Lifestyle

How Comox Valley cyclists can stay safer on the roads

Bicycle riders are often not on the radar of motorists.

While cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as motorists, the cyclist is the one who will be injured or killed in a bicycle/motorized vehicle accident.

Here are some tips to increase your chances of being seen by motorists. Simply put, make sure you are visible and predictable.

The night is a dark time for cyclists ... and we're not necessarily in the clear during the daytime, either. Overcast days, or roads that are heavily shaded, or have a lot of distractions, do not lend themselves to providing great visibility to drivers of cars approaching a rider from behind or from the front.

For this reason, it's a great idea to outfit yourself with some bright clothing, gear, and/or accessories when you head out.

Darker coloured jackets or jerseys with reflective strips may be very useful at night, but the reflective strips do not help visibility during daylight, and the dark clothing blends into the trees, hedges and buildings along the roadside. Arm signals are only useful if the driver can see your arm!

Cyclists often perceive themselves as more visible than they really are, and are surprised when a driver appears not to have seen them. The majority of cyclists are also drivers, and should therefore be aware of this, and make every effort to look as much like a Christmas tree as possible!

Research has shown that high-visibility vests are the most effective for driver recognition during daylight hours and the addition of ankle and/or knee reflectors and flashing rear and front lights offer the best visibility at night time.

Ankle/knee reflectors provide better information about the width of the bicycle which may encourage drivers to give the cyclist more space as they pass.

Not sure how visible you are on your bicycle?

Have a friend go out with you in their car and let you know how easily you can be seen and how predictable your movements are.

Check out the following website for cycling rules of the road and safety information — www.bikesense.bc.ca/manual.htm.

Cycle safely and give cyclists a good name.

Margaret Harris is the president of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition.

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