We have covered the best lights for commuting in our updated bike lights definitive guide, but sometimes being visible on the road isn’t just about one front and rear light, but rather other things to make you visible, and also where and how you cycle.
You don’t have to use brightly coloured reflective clothing that screams cyclist if you don’t want to: you can also have something that is subtle or removable. For example, lights can be removed from your bag when you are at work and some reflective material can be invisible in the day time or just black.
In this guide we have some suggestions for increasing your on road visibility in ways that don’t scream cyclist when you are away from your bike.
Use more than one light
It is often useful to have a flashing one and a stand, or static light. This way you are not only brighter but stand a better chance of being noticed if someone glances in your direction. Stand lights also tend to use batteries and are low enough power that they last a very long time.
Lights at different heights
Having lights at different heights, for example something on your bike and maybe something on your bag increases your size on the road. If you have a light attached to your bag, it will move when you do, making it more eye catching. Unusual lights also work, something that means you stand out and get noticed by others on the road. Of course, then you have to be social and chat with other cyclists who stop and ask about the lights……
Having lights at different heights is also particularly helpful on Bromptons and other small wheeled bikes. The designated mounting points on the bikes tend to be just above the wheel, which puts them quite a lot below the line of sight for many car drivers. There is plenty of space on the seat post, so having a second light up there works, and the Brompton stand light attached to the bike makes a great backup light.
Signalling your intention to change lanes or turn into side roads is important. Additionally, you are at increased risk when performing these manoeuvres regardless of the time of day. In the dark, they can be a little trickier. You will be move visible if you also have reflective bands or details on your wrists of hands.
Clothing with lights can also be an option. The Lumo jacket is one such example, adding lights to an otherwise classy jacket. So, when you are off the bike you can blend in with city folks but while cycling there is a little something more to make you visible. They also have a backpack if you already have a favourite jacket.
Lights/reflective stuff on the bottom of your trousers are really good for increasing visibility. Your legs obviously move the most out of all the bits of your body on the bike and therefore having something that is highly visible on this area of your body will be eye catching for others around you. You can either use a reflective trouser band or two, or you can get little clip on lights.
Increased side visibility
Traffic doesn’t just come at you from the front and back. Traffic coming out of side roads might miss you cycling past, so something that makes you visible from the sides can be handy also. Happarel bike frame stickers are a great solution to making yourself more visible from the side. The stickers can blend in with your bicycle frame and not impact its appearance too much. However, when caught in a beam of light, they shine quite brightly and make the outline of your whole bike visible. It is pretty eye catching and effective. They also make shaped stickers should you wish to add some whimsy to your frame.
Lights that can be seen from the side are also a good bet. The Monkey light is a small light circuit board which goes in the wheel and makes large patterns when the wheel spins. You can select the image or pattern it makes – they are pretty awesome and definitely increase side visibility.
Being visible is of course not all about adding more and more lights to your bike or wearing neon clothing. Your position on the road also goes a long way towards keeping yourself seen by traffic. It is important to know what is going on around you so that you don’t have to swerve or limit your need to make sudden lane changes. All of the general safety tips apply in the day or night. If you are unused to riding in the dark then here are some good tips and advice on getting comfortable.
What are you favourite night time visibility additions? What strategies do you take when riding in the dark to make sure you are seen by other traffic? Let us know!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.