ABCs of Bike Safety

ABCs of Bike Safety

We all seem to know some cyclist who has been hit by a car. Often, we jump to the conclusion that drivers are too distracted by their mobile phones to notice us cyclist sharing their road. Many of us believe we’re doomed if we choose to ride on the road because of these devices.

But, is it possible we just don’t make ourselves conspicuous enough to draw special attention to ourselves over the many other distractions a driver faces during their daily commute? What if the driver was able to see us from a greater distance, giving them extra time to react to our presence?

Trek recently set out to create a tail light that would help cyclists stand out during daylight hours. In the process, the Trek engineers learned a lot about driver awareness and cyclists’ misconceptions about their own visibility. One thing they discovered was that we overestimate the distance by which we think a motorist can see us by nearly 700%. What does that mean? It means we need to make ourselves more noticeable than we previously thought.

Trek used the information they obtained during their studies to create a new safety campaign designed to make us more noticeable — This is How We Ride: The ABCs of Awareness.

A - Always on. Riding with front and rear running lights during the day significantly increases our detectability by drivers. Many riders experience drivers giving them a little wider birth after adding a rear light to their bike. I started riding with a bright headlight during the day a couple of years ago and immediately felt that drivers gave me more respect when approaching them at upcoming intersections.

B - Biomotion. Our brains have an instinctual way of recognizing the motion of the human body with very few clues. This tends to make us stand out more than the other objects competing for our attention. A cyclist can use the up and down motion of their pedal stroke, highlighted by fluorescent or reflective apparel, to take advantage of this instinct.

C - Contrast. Wearing fluorescents during the day just makes common sense, but did you know that fluorescents at night are about as useful as a black hoody? Add some reflective clothing and gear to make yourself stand out in the dark. Add some tires with reflective sidewalls to gain some extra visibility from the side.

Using all three of these principles will make us the most conspicuous riders on the road. Let's do our part to stand out and be noticed. After all, our lives depend on it.
August 18, 2016
Tags: awareness