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Bicycle Safety Accessories

What To Have To Make Your Ride Safer

Though experience we gain the knowledge for bicycling safety. Every time we ride through an intersection and watch how motorist react to our presence, we learn to be prepared for the time that another motorist may put our lives at risk. So every ride in traffic that we take increases our ability for riding a bicycle safely. Which bicycling safety accessories should you choose for riding in traffic:

An aspect of safety needs to be addressed before we even get on our bicycles in traffic. Which bicycling safety accessories should you choose for riding in traffic:

Safety Accessories For Your Bike

Handlebar Mirrors

When it comes to riding in traffic, a mirror will give you the most reliable indication of what motorist are doing.

Yes, a mirror is unfashionable, but it can save your life. It will help eliminate blind spots of up-coming motor vehicles. It is one of the most important bicycling safety accessory that you can get.

A bicycle mirror must be vibration resistant and be able to be positioned to give you the best view of motor vehicles coming from behind you. One advantage that the bike-mounted mirror allows is the large viewing area. However, the viewing area will change with the rider switching from one riding position to the other.

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Front Headlight

Most of the available front headlights provide the minimum light to see the road before you. In reality, the main function of the front headlight is to make sure that you are seen. It will illuminate road hazards directly in front of you and reflective street signs. You can choose between the handle bar or helmet mounted lights. Each type can be used on and off the bicycle.

Two main types of headlights exist for bicycles: high-intensity LED and halogen lights. LED lights emit less intense light, but they last a lot longer than halogen lights. LED lights will meet the minimum requirement for city codes, seeing hazards directly before you, and increasing bicycling safety in low light. Normally, if you require a more intense light beam, some of the 6 and 12 volt halogen lights will be a better choice. However, these more powerful lights costs hundreds of dollars and are more limited in battery light.

If you want to protect the environment, a generator powered light that runs off the tire is a great choice. These units are heavy and very expensive and will decrease your pedaling efficiency. Another alternative utilizes rechargeable batteries. However, rechargeable batteries normally offer less run time over conventional batteries. Every day or so you probably will have to find a electrical outlet for about 8 hours so that you can recharge the batteries.

Even when out on an extended tour, I only travel at night in an emergency (due to safety concerns). Therefore, I don’t use my front headlight too often, mainly in low visibility conditions like rain and light fog. Otherwise, I stay off the roads. Better to wait and live another day… . So I usually bring along a high quality light at a fair price and that uses rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries.

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Rear Flashers

It seems that most bicyclist seem to prefer the rear flashing red light as there main bicycling safety equipment. This might be their best all around choice because most cycling occurs in daylight to low light conditions instead at night.

From my own experience, the only night cycling that I do occurs in unintentional situations: trying to make it to my destination after running late or some emergency that can’t be avoided. I end up using my front light more as a flashlight than headlight. I have found that the rear flashing light is valuable in fog, rain, early morning light, sunset, and in heavy traffic.

Rear flashing lights are fairly inexpensive, last for hundreds of hours on the same batteries, and can be seen hundreds of feet. These lights are great for alerting your presence to an upcoming car, even if you may be in a blind spot. A motorist will usually see your flashing light sooner than he sees you. And the sooner that the motorist can react the safer you will be. Some tourist will attach a rear flashing light below the bicycle seat and on the rear rack or panniers.

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Reflectors

New bicycles are required to come with rear reflectors, usually on the back of pedals and seat. These stock reflectors offer minimum bicycling safety due to their size and location. If you ride a loaded bicycle (e.g., panniers), these stock reflectors will probably be shielded from a motor vehicle’s bright lights. Some better locations include the back of your panniers for a rear approaching vehicle and down the side of the top tube and along the inside of your bicycle rims for crossing traffic. The easiest way to add this safety feature is with reflective tape obtained from hardware stores, sign shops and mail order companies. You can even obtain custom and stock shapes from bicycle stores and printing shops.

For the best reflective effect, you need to mount the tape/material as low as possible since vehicle’s lights are pointed slightly down. Against a dark background, the reflective power of this material from bright headlights can be significant. With reflectors, your bicycle will even stand out among the oncoming headlights of other motor vehicles.

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Bells

Bells and other noise makers are excellent for alerting people and other bicyclist on bike trails. I don’t believe horns and other loud noise makers are useful on a bicycle in traffic situations. You would need a very loud horn for motorist to hear you over normal traffic background noise. But a small mechanical or electronic bell has a definite benefit when signaling your approach on bike trails.

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Safety Accessories that You Wear

Eye Glass/Helmet Mirrors

Eye Glasses
eye glass mirror

You can also buy small mirrors that attach directly to the inside of you eye glasses or ones that mount on your helmet.

Helmethelmet mirror

I prefer a helmet-mounted mirror if it is positioned to just move your head slightly to see up coming vehicles. As you move your head, you can scan the different lanes behind you. One disadvantage to these mirrors is that you have to focus on the close mirror that takes your focus away from what is in front of you. You should only scan quickly and return your vision to your front.

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High Visibility Clothing

Eye GlassesReflective Vest

When it comes to one of the best all around accessory for bicycling safety, I recommend the newer available high-visibility jerseys, outerwear, and vest.

HelmetHigh-Visibility Jersey

These highly visible yellow and green materials can be seen for hundreds of feet in bright light and low light situation. I know when I ride with a cyclist who is wearing a red, gray, blue, or brown jersey, I can loose sight of him, especially if he enters shadows along the road. Yet, when he wears a highly visible colored jersey, he can be easily seen at great distances and among shaded roadways.

Another newer material on the market for excellent visibility is called illumiNITE™. The illumiNITE™ material is added to other material to enhance silhouette safety. At night and under low light conditions, the material reflects headlights as if the entire area is a reflector. You can find jerseys, outerwear, tights, leg and arm warmers, and other bicycle clothing that uses this advance material.

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About John Stultz

John Stultz is the owner of Bear Paw Tents. He's been bicycle touring for over 30 years and is excited for sharing his insight on cycling. He considers himself an ultralight backpacker and ultralight bicycle tourer. John is the original founder of Bicycle-Touring-Guide.com. He started the website to share his passion for touring and to help people plan for their own bicycle tour.

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