Worried about being seen on the road?
Stand out with this comprehensive guide.
While not all cycling accidents are under your control, and some are completely unavoidable, it’s essential to take every possible precaution to prevent them.
Along with safe cycling practices and improving your skills, the most important way of achieving this is to give other road users the best possible chance to see you.
This might seem like a simple idea – wear the brightest possible clothes – but in reality, it’s a little more complicated than this, particularly when it comes to cycling in the city.
Be Bright, Be Seen
Although more and more drivers these days are also cyclists, the vast majority still have little understanding of what it’s like to ride a bike.
A recurring theme in many incidents, particularly with cycle commuters in cities, seems to be that the motorist simply wasn’t able to judge how fast the bike was going.
It takes a good couple of seconds for the human brain to make a decent assessment of the pace of an incoming cyclist; if you don’t stand out to a motorist straight away, the time they have to judge your speed can be greatly reduced.
With a massive number of stimuli in your average street scene – including cars, pedestrians and other cyclists – there is a huge amount of information for a motorist to take in when surveying their surroundings.
Filtering the important things from this scene can be extremely challenging. This means that, at first glance at least, a cyclist may not be seen.
When choosing your kit, your aim should be to pick a combination of colors and accessories to make you stand out in the average street scene, as well as make motorists aware you’re travelling at speed.
Until recently, being seen on the road often meant sacrificing the performance of your kit, as well as making you look like a little silly.
Luckily, there’s now a huge selection of high-quality and high-vis clothing, as well as accessories, to help get you seen on the road. Let’s take a look at some of the options.
With your core presenting the largest surface of the body, with the greatest potential for getting you seen, it’s the logical place to start.
While the best option for being seen may seem to be dressing head-to-toe in the brightest possible colours, this may be missing the mark slightly; it certainly isn’t the way to go in every situation.
Different types of kits are better suited to different scenarios.
There are 2 main ways to go here:
Fluorescent clothing is designed to make you stand out under natural lighting conditions. It reflects UV light, which makes it the ideal choice for daytime cycling.
This does come with a caveat, however – cycle somewhere dark, such as a tunnel, and your visibility is greatly reduced. Don’t fret, though, we’ll discuss ways around this shortly
Reflective clothing is designed to be seen under artificial sources of light. This makes it ideal for use at night, where natural light makes way for car headlights and street lamps.
With the amount of functional, and stylish, clothing on the market these days, there’s really no excuse for not making yourself visible whilst on your bike. When you can look good and still be seen, it’s really not worth the risk.
Jerseys, bib shorts and socks are all available with excellent reflective properties, so get yourself seen.
PROVIZ REFLECT 360 VEST
PEARL IZUMI SOFTSHELL JACKET
ENDURA LUMINITE JACKET
ENDURA CYCLING VEST
When it comes to improving your visibility, you’re not only limited to clothing. While a reflective jersey goes some way to getting you seen, it’s worth investing in some additional pieces of equipment as your safety really isn’t something to take chances with.
You’ll already be wearing many of these accessories anyway, so why not help yourself stay safe and choose them with visibility in mind.
There are plenty of options in this area. Helmets, gloves, shoes are available with excellent reflective properties.
Furthermore, if you’re a cycle commuter, you should choose a backpack which provides adequate visibility; with your back covered, a regular backpack may be voiding much of the benefit from otherwise good reflective clothing.
Recommendation: adding reflective stickers to the back of your helmet goes a long way to improving your visibility.
PRIMAL HIGH VISIBILITY THERMAL ARM WARMERS
INBIKE CYCLING GLOVES
There are now a vast amount of affordable options on the market, meaning that there is no excuse for lacking a decent lighting system on your bike. There are a few things to think about when it comes to choosing your lights.
Firstly, many lights are now rechargeable via a USB port. This makes them an excellent option for those who travel to work on their bike; there’s no risk of getting caught short with a spent battery on your way home from the office.
Secondly, it’s important to take note of whether or not your lights have a flashing option. There’s a strong body of evidence which suggests that motorists are more likely to notice a flashing light then a steady beam; this makes sense given the sheer number of light sources in our cities.
Finally, it can prove very useful to buy your front and rear lights as a pair. This makes them easier to use and they can both be charged via the same cable.
It’s important to note that the use of bike lights should not be reserved solely for use at night time. As previously mentioned, they can also prove very useful for keeping you seen during the day.
An example of this is entering a tunnel. Whilst your fluorescent clothing will get you seen under natural light, it’s reflective properties will be voided in the artificially lit tunnel.
It’s important to have an alternative method of being seen. A rear light set to constantly flash solves this problem, and most lights now have the battery life to facilitate this.
BLITZU BIKE TAIL LIGHT
LE LED SAFETY LIGHTS
Stay Safe Out There
With the amount of options for improving your visibility now on the market, it’s now easier than ever to facilitate your safety whilst on the bike.
With so many variables out of your control, it’s vitally important to take charge of everything you can in order to stay safe on the road.
So, get yourself seen and stay safe out there.