Conway Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board

Cyclists Should Add Visibility to Safety Checklist

emEditor”s Note: Jennifer Boyett is an avid cyclist who formerly served on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board and is a founding member of Conway Advocates for Bicycling. For more information about CAB Ride Civil events or how you can become involved with cycling in Conway, visit www.cycleconway.org./em

Summer means long hours of sunshine, and in this area that translates into more hours of heat. To find relief from the hot summer days, some cyclists may take to the streets in the early morning or late evening hours, making visibility an important safety topic. The bicycle lanes that have popped up on several city streets will help define cyclists’ space on the road and may aid in increasing visibility, but cyclists can do even more to ensure their safety and the safety of others. While checking tire pressure, brakes and securing a helmet are typically considered before taking a spin on a bicycle, ensuring visibility does not always make the safety checklist. Although riding on the street with the flow of traffic is the safest place for a cyclist to be, each individual should take into consideration whether they are visible to motorists as well as fellow cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists should ensure they can be seen by others on the road by wearing bright, and when possible reflective, clothing and equipping their bicycles with proper lights and reflectors. It’s a state law in Arkansas that cyclists must have a white headlight and a red taillight or reflector that is visible from at least 500 feet away when riding in the dark. While many bicycles come stock with reflectors, few are equipped with white headlights. These lights can range in price from a few dollars to a few hundred a href=”http://www.spiritlurkers.com/”of/a dollars, but there is something

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available for every budget. Lights can be found at specialty bicycle stores or in the bicycle section at many large retail stores. While a red reflector on the rear will comply with state law, a red flashing light for the back of your bicycle is also a good choice to increase your visibility, and thus safety, on the road. Cyclists often assume that because they can see a vehicle, that the motorist in the vehicle can see them, but often that’s simply not the case. One study showed that cyclists tend to overestimate the distance from which they can be seen by as much as double and despite understanding the importance of visibility, few actually ensure they are equipped to be visible in traffic. Another aid in visibility both at night and during the day is wearing light or bright colored clothing. Cyclists wearing dark clothing often blend in with their surroundings making them difficult for motorists

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to see. Unfortunately, darker colored clothing is often considered more stylish, but when cycling, safety should be the key consideration when selecting apparel. While bicycle horns and bells aren’t visual aids, they can help cyclists be heard especially when cycling in locations that have a lot of pedestrians, like the bicycle trail along Tucker Creek or a local park. It is helpful to ring a bell or give a honk when approaching a pedestrian so that person knows you are behind them and will be passing on the left. Next time you go out for a spin, be sure to check your bike and clothing and consider whether you will be visible to others around you.

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