Lights: See and Be Seen!

Halloween’s come and gone, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are fast approaching, and Christmas is just around the corner. Tis the season for lights! See and be seen on the roadways all year round by installing both a front white light and a rear red light on your bicycle. Massachusetts law is a great guide to visibility at night (link here).

There are a number of different types of bike lights out there — USB or battery-powered, low-watt or double-watt, etc. The critical part is to make sure that your lights are visible. Bikeyface had a great post (check it out here) that illustrates the importance of light placement: make sure that your long coat, groceries, or many layers don’t cover up the lights. And don’t forget your lights and batteries at home alongside your forgotten lunch!

Lights are too expensive, you say? Well, if you are a MassBike Member, be sure to check out our bike shop partners who will give you a discount on bike gear.

But why stop at just lights? It’s equally important to be visible from the sides and most light systems are not equipped to do so. Here are some ideas:

  • Pedal reflectors or reflective ankle straps (old-school pedals come with reflectors, ankle straps do double duty by keeping your pants away from your dirty chain, and some very stylish cycling shoes have reflectors built in).
  • Reflectors or reflective material visible from the side (lots of options, including wheel reflectors, reflective tires, jackets, vests, and reflective tape and stickers that can go on almost anything).
  • For instance, check out this nifty product from a Pittsburgh-based start-up, Fiks:Reflective: reflective rim stripes

You wouldn’t drive a car after dark without lights, so why would you ride a bike that way? Remember, you don’t get extra points for being a bike ninja. Be seen and stay safe!


Guest post written by MassBike’s Programs Intern Barbara Jacobson. For more info and a good read, check out our previous posts about lights, visibility, and the law: It’s Time To Light Up! | Light Up The Night!Bicycling at Night? Use Lights and Reflectors!

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One Response to Lights: See and Be Seen!

  1. dr2chase November 24, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    And if possible, be sure that the lights are aimed right. High enough to be visible to oncoming traffic, but not so high that they blind. Turn the flashers off on a path; there’s no cars there to alert, and they’re annoying to other cyclists.

    If lights are hub-powered, consider just leaving them on during the day; I do this. It seems to reduce driver “surprise”, and it simplifies the usual annoying conversations with children about lights, remembering to turn them on, and not forgetting to keep the batteries charged. They ride, they’re lit. (The lights themselves are relatively cheap and homemade).