Safety in traffic is important, but how can you stay safe if you aren’t visible?
According to USA Today, commuting to work by bike has increased by 60% in the last decade. Since this trend seems to be holding up world-wide, you would think that cyclists are well on their way to becoming equal participants in traffic.
Unfortunately, that just isn't the case in some places.
While commuting by bike and urban cycling in general have many benefits, many cities are struggling to adapt their traffic to an increase in cyclists.
At CLARA, we tend to practice commuting by bike (almost) every day. Being based in a small town has the added benefit of less traffic to deal with – but we are aware of the issues faced by fellow urban cyclists world-wide.
We mentioned urban cycling in our previous blog and offered some ideas on how to stay safe as a recreational cyclist in a city-setting. However, rush-hour cycling has its own set of dangers and potential solutions.
Many helpful forums offer advice on how to deal with rush-hour scale traffic as a cyclist. Some tell you to “think like a car”, as road regulations exist to protect all traffic participants. Some say you should walk at least part way, making sure that any tight situations are avoided by taking to the sidewalk. While both approaches have their merits, they also have drawbacks.
For one thing, cyclists are not cars. They are smaller, slower, less visible and more vulnerable on the open road. The size can be helpful – when cars come to a standstill during a traffic jam, cyclists can still get around. We do advise caution, though: weaving between cars is not a good idea even when they are parked, as you never know when a door might open.
Even if you take away all the cars, streets can still be dangerous. Potholes can appear anywhere, and a cyclist’s limited vision can stop them from reacting in time. To go slowly isn't the most inspirational idea, but it can help in the long run.
Visibility is, ironically, one of the most visible issues. A cyclist just isn't as easily seen as a bigger car, or a noisier motorcycle. When surrounded by vehicles, a cyclist is a peripheral image, and that makes them far easier to overlook and endanger.
This lack of visibility is one of the key reasons CLARA was formed in the first place. It is our goal to provide a means of signaling that also doubles as something to attract attention – a white vest with flashing lights that should be easily seen from any vehicle's window.
Commuters, by their definition, go to and from work in times of high traffic and lowered visibility. Morning mist, evening lack of light... weather, traffic density and road repair all play roles in the safety of urban cyclists. Visibility, though, can have a simple solution in CLARA. This is why the vest exists, after all. Rechargeable, machine-washable, simple and elegant; providing safety through being seen, recognized and understood.
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