5 Ways To Stay Safe While Cycling

Bike Lane 2

GUEST // 09.19.2017

Author: Bryan Mac Murray

Staying Visible When Cycling Alongside Traffic

Bike Commuters Next to Bus in Portland - Trimet

Photo By: Trimet

If you are one of those who enjoys cycling, you are not alone. The healthy, fun and environmentally friendly form of transportation is gaining fans. Even so, over 40,00 people were injured in bicycle crashes in 2016. Regardless of whether cycling has become your main kind of transportation or is basically a hobby, you need to know how to stay visible on the roads so you can stay safe when riding. Here are a few tips for staying visible when cycling so you can significantly reduce your chances of being in a crash.

Dress to Stand Out

Dress to Stand Out

Photo By: Commute Seattle

You want to wear clothes that get attention. Some colors tend to blend in with your surroundings. As an example, brown or blue can mix in with the landscape, but if you wear neon yellow, hot pink, bright orange, or lime green you will stand out from your surroundings. Wearing a bright shirt or vest can help you be noticed by drivers. Wear a brightly colored helmet, shirt, vest, or jersey. The more bright colors you have on the easier you will be seen by drivers.

Visibility After Dark

If you are cycling after sunset or before sunrise, make sure you know the laws in your area. You should have a   headlight that is visible for several hundred feet and a red taillight that is also noticeable for several hundred feet. Your bike should also have reflectors on the fenders and foot pedals. You want it to be noticed from all sides. Place reflective tape on your clothing and wear reflective bands on your wrists and ankles. Wearing a reflective safety vest is beneficial and also economical.

Another option for riding after dark is utilizing multi-modal transportation. Many transit agencies around the country have taken the time to install Sportworks bike racks on buses, rail cars, and trolleys even. Utilize multi-modal transportation as often as possible.


Photo By: Trimet

Ride in a Prominent Location

You want to ride where drivers will see you. If you are riding in a traffic lane, ride in a place where drivers will have to get over farther to go around you. This will keep them from cutting in too close and sideswiping you. Strategically place yourself so you will be noticed. Don't ride too close to the curb because you could hit debris that will cause a crash.

Assume You Aren't Noticed

You should always ride with the assumption that drivers don't see you. Stay alert and be prepared to take defensive action when necessary. When you approach an intersection, you should make eye contact with drivers so you can make sure they notice that you are there. When you look each other in the eye, you are acknowledging one another's presence. Also, ride through intersections slowly with your hand on the brake so you can take evasive action if necessary. Adding a set of directional lights to your bike can help, but using hand signals is always a good way to get attention.

Other Tips

When cycling, you should always do everything you can to make sure you are visible so you can greatly decrease your chances of being in a crash. When you adhere to these tips, you can make a significant impact regarding your overall safety. Make sure you are familiar with the laws for your area so you can know what is required of you when cycling in the area. Always be prepared. Have extra batteries for your headlight and taillight and take along some reflective tape in case you need to add some to your bike or your clothing. Take responsibility for your own safety.