TL:DR- In this guide we cover how to be seen on a bike, when visibility is low, along with some recommendations for bits of bike safety gear you may want to look at, to make that happen.
Why Cycling Visibility Is Important
As far as general road safety is concerned, visibility is as important as vehicle condition. Regardless of whether you’re driving an eighteen-wheeler lorry or riding an electric bike, other road users need to be able to see the whole of your vehicle and your intent when using the road to able to safely adapt to the traffic conditions. This is especially true in the case of bicycles due to their smaller size and lack of headlights and a significant horn.
In fact, the majority of accidents on the road involving bicycles occur due to poor visibility. While it would seem reasonable to assume that most of these accidents take place at complicated sections of road such as roundabouts or junctions, research offers evidence to the contrary. Such incidents are far more likely to occur on straight roads, usually with higher speed limits. This could be because drivers are more consciously focused on looking for places where larger vehicles such as other cars could emerge and cyclists, who often overestimate their own visibility, blend into their surroundings.
Since so much attention is given to steering and pedalling, it can be easy to forget to keep asking, can I be seen? Here are some top tips to help you stay visible and safe when out riding.
Best Bike Lights For Visibility
While we are talking about visibility and being seen on your bank in low light, let's talk about what we believe are the best bike lights for visibility. Indicating with your arm is one of the best known techniques for letting other road users know what you are about to do, but when light dims or if drivers are being a little short sighted you could do with an upgrade.
Presenting the Indik8a hand lighting system. This great gadget slips over your hand and picks up on the movements you are about to take. You want to head right, let's do that with lights too. Using lighting along with the movement gesture is said to improve drastically the visibility of the maneuver signal.
Best Helmet Colour For Visibility
You may have seen goalkeepers in football wearing loud and bright coloured sports tops, this isn't because they are trying to impress upon the world their personality, but more about the affect of colour.
Colour has an impact visually and mentally on the viewer. From grabbing our attention, making us stand out, making us seem imposing or even making us look slimmer. From stripes to print blocking, what we wear and where we wear it can have an impact on those around us. None more so then can be said about the choice of colour when picking a bike helmet, and we thought we would quickly cover the best helmet colour for visibility.
How do we establish the best helmet colour for visibility?
In order to work out the best helmet colour for visibility, we use something known as the visibility index. This looks at degrees of brightness in differing light settings to establish visibility. This can be boiled down to three colours to look out for depending on the circumstances.
- Best Helmet Colour For Night Cycling - Yellow
- Best Helmet Colour For Day Cycling - Green
- Best Helmet Colour For All-Round - White
These colours have the highest visibility index and can be seen for further in those conditions than other choices such as black or maroon etc.
What Cycling Clothes Improve Visibility
It may seem obvious but wearing clothing that gives other road users the best chance of seeing you in all conditions is fundamental to safety. Fluorescent clothing is, of course, the best bet for all weather conditions. Research has shown that wearing bright colours on the legs makes you much more visible than wearing a brightly coloured top due to the increased movement in the lower portion of the body when pedalling.
Orange and yellow are the most effective colours as they are unnatural and so stand out against the roadside, which is why orange accessory products can make an incredible difference. It is important to remember to wear clothing with reflective sections that will work at night; reflective material is three times more visible at distance than white clothing and ten times more visible than blue clothing.
Working tail lights are also highly important; in this case, research favours flashing lights over those with a constant beam during the day and solid lights at night. Indik8a’s (which fit over cyclists hands like gloves), flash bright orange LED arrows at the push of a button located on the index finger, products like these can be crucial when on the road. On this note, using front and back taillights has also been shown to reduce the likelihood of a crash by 19%.
Road Positioning Tips
Road positioning is also important when riding especially in build up areas with parked cars at the side of the road. It is important to leave yourself enough space on either side at all times. Car doors may open on your left while other vehicles will be trying to pass on the right. Often, cars will turn without indicating or move over to the right before turning left. Always anticipate the actions of other road users and remember not to try and enter small spaces that could be blind spots.
Decision Making Helps Visibility
Knowing your route can help you make committed decisions when riding which assist other road users in understanding your intentions. Avoid riding on the pavement outside of dedicated cycle lanes as switching between the pavement and the road is confusing, illegal and dangerous. Making clear hand signals in good time is important however, this may be more difficult when riding at night. There are a number of products that can aid in making you more visible when turning at night. These include Indik8a, which was designed to make cycling at night safe!
Outro: What Now?
We can talk all day about shiny helmets and bright lights, but what about a sparkling new bike to show off your whereabouts instead? Hit the banner below to check out our range of bikes and see why your next bike could be electric.