Guest post by Molly Clarke | It is important for everyone to know basic bicycle safety in order to stay safe and be confident on a bicycle. Learning ways to stand out and be seen while riding, could save your life. Here is how.
Cycling is one of the healthiest ways to get from point A to B. Not only will commuting via bike help keep you in shape, but it also reduces your carbon footprint and is faster than driving in busy areas! One of the top ways to ensure you have a smooth ride is by staying visible. Here are some practices you can incorporate into your next ride to guarantee that any motorist or other cyclist will see you.
1. Dress to Be Seen
We're not saying you should strap Christmas tree lights to yourself and your bicycle (although if you're inclined to do so, you'll certainly stand out). But dressing as if you're about to attend a funeral isn't ideal either. Depending on when you're riding your bicycle, you'll want to wear at least one piece of either fluorescent or reflective clothing.
Fluorescent clothing is great during the day. Bright colors like orange, yellow, and lime green draw the eye's attention. At night, it is important to wear reflective clothing. Reflective clothing helps you "light up" under a car's headlights. Without it, no one can see you.
A bright and reflective vest is ideal for night-time riding:
Using hand signals will help drivers know where you're going. Avoid using traditional cyclist hand signals, like raising your left hand if you're turning right. There's a good chance motorists won't know what you mean, or worse, think you're turning in the opposite direction. A better idea is to simply point directly in the direction you intend to turn so there's no doubt as to where you're turning.
3. Don't Pass Motorists on the Right.
While it's tempting to weave expertly through a line of idling cars at a red light, always try to do so to the left of vehicles. When you pass on the right, you face two situations where you won't be visible:
The cars you're passing won't see you. Motorists in a line of traffic don't expect a cyclist to approach from the right, and they certainly won't be looking to their right to see if another car is in the way, as there wouldn't be space for one. This sets you up for the right hook.
Oncoming traffic also, will not see you. A bicycle is much smaller than a car, so if you're hidden behind a motorist you're passing on the right, a car could turn directly in front of you.
4: Enforce a 4' Rule
Getting "doored" is one of the scariest situations for any cyclist. The best way to ensure a motorist doesn't open their door in front of you is to make it mathematically impossible to do so. An average car door is about 5' long. A good rule of thumb is to be 4' away from any parked cars. If you can reach out and touch the car's mirror, you're too close.
The 4' rule also helps protect you from pedestrians that may step directly into your path. Pedestrians typically only look for cars so sometimes, they may not see you. Leaving 4’ between your bike and the curb ensures that you won't have any close calls with pedestrians.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay seen?
This article was created Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally!