by John Brown
With school in session and Fall in full swing, using passively bright gear is a critical component to being better seen while riding our bikes. The two primary forms of visibility we need to focus on are passive and active visibility. Things like reflectors and bright colors are forms of passive visibility. In contrast, lights and blinkers are great examples of operational visibility. Read on to see where each one is helpful and most efficient.
Using visibility passively
Most autumn rides start in the light and only devolve into darkness as the ride stretches. Most riders rely on passive visibility to get them home in these cases. If your ride is under street lamps or lights, that passive visibility will get you home safely. The most common form of passive visibility is a lowly reflector. The CPSC requires these plastic devices installed on all bicycles sold in the United States. You will find glasses in white (front and wheels) and Red (rear).
Additionally, many apparel companies install reflective materials on their products. Like the reflector on your bike, these reflective materials will take any light thrown at you and return it to the source of the morning. Passive reflectivity falls short when there is no light source to activate visibility.
Using visibility Actively
When the area lacks a light source, you must create that light to keep yourself safe as a rider. For cyclists, Lights and blinkers are the most common devices for light. The light and the blinker differ because blinkers are designed to be seen, while lights allow a rider to see and be seen.
Great lights are usually rechargeable and use an LED bulb. These lights are necessary for riders who spend much time off-road or on unlit paths. While most mount onto the bars or helmet, a few companies integrate lights into the bike or your helmet.
Blinkers are usually battery-operated and use an LED to flash intermittently. These blinkers can easily be mounted to your bicycle. Blinkers are sometimes incorporated into helmets, gloves, shoes, saddles, and handlebars.
What to use this Fall
Mount a pair of blinkers to the bike (one front and one back). Switch on the blinkers when riding in low light and high traffic. A front light makes things safer if your route will be unlit for any portion. Overall, think ahead before your next ride and pack to ensure you can see in the dark while others can see you.