include reflective jackets, including some variety of Day-Glo or similarly fluorescent yellow. Check any bike shop.

  2. Jack December 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    I stick Christmas lights on my Trek 400 Elance for low visibility riding…both festive and safety-promoting. =P

  3. John October 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    IKEA has day glo yellow reflective vests for $4.