Tips to be more visible to vehicles?


#1

Happy Holidays, all. As a Florida man, I was devastated to read about the two cyclists killed by a distracted driver a few days ago. Riding outside is always a risk, but with Florida having the most related incidents and living in a city where cyclists are seen as pests, I’d love some tips on improving visibility.

The Garmin Varia RTL510 looks promising ($50 off currently!) but is that “enough”? I saw this headlight that kept a steady beam of light but would the intensity would increase with a quick burst every few seconds. It seemed rather effective because the burst wasn’t frequent enough to simultaneously burn my corneas and give me a seizure. Any idea what light this could have been?

I think sharing tips to grab the attention of drivers (particularly ones behind us) would be beneficial to all.


#2

Flashing lights front and rear. The new ones from Bontrager are specifically meant for daytime visibility (and they have lower output mode for night application as well).
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/daytime_running_lights/

Also consider high visibility socks or shoes. The motion and color are triggers to our eyes for attention.


#3

x2 Flashing lights front and rear. I strongly believe that the front is even more important than the rear - while i know it happens and it is certainly is a cause of great fear, I don’t personally know anyone who has been hit from behind. On the other hand, all my friends and acquaintances who have been hit (and me . . .) were hit by people who did not see us approaching and turned in front of an oncoming bike or pulled out in front of an oncoming rider.

I’m also a big believer in “acting like a car” as much as possible in dangerous spots and taking the lane if you can and not “hiding” off in the gutter. Be where the driver is going to be looking and acting like something he is expecting (a car) and you are more likely to be seen.


#4

I definitely second anything reflected or illuminated on ankles or legs, especially in the dark. The motion makes it really unusual and therefore draws attention. Similarly, spoke reflectors on each spoke are pretty effective too.

I also have a Proviz 360 jacket which is entirely reflective. The whole thing lights up whenever you shine a light on it. I have to keep it in a wardrobe because it’s distractingly reflective hung up in a room! All these are great in low light but daylight is a little harder


#5

Anything flashing or moving seems to test well in visibility and awareness testing.

I’m a fan of Exposure lights myself, feel pretty safe with them going, even in low power mode. Think I’m using a Strada 1200 up front and one of their lights on the back too.

Also have a set of Lezynes with the rubbery band thing that are fantastic for stretching easily over aero posts and bars! Great modes on those too!


#6

These look great. Thanks Chad


#7

Not to be a contrarian but as a cyclist and a driver I hate front blinking lights, especially in low light settings. Nothing is more distracting than a disembodied bright blinking light, which you can’t discern distance and actually may steer you towards the light. Would much rather see a clear, solid light and other visibility from reflective helmet/body, socks. I like the visibility of Ridge Supply Socks.

One thing I have seen that seemed great out front was two smaller lights attached to the bar end, in the drops. Closest thing I have seen to car headlights. Easier to see and sense the size of the object, and balances the light across two, vs. 1 blinding light. Drivers seem also more used to seeing them.

In the back however, a blinking red light tends to work well.

Additionally, as others have mentioned, other cycling behaviors/decisions are just, if not more important. I tend to avoid certain roads at certain times and generally go out early in the morning and take lightly traffic’ed roads or dedicated trails. As I learned from others, I tend to take the lane when coming up on blind corners where the person behind me can’t see ahead. Like in driving, I feel clear, deliberate movement counteracts a driver’s indecision about whether they think they can squeeze through or not. And always be super courteous with a wave, a smile, etc.

I also anticipate that people won’t see me - so I tend to go the extra mile of sitting up to add visibility, give a wave/nod of recognition, drop a hand so they pick up on my glove decals, etc. My scariest moments have been at intersections where I didn’t do that - for example I didn’t have perfect visibility over a concrete barrier and a low riding convertible came and hit me in an intersection (I hit the side, so wasn’t terrible hurt).

Now, I tend not to ride in a high traffic city at high traffic times. I get that a major city in rush hour is a frightening experience and not all of these will work.


#8

I can see your point here but blinking lights are definitely better for attracting attention.

