In a stormy and windy night, you ride a bicycle and suddenly came across a motorcycle or car driver. You might reasonably hope to be recognized earlier to avoid any unfortunate clash. Well, while your bicycle has a low-bright-very low irregular pattern and a continuously blinking red light, it is almost unmistakable not to address you earlier.
Yet, during a motor and bicycle crash, it is the cyclist mostly blamed. How ridiculous!
So, you might be interested to know lights for bicycles and riders being visible to motorists for a safer passage during nights and stormy dark daytime. It includes grabbing attention, understanding the dark conditions, and motorists’ viewpoints during driving.
So, let’s dive deep into these facts to ensure the maximum visibility for a cyclist.
Lights For Bicycles And Riders Being Visible To Motorists?
Although less spoken, bicyclists often overestimate their visibility and hope that the rider from the other side would recognize him at ease. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen frequently and results in some fatal accidents.
But with a little care, we can easily avoid these conditions for bicycle riders and motorists.
The accurate picture of visibility:
Before we focus on the safety features of visibility of a rider towards another rider during challenging conditions, it is better to understand how riders see their visibility in practical life.
Sadly, the picture is very murky. A recent study on cyclists by the Queensland University of Technology showed that most riders hoped that riders recognize them from nearly twice the distance than the actual capacity. Well, these riders only had a reflective vest or black clothing and were optimistic about their visibility in harsh lighting conditions.
However, the actual scenario is far from it.
Strips with black clothing and the reflective vest have the highest visibility, and it was observed in the study. Therefore, you may want to have all the right dress and proper vests to be visible by riders from an increased distance.
Now, let’s look at different methods to increase visibility for safe riding at night.
Don’t forget about attention:
When you drive on the road, especially during low lights, you would want to be recognized as early as possible. It is directly linked with grabbing attention from riders.
The attention-seeking is crucial since it further helps a rider act quickly or slowly. Various studies, in fact, showed that a rider typically needs around 1.25 to 2.00 seconds to recognize any objects coming from the opposite direction and take proper preventive measures.
While the two seconds timeframe may seem a long time in real life, it is only a fraction for a driver. For instance, a car at 30MPH speed will travel around 55 to 60 feet during this time. So, if you are a cyclist, you would want to be recognized at least 100 feet away to avoid any possible clashes.
The most frightening fact is that, in real life, a car won’t be at 30MPH. Instead, you will see most drivers driving their car or a motorcyclist driver well over 50 MPH to 60 MPH. So, it leaves even less time for a cyclist to be addressed from a distance of safety.
All these reaction time being said, you as a bicycle rider would want as much time as possible time to be recognized by motorists or car drivers. Hence, you should wear a proper reflective vest, dress, and strips to be visible earlier than the estimated time.
Don’t underestimate the harsh lighting conditions:
One of the significant and fatal things that most riders do is to underestimate the dark and severe lighting conditions. Most of us, including all cyclists, think that riders will see as far as in the night as they do in normal conditions.
We have two things linked with our visibility-
- Focal vision: It is essential to address different colors and objects. Also, it is helpful to recognize the details of all items.
- Ambient vision: It helps us understand the spatial awareness and address the distance between two moving objects.
At dark and murky conditions, our focal vision tends to see larger objects with great details. However, ambient vision faces much challenge to identify the distance until something comes really close properly. Hence, a moving cyclist or rider is often undermined by our ambient vision.
Plus, there are other cars, vehicles, road signs, and lane striping that often will distract a driver from the cyclists in the road. So, wearing the right reflective gears during daytime and night is essential.
Pick the right gear:
When you ride a bicycle on the road, wearing the right gear and dress is essential to avoid any collisions. That’s being said, and your equipment would vary vastly between day and night for the proper visibility.
A 2004 study showed that humans tend to see and recognize fluorescent colors early and from a distance compared to standard and dull colors. In fact, the fluorescent colors successfully reflect the UV lights, and so it is 200% more visible.
There are many fluorescent colors that you might pick, which are not only visible from a distance but also looks impressive. My personal favorite is electric orange or fluorescent green.
Nonetheless, at nighttime, fluorescent colors won’t work as effectively as they do in the daytime. So, if you are ardently planning for a night trip, you would like to have a different set of gear for increased visibility.
At night, you should wear reflective material that will quickly reflect in artificial lights. However, when you wear a reflective vest, chances of visibility reach 67%. But there’s a twist.
When a bicycle rider wears ankle and knee reflectors along with the reflective vest, the visibility will reach a stunning 94%. Lastly, you can add reflective piping in the tires for added visibility.
What about lights?
We would suggest you use flashing lights that are equally visible at day and nighttime. When you choose the lights for the cycle, go for at least 20 lumens for perfect visibility. But a little more brightness will do even better.
The Bottom Line
So, here’s our top pick for increased visibility for bicycles and riders to motorists- always wear fluorescent or reflective materials. Additionally, wearing knee and ankle reflectors at nighttime will increase the visibility further.
Finally, choose at least 20-lumen output lights for the bicycle so you remain visible from a safe distance from where motorists and car drivers can recognize you and take the right action, such as pressing the brake pad and slow down the vehicles.