Night rides are increasing in popularity as the summer heat rages on leaving the evening as a cooler and often more convenient option for many professionals working during the day. But staying safe at night has its own challenges, chiefly how well once can be seen from the road. Rider visibility comes down to a combination of how reflective your lights are, how bright your gear is, and how high contrast you appear to passersby. The biggest reason that you will be seen is that the brain of the vehicle operator finds you distinctive enough to distinguish from the rest of the road. Our brain is designed principally to help us survive. Many people aren’t aware of what gets the attention of our brains. Motion is the #1 reason that humans are still alive today. It’s our number one survival technique and a key concept to understand when it comes to safety on the road. Don’t believe me? Next time you are streaming on Netflix look up Brain games, Brain Games, Season 2 Episode 3, "Motion Commotion" (or check it out above) and you will see how your eyes and brain work together to keep you alive.
Let’s Talk Reflective Lights
The appeal of night riding for many bikers comes is the temptation of less populated roads, cooler air, and a quieter environment. However, any biker interested in those sunset, sunrise or nighttime rides should be in the market for reflective lights. They act as a safety measure for both bikers and passing cars, and in states like Colorado some form of reflective lights are required between sunset and sunrise. In addition to alerting cars and other oncoming objects, reflective lights also illuminate potholes, rocks, and other hazardous materials in the road making night riding safer than ever.
At night most cars aren't on the lookout for bikers, and so it falls on the biker to take extra precautions to make themselves seen to the objects passing around them. This can be done through reflective lights or clothing. Bicycling.com highlights a study done in 2012 that analyzed drivers retention rate for reflective lights. The study found that 67 percent of drivers identified bikers wearing reflective vests and when bikers wore ankle and knee reflectors that identification rate jumped to 94 percent. This study speaks volumes to the importance of reflective lights and their impact on passing drivers.
How Bright is Too Bright?
Some riders struggle to determine how bright is too bright when it comes to their lights. Well, there are actually no laws that regulate how bright reflectors can and should be. Companies often like to use intense light effects as a competitive marketing ploy to entice night bikers. But, the truth is it doesn't necessarily matter how bright the reflector is, it matters where it's worn. Helmet placements can be more prone to cause accidents because they’re set at eye level with other drivers and riders. Bikes, vests, and ankle/knee placements are safer for identifying oncoming objects and tend to be more successful in lighting up the road. It’s also important for riders to be vigilant when wearing bright reflectors and to always be aware of their surroundings, especially at night.
Sizing Up The Objects Around You
Sometimes it’s hard to determine how close you are to oncoming traffic and how quickly it's approaching. When using reflectors at night, your motion actually helps to serve their most valuable purpose. Standing on the side of the road with a reflector vest on is far less effective than biking with it on. The movement from the bike triggers the reflective strips to move to produce flashing lights and lighting up the surrounding area. Without movement, there is little light. It’s hard to determine the speed of oncoming traffic, but it is important to always bike in the direction of traffic. This gives cars the longest reaction time to see you and adjust their speed before they pass. In addition, it’s important to wear a helmet and know the route, especially if you're biking at night. Wearing a helmet is an important precaution that could be the difference between life and death and knowing a route helps to allocate more focus on riding safely.
Now that you can better understand the importance of lighting and how you're seen from the road we hope your next night ride is as safe, fun and well-lit as can be. For more safety tips and offers on gear visit us at: www.lousivillecyclery.com