Riding a bike in traffic just isn’t what it used to be. Distracted driving, light pollution, and the difficulty of enforcing laws meant to protect cyclists all play a role in the challenge. Luckily, there are cycling brands creating products that let riders take greater degrees of safety into their own hands.
Can I Have Your Attention Please
Cyclists these days are competing with several threats when it comes to getting a motorist’s attention. The convenience of cell phones whether for talking or for texting is just too tempting to many drivers and their “on-the-go” lifestyle, and the laws and fines meant to limit their use are hard to enforce and not enough of a deterrent to this risky habit.
Businesses and outdoor advertisers realize too that they need to fight harder for those milliseconds of attention from the public at large, and this can result in light pollution at night and an even more overstimulating environment during the day.
These factors and more are on the minds of some of our supplier partners, and they’re working to develop a new wave of safety solutions. Here are a few new products from Garneau, NiteRider, and Garmin.
Clothing That Helps You Stand Out — Garneau
With a great assortment of clothing for riding any time of the year, Garneau is helping to improve safety and quell some cyclist’s fears of feeling invisible in traffic.
Garneau’s cycling apparel that bears the Highviz360 (RTR) logo features reflective material throughout the garments. Wearing these pieces when out on the bike results is nearly 360 degrees of visibility, and increased peace of mind for the cyclist who wears them.
RTR technology can be applied in conjunction with hi-visibility colors, or for those who prefer a subtler ensemble, it can be worked into more conventional colored pieces. It’s also available for use in Garneau’s Custom Apparel Program.
Louis Garneau himself is dedicated to increasing safety for cyclists where he lives and abroad. He’s the main spokesperson for a new law in Quebec requiring 1.5 meters of space around riders on the road, and aware of the increasing fear cyclists have of getting hit — something he and his staff worry will begin to keep bikes off the road altogether.
“In many cases, we already had reflective material on our clothing, but only on one side, so this idea that safety is a 360 concept has become more important to us. We perfected the reflective pieces for better transfer to the intended material to insure it would stay on the garment for as long as possible. We also tested different sizes and shapes of reflective dots so we could have something subtle while still providing plenty of visibility.” — Vincent Gauthier, Garneau Inside Sales Manager
Let Them Know You’re There Day and Night — NiteRider
Worldwide studies since the 1970s have shared the conclusion that daytime running lights improve safety. NiteRider has taken these findings to heart and is encouraging cyclists to use lights both night and day as well. As a result, all its rechargeable lights feature DVF (Daylight Visible Flash). This is an intense flash that helps drivers notice cyclists any time they’re out.
Riding at all times with a bright head light can certainly help alert motorists to a cyclist’s presence — especially as they approach intersections, but a bright full-time tail light can be even more critical. In 2014, the League of American Bicyclists wrote an article titled “Every Bicyclist Counts,” and shared their findings that 40% of all accidents between vehicles and bicycles are the result of “rear endings.” A bright tail light can help reduce those odds.
“From reported studies as well as personal experiences, NiteRider saw the need for added safety while on the bike. Our goal is to educate cyclists on the importance of doing whatever they can to help prevent the accident from happening in the first place. We believe increased visibility through daylight running lights goes a long way to accomplishing that goal.” — Shawna Wagner, NiteRider Sales Manager
A Handlebar Mounted Sixth Sense — Garmin
“I/we/they never saw it coming.” The phrase, when spoken amongst cyclists, is generally indicative of some bad news. Riders have enough to worry about in front of them making them especially vulnerable from behind. Garmin offers peace of mind with Varia, a radar device that helps to create a safer riding environment by warning cyclists of vehicles approaching from behind up to 153 yards (140 meters). It also displays the relative speed of approach, and the threat level. Additionally, the tail light brightens to warn approaching vehicles that there’s a cyclist ahead.
Varia works independently or integrates seamlessly with compatible cycling computers in the Edge line up. Garmin offers lights that connect to the system as well, to create an entirely connected bike. When paired with select Edge bike computers, these bike lights help to create safer riding conditions by adjusting the beam focal point according to a bike’s speed, and matching brightness to changing light conditions. As speed increases, the headlight focuses further down the road to project light to where it’s needed most, and brings it closer as you slow. As ambient light fades or gets brighter, both the headlight and tail light adjust automatically when paired with the light-sensing Edge 1000 bike computer.
“Knowing when a car is approaching [from the rear] is key to feeling safe and allows you to keep your eyes forward and not looking over your shoulder which can also contribute to crashes. The ability to see up to 10 cars approaching helps you determine when it is safe and clear or when you may need to get even further into the bike lane/shoulder.” — Anthony Hall, Key Account Manager, Garmin International
Another Thing to Keep in Mind About Visibility in Traffic
The bulk of the headlight beam cast from cars and trucks is pointed towards the ground, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have as much reflective material or lights from the waist down as you do up top, especially on the legs. The up and down motion of pedaling legs is almost universally recognizable, and helps motorists register “cyclist ahead.”
Here are some great products that can help add visibility:
Tires With Reflective Sidewalls
Reflective Wearable Locks
Don’t Let Fear Stand in the Way of the Ride
While the threats to safe and enjoyable cycling are very real, efforts from these companies result in products that get riders a lot closer to being able to pedal without constant worry. When combined with a healthy dose of situational awareness, they can help make bike rides better for everyone.