As a safety instructor, I tend to observe behavior of bicyclists and what they do to enhance or demote (sometimes unknowingly or unintentionally) their own safety. One of the biggest areas of neglect I notice is failing to wear gear or have proper lighting that makes a bicyclist highly visible at a distance.
Two weeks ago I biked 500 miles across New York State with 175 other bicyclists. On four out of six days, we rode in downpours with dark skies. Visibility was very poor. I am not a speedster so I spent a lot of time watching the crowd pull away from me. I had ample time to observe the visibility of other bicyclists.
Here is my assessment: Most “blinkie” lights were simply not adequate for making a bicyclist visible at a distance. (Think of a 60MPH car approaching from the rear.) The blinkies are not “eye-catching” in my estimation. In fact, I was surprised that bright yellow day-glow shirts (like the MBA shirts and jerseys) were visible much further down the road, by a sizable margin, than the blinkie lights were. Many blinkie lights were under powered or undersized.
If you ride in the daytime, wear day-glow yellow or green, year round. Do not wear your backpack over it. Notice that road construction crews and sanitation and ready-mix truck drivers wear day-glow colors. Do they know something we don’t? If you ride at nighttime, wear highly reflective vests and use a combination of two or three high powered blinkie lights. Or, switch to a bicycle taillight that is visible in daylight. They are, however, harder to find. You either have to ask your local store to order these or go online. I just bought a Dinotte taillight. (www.dinottelighting.com)
Wow! What a difference. You will not believe your eyes at first. The downside: it is expensive ($160). Nite Rider also has a high powered light but I do not have any information on it. The testimonials on these lights are that car drivers respect you in a different, more positive way. At this point of my experience, I agree.
You have to decide how to prioritize your safety. Pay a little less for your bicycle and spend more on safety gear. It is the first and easiest safety step you can take. – Danny Graber, League of American Bicyclists Certified Safety Instructor