Bikers in traffic often have difficulties. City cycling can be dangerous, so you need to be ready for anything!
At CLARA, we think that all forms of cycling are pretty awesome. We do it all the time – for exercise, fun, as a means of transport. Whenever weather permits it, we put on our flashy (pun intended) vests and take out our bikes.
Since we live in the city, things can get a little tricky. Traffic can be difficult to navigate, visibility isn’t always the best, pedestrians and cars tend to react to an oncoming bike in weird ways (like swerving to a side or just freezing where they are), streets can be filled with potholes or puddles – not to mention the crowds of tourists that tend to pop out of nowhere and just block your way!
Here are some of the things that an urban cyclist needs to be aware of:
- Pick a path – the fastest is not the safest
In lots of cities, people like to use their bikes to get to work or to other engagements and meetings. The trend is on the rise – after all, cycling is healthier than driving a car, and you don’t have to worry about parking!
The downfall is the trip itself. Whether you work a short way from home or you need to cross half of the country to get there, your route needs to take into account the other participants in traffic. Jumping from street to sidewalk may make you faster, but you’re actually endangering others as well as yourself.
The CLARA vest has blinkers on the back mainly for this reason. With the increased visibility of your intentions, drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists will be able to see where you’re going and adjust their routes. No nasty surprises – and no compromises on safety.
- Rules are there for a reason
Some cities and countries have clearly marked bike lanes all over the place. Some have none. Some have laws that make it obligatory to wear a helmet, some don’t.
Whatever the rule is, it is there for a reason. Bike lanes are a good example – they aren’t always available, but they offer a lot of protection to all traffic participants. Not using the bike lane because it’s a few meters out of your way is the same as a car deciding to drive on the sidewalk during rush-hour.
Much like helmets, some places won’t make you wear reflective clothing or use lights on your bike for night rides. You can see the benefits yourself, though – like the fact that drivers tend to avoid things they can SEE in the street.
- Everybody is different
Predicting what another person might do or how they will react is impossible. Why, then, do so many presume they can weave in and out of crowds and traffic and avoid all consequence?
You must have seen something similar to it before. A cyclist, or a biker, or a hover-boarder that literally slips through people and vehicles, sometimes even going in the wrong direction on a one-way street. Yes, it is fun (and you feel like an action star), but it can end very badly. One knee-jerk reaction from an inexperienced driver and... well, you know.
- Visibility is not the same behind a windshield
If you’ve ever been in a car at night, you know that it’s not the same as just standing there in the open. No matter how modern the car, there are always dead angles and distortions. Movement is everywhere, and it sometimes surprises you to see that a dog is actually a bush in the wind, or that a black shadow is a jogger.
That’s one of the reasons CLARA exists, really. We wanted to provide a way to make all two-wheel enthusiasts (bicycle, motorbike, scooter) and night owls as visible as possible.
However, it is important to notice that increasing visibility doesn’t make you invincible. You still need to pay attention to your surrounding and be ready to react if something happens.
How CLARA can help
CLARA is a vest – wearable technology that combines LED lights with a simple piece of clothing. It consists of the vest itself and a wireless button that you can either hold on to or attach to your bike’s handlebar. The button helps you control the lights – whether you want to use them as blinkers, or just flash them for extra visibility.
In a city, either of these options can help you stay safe. The versatility of the vest is in its design and purpose, as it can be worn over any clothing ensemble (almost – we do allow exceptions). The battery lasts for hours so you don’t need to worry about running out of light.
It can be re-charged, washed in a washing machine and packed into a very small space. Urban cycling benefits from the safety it brings through additional visibility and the ease of communicating the route through the blinkers. The fact that it also makes you look cool is just an added bonus!
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