3 helpful types of visibility gear for cyclists

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2024 | Bicycle tips |

Many bicycle collisions are the fault of people in motor vehicles, not cyclists. However, an affected cyclist is the one likely to pay the price for a crash between a motor vehicle and a bicycle. Even at low speeds, a bicycle and basic safety gear do very little to protect someone from catastrophic physical injuries.

The top reasons that drivers cause bicycle crashes include carelessness and a failure to notice a cyclist in traffic. Drivers often blame collisions on a lack of cyclist visibility. They claim they couldn’t see someone across an intersection or as they came up a hill. It is, therefore, often beneficial for cyclists to invest in gear that draws the attention of others in traffic. In particular, there are three different types of visibility gear that can help increase the awareness of others as a cyclist approaches in traffic.

Brightly colored gear

The most accessible form of safety gear includes clothing, bicycles and helmets in bright, neon or fluorescent colors. The brighter the color, the more likely it is to draw the attention of others in traffic. That being said, brightly-colored clothing is perhaps the least effective of the visibility options, especially given that some drivers are fully or partially color-blind. Colorful gear can be helpful especially when paired with other forms of visibility safety gear.

Reflective gear

Reflectors used to only be part of the bicycle itself, but that has changed in recent years. Reflective strips are now popular inclusions on shorts, shoes and jackets. When lights move near someone wearing gear with reflective strips built in, the reflective surfaces flash. The reflection of light off of someone’s gear could draw the attention of others. Particularly when light levels are variable or during transitional times of day, reflective gear can be helpful in combating the inattentional blindness of drivers.

Illuminated gear

As with reflective gear, illuminated gear is relatively new. Not that long ago, even illuminated bicycle turn signals and brake systems were prohibitively expensive and not particularly effective. However, it is now possible for companies to build LEDs into pieces of clothing. In fact, people can potentially modify their existing gear to add LED light strings if they don’t want to invest in new cycling outfits. Illuminated equipment and aftermarket editions to bicycles can be quite effective at drawing the attention of motorists and traffic. Even those partially distracted by other matters may have a hard time ignoring the flashing lights of an illuminated cycling vest or the illuminated turn signals on a bicycle.

The sad truth is that no amount of visibility gear can undo the risk generated by dangerous drivers. Cyclists can take many steps to reduce their crash risk, but drivers are often the parties at fault for car crashes involving bicycles. Holding drivers accountable when crashes do occur can, at least, better ensure that the right party absorbs the expenses caused by unsafe conduct on the roads.