My preference is actually to run 2 lights, one blinking and one static for the best of both worlds


#9

This is your biggest threat actor. Unfortunately, you could be lit up like a Christmas tree, it won’t change the fact that the driver is distracted, and not paying attention to the road.

The best risk mitigation is to campaign for harsher enforcement and penalties on drivers who kill.

In terms of your own behaviour, by all means cycle assertively and confidently, and within the law. Attentive drivers will appreciate it, but there’s nothing you can do about people texting as they drive over you.


#10

These are really nice. I haven’t had them long but they’re easy to use, nice and small and versatile.


#11

You have a point. However, if being lit up like a Christmas tree saves your life from a distracted driver (regardless of their level of distraction), then it is 100% worth it. This post was partly fueled by toxic workplace comments about cyclists taking up their road when someone brought up the recent incident. It just f*cking sucks when people are so blinded by their anger that they forget cyclists are people, too.

I’d rather annoy drivers with commercial airline-style lights than get touched by a car any day


#12

I know - I got pretty militant about it on another cycling forum, and I’m trying to hold back but it really makes me angry.

Stay safe and good luck!


#13

99.99999% of drivers do not want to hit a cyclist. We just need to do those things we have control over to help them achieve their goal.

General question for everyone to ponder - When you ride, what are you doing to help the drivers out?


#14

I love that Garmin Varia, so much so that I don’t ever want to ride on the open road without it.

The new Varia is much brighter than the old one.

Being able to know when a car is coming up behind you without looking is also really awesome.

I can’t say enough good things about the Varia.


#15

Checkout the see sense range, especially the icon. It’s a pretty intelligent daylight visible light and also includes some great features like crash detection which sends a text alert, and also theft detection via Bluetooth which is pretty handy on coffee stops.

I’ve also got up to 20 hours non stop run time out of mine by changing the brightness, and it comes with an app for extra geek points


#16

I have a small flashing FWE light on the front, think it’s 80 lumens or so.

On the back i always run with a Bontrager Flare R - Think it’s marketed as being visable for up to 2km. I made the mistake of turning it on when i first got it looking straight at it. Was blinded for a good bit of time after that!


#17

I just got the Varia 510 and am super happy with it. It’s a bit bulkier than expected but it works super well. There are some false positives sitting in the group but better that than missing things. It sees cars a long long way back most of the time and I believe is supposed to change the flashing pattern when it sees them (hard for me to check this one).

Of course usual caveats apply about watching your road position etc. I felt the Varia might help remind me to watch my manners a bit more.

You can wear high visibility clothing and I’m sure it won’t hurt. I’m pretty sure I read some stuff suggesting drivers have hi-vis fatigue from the amount of it they see and it doesn’t really register anymore.


#18

After working in an office for 36 years, im now working outside doing road traffic control in Australia. (As its part time I love it) The things that I notice now are:

  1. Enormous amount of drivers are on holding phone in hand and distracted.
  2. A lot of cyclists wear black knicks and tops and have tiny lights
  3. As road worker I wear orange with reflective 3m tape. Having had some recent close calls riding I now wear brighter kit and lights back and front, both flashing. I dont wear black/dark blue riding on the road anymore.

Im not fussed by fashion police, rather be seen and live.

Ride Safe everyone.


#19

Decent lights, and road positioning are the biggest thing imo. Being confident to take primary position to avoid squeeze passes and left (or right) hooks.

I wear retro reflective jackets/ gillets commuting, but a distracted driver won’t see you anyway, and I don’t believe they make any significant difference - I wear them as they give the distracted driver one less excuse for “not seeing”. And despite not being a requirement, any court cases always seem to comment on it - I don’t want that excuse to minimise the sentence, should something happen to me.

The problem, in Ireland at least, is drivers not looking rather than anything to do with cyclist behaviour or clothing, and a general attitude problem of motorists believing the roads belong to them. I don’t believe there’s a whole lot we can do about that.


#20

I think it depends. A weak front light is definitely better in flash mode. A strong light which is flashing can be quite distracting. Of course it also depends on the blinking pattern and if you’re riding in an area with many lights like a city or in the countryside with almost no lights.