If you want to be visible on the roads it helps to have a lighting system and a smart system includes both active and passive elements. In the last blog we talked about lights both at night and during the day, front, rear, on wheels, and helmets. But having passive or reflective features is a plus that multiplies your safety. If a headlight or other light source is shone upon something reflective it will shine back, they never run out of batteries, and even if a reflector is cracked or broken, it still offers some visibility. Anything that reflects as a result of a rhythmic pattern, an up and down motion of the pedals or rotation of wheels, will catch the eyes of other road users better than something static. Reflective elements are available both on the bike and on the cyclist.
On the bike there may be reflectors on the handlebar, rear seat post, pedals and wheels. While all new bikes sold in the US must come equipped with reflectors, it is not illegal for consumers to remove them but ideally they are replaced with active lights. Some tires have reflective strips on the sidewalls or you can add reflective tape anywhere you want on the wheel or bike frame. They even make reflective handlebar tape!
For the cyclist, there are lots of options for reflective apparel and personal equipment. There are jackets, vests, shirts, shorts, shoes, gloves, socks, helmets and leg and arm bands. If you carry a backpack, pannier, or lock look for reflective features. Passive elements during the day also improve viability so that is where bright clothing comes in. A high visibility orange stands out better than yellow or green in daylight especially in environments that are lush with green and brown backgrounds. Some cyclists choose colorful printed clothing.
Selecting an many of these features as possible will increase your likelihood of being seen and safe on the road.
Earth Rider Blog about Cycling
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories