Ride to be Seen
by Bob Zogg
A safe cyclist is a visible cyclist. Here are some tips on how to make yourself more visible to other users of the road.
Before your Ride
Your Jersey: Choose hi-visibility, bright colors, or at least light colors, even on sunny days. Such an easy thing to do, yet many cyclists don't do it. The difference it makes in your visibility is dramatic.
Lights and Reflectors: If there is any chance you'll be out after dark, be equipped with both a headlight and a taillight. Adding reflectors and reflective materials helps. To be most visible, wear reflective materials and mount reflectors low on you and your bike, respectively. Motorists' headlights are generally aimed low, and you'll want reflectors and reflective materials to be where headlights will pick them up.
On your Ride
Road Position: A courteous cyclist will generally ride on the right side of the lane or on the shoulder to facilitate the smooth flow of faster traffic. There are, however, situations when you'll want to move to the left, farther into the travel lane, so that others can more readily see you:
- When approaching side streets or driveways. Motorists pulling out from driveways or side streets generally check only for motorists traveling down the middle of the travel lanes, and often ignore the shoulders and sides of the road. Put yourself where they are most likely to look.
- When approaching intersections. Again motorists, other cyclists, and pedestrians may only check the middle of the travel lanes, so that's where you'll want to be. As an added benefit, you'll discourage right-turning motorists in your lane from cutting you off (aka, the "right hook").
Signal: Hand signals not only inform others of your intentions (slowing or turning), but the mere act of putting your arm out (or down) draws attention to your presence.
Make Eye Contact: If you want others to see you, look at them. It's amazing how effective this is. Need to move left to position yourself for a turn? Turn and look at the motorist following you (after you signal, of course) to see if they will let you merge. See a motorist ahead waiting to pull out? Look at them. Don't overdo it, though, by letting one potential hazard distract you from noticing others. Keep your eyes moving.
Make Noise: Blow a whistle, ring a bell, or shout when you're concerned that others may not see you. This is especially effective for pedestrians or other cyclists.
Safety Corner Errata
by Bob Zogg
Alert reader and CRW member Chris Lennon caught an error in my March 2011 Safety Corner article ("Ride to be Seen"). I said "Blow a whistle, ring a bell, or shout when you're concerned that others may not see you." As it turns out, a cyclist cannot legally use a whistle in Massachusetts. Massachusetts General Laws (Part I, Title XIV, Chapter 85, Section 11B (3)) say: "The operator shall give an audible warning whenever necessary to insure safe operation of the bicycle; provided, however, the use of a siren or whistle is prohibited." So, no sirens or whistles allowed! Go figure.
Chris' personal-favorite noise maker? None other than the AirZound