Biking in the light

The days have gotten darker, but people on bicycles have not disappeared.

Neither have pedestrians but people on foot do not have any laws requiring them to display lights when out walking.

The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act requires bicycles to have a white, front light visible out to 150 metres, a red reflector pointed to the rear, and a rear red light.

No specification as to the brightness of the rear light, but since no cyclist wants to get rear-ended by a car, the brighter the better.

Sadly, there are not enough people out on bikes who seem to take the idea of visibility seriously most of the time and it becomes even more important as the days get shorter. T

hough every cyclist I do see wearing bright or reflective clothing and sporting a good set of lights gets a hearty “hanks”from me.

Fashion seems to give us earth tones and darker fabrics to look cool. Reasonably visible during the day, but they only help a cyclist blend into the night after sunset.

Do you need to be cool when you’re dead?

While it is the responsibility of the driver to drive to the conditions of the road, not going so fast after dark when visibility isn’t as far. If they can’t see something in the road at 10 metres there will be a problem.

My weekly routine involves riding down to H2O two or three times a week. Now that the time has changed, I go there as the sun is setting and returning in the full dark.

I pull my daughter in her chariot along Gordon where cars are often going over the speed limit and the curves in the road cut off the direct line of sight,

We sport a total of six lights between the bicycle and the chariot:

  • A very bright rear light that can be seen half a kilometre off. (I’ve checked this claim and it’s true.)
  • Two small wheel lights on the chariot, spoke mounted
  • Two headlights, one solid and one blinking
  • An armband on my left arm to be visible to cars on that side

Other than a few cars that were either blinded by car headlights around me or just plain not paying attention, we’ve rarely had a close call with other vehicles on the road.

While I might be wearing be wearing dark pants I typically wear a lighter coloured jacket of either orange or red.

I’ve heard people complain that lights are expensive.

How much do you value your life?

If you go to your local bike shop you can get a decent set of rechargeable lights for less than $30. Feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] and I can help you source out the best lights for your riding.

There is a reason cars are mandated to have lights, even as much as having daytime running lights. Lights will catch your attention quicker. As a cyclist, you want drivers to see you so they can avoid hitting you, it’s as simple as that.

Think about your environment. While you might think you have plenty of light riding down some of the larger arterials in downtown Kelowna, there will be pockets of darkness — lamps that are burned out, trees blocking the light, and sometimes just bad placement.

Those are the places that even the smallest of light will be seen.

While I take offense at the victim blaming that occurs when a vulnerable road user is injured or killed by a car and it’s reported only that they should have been in brighter clothing.

There needs to be a balance of responsibility where the drivers are driving to the conditions and the cyclists are making sure they give the people in cars enough time to react within those conditions.

Please be safe. Please be seen


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About the Author

As a youngster on two feet, a teenager on two wheels, then a young adult on four wheels, Landon has found that life is really about using all modes of transportation. Currently a cycling advocate with the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition he tries to lower road rage on both sides.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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