Whether it’s Olympic success or the Tour de France effect, Britain’s roads are busier than ever with cyclists commuting, training or just out for a spin. But the dark winter mornings and the evenings drawing in earlier at this time of year mean that cycle safety is more important than ever and that cyclists need to pull on their high visibility clothing to be safe and be seen.
It’s a strong message and one that’s been around in one form or another for 30 years. Invisibility is a huge problem for cyclists – not just at night but during daylight hours too. Even in broad daylight, on a sunny winter’s day, you can find yourself plunged into shadow. Therefore it’s recommended that when you’re commuting or simply riding for pleasure, you wear high visibility clothing so you’re as visible as possible.
Fluorescent works best in daylight because light activates the colours, making them appear to glow. However, whatever fluorescent clothing you choose for daytime riding, ensure it conforms to safety standards EN471 or EN1150 or European equivalent.
At night, however, you need reflective clothing and accessories. In fact, there should be no limit to the amount of reflective gear you use on your bike. Stickers and bar tape can be useful ways of ensuring you stand out in the dark. Even something as simple as a stripe of reflective tape on your commuting bag can make the difference between being seen and an accident.
Night-time riding means you need reflectors, so wear brightly coloured clothing and then add reflective bands to wrists and ankles and invest in a reflective jacket.
By law, you need a white front light and red rear light, with red and amber reflectors for the rear of the bicycle and the pedals.
Bike light technology has come an extraordinarily long way from the days when early cyclists would carry paraffin lamps. Now there are any number of small, light and cheap energy-efficient LED lights with high visibility and functions like flashing and USB charging.
Use several flashing lights on your bike, even during the day. Set at least one to flash and at least one to maintain a steady light. When buying your main bike lights, try to buy a front and back combination that will charge from the same cable. And buy a spare set so you always have one set charged and ready to go. USB lights are a great investment, as you can charge them from just about anywhere at work and home – even from your laptop on the ride home.