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How can I make myself more visible during the day?

Maybe something to put on my helmet (so it's easy to remember).

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Why do you think you aren't visible? Are there some specific situations you encounter where you feel particularly vulnerable or interacting with other road users where you feel your visibility suffers unusually that the standard solutions (flourescent, retro-reflective materials or active lighting) do not adequately cover? – Unsliced May 1 '12 at 19:34
Whenever possible, attempt to establish eye contact with the driver. Obviously this doesn't work with an overtaking car, but it is a good strategy at intersections. Eye contact somehow helps communicate intent between the two parties. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 18 '12 at 12:14
Peddling though is helpful too - I have an electric bike and have noticed I'm less visible if I'm just sitting on it while rolling down the road. Something about the reciprocating leg motion helps the driver's hind-brain notice you more. Same applies to normal bikes coasting of course. – Criggie Aug 31 at 4:09

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

1. Wear hi-visibility color on your torso.

That really bright yellow/green color is best. The orange is pretty good, too.

I've seen stuff that's striped in both colors or is primarily one with a some bands of the other, and that seems like probably the best option, so that you still stand out against a background that matches the hi-viz color.

Helmet and leg stuff wouldn't hurt, but will tend to be less effective than torso, since the helmet is fairly small and your legs are fairly low.

There's a lot of available options for getting hi-viz colors on your torso. Most include reflective bits. Things like: a safety vest, a hi-viz safety triangle belt, a hi-viz cycling vest, a hi-viz cycling jacket, a hi-viz cycling jersey, a hi-viz t-shirt, or even just a regular t-shirt in a bright visible color... Most bike-shops will have a hi-viz jersey and hi-viz cycling vest or cycling jacket available. "Work wear" shops that sell uniforms and other work-clothes will often stock a variety of high-visibility stuff.

2. Attach hi-visibility colors to the bike.

A safety triangle hanging from the back of the saddle. A bag under your saddle in a hi-viz color. Hi-viz colored panniers. Hi-viz colored reflective tape on your fenders or other parts of the bike.

This will be lower and smaller than on your torso, but couldn't hurt.

3. Bright flashing lights

You need unusually bright lights for them to have a chance of being at all useful in full daylight.

I have the Cygolite HotShot that won the Tail light review on our blog. It's definitely visible in daylight when it's in a flashing mode. My 300 lumen headlight in flashing mode is also visible in daylight.

4. Ride visibly and predictably

Ride where you'll be seen. Ride where cars will be looking for you. Don't ride in the gutter or hug the curb. Merge into the lane position a car would use to go straight when approaching a place that a car can turn across your path. Claim the lane when appropriate. Take a safe cycling course, or at least read up about Vehicular Cycling.

This is probably actually the best thing to do.

5. Ride with other bicyclists.

Hard not to see a pack of 20 cyclists riding close together.

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+1 on point 4. It can't be stressed enough. Motorists expect other motorists to be clear on what they are doing in traffic, and if cyclists do the same you will automatically avoid confusion and a lot of dangerous situations. When approaching an intersection, clearly mark which lane you intend to ride, ride in the middle of the lane and give a hand signal. – jurgemaister May 2 '12 at 7:23

Safety can be thought of as a packet of swiss cheese slices. Each slice is an imperfect barrier (crashes progress through the holes) but if you have enough slices you can eventually block all the holes and have a strong system preventing crashes.

Visibility and a helmet is the last line of your swiss cheese defence.

I absolutely agree with riding predictable vehicular style but always be prepared to take evasive action. The more escape paths available the better you can deal with the unexpected.

People see what they expect to see. Looking is different to seeing. Look here and you will see.

Now you will hopefully never assume a driver has seen you. This does not mean you give way to everybody though, usually just a judgment on safe buffer distance and speed. Is the driver looking at me? Do they appear distracted (mobile phone, screaming kids, headbanging teens, dog licking drivers face)? Are their wheels starting to roll forward anyway?

I also have a spinning rainbow windsock attached to a flag on our baby trailer. I think the colour, motion, size and wtf factor all contribute to drivers looking and seeing. The kids like it too.

The windsock flag stuck in a backpack has also been good protection from swooping birds, during nesting season magpies and butcher birds are more psycho scary than any driver.

Some recent (night time) research also found drivers differentiate humans from inanimate objects faster when reflectives placed on joints (Google visibility biomotion qut)

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Add width to your profile, adding it to your bike permanently will make it easy not to forget it.

I ride a recumbent trike as well as a recumbent bike. The trike is a bit lower down than the bike, has a less bright frame colour and neither has a flag at the moment but it the trike has had one but at that time the friend I mostly cycled with had a flag as well, one that is more visible than mine.

The trike always gets a wide berth of cars and the bike, both mine and that of my friend, are more often getting 'last moment adjustment' reactions of cars indicating they had not been seen early.

I live in the Netherlands where most of my riding is on bike paths, bike lanes and low traffic roads. But I have been riding in the UK, most notably through London and the trike did get respect from cars that ignored upright bikes to the point of almost forcing them off the street.

In Germany they sell an item that makes a bike seem wider, a lollipop style reflector that is mounted so it is to the side of the bike, making the bike seem twice as wide. lollipop style reflector


When searching for an image for the lollipop reflector I also saw a flag to be mounted to the side of the bike.

Yellow flag mounted on a rear rack

bestcyclebikes M-Wave-Safety-Flagpole-Yellow

Both pictures found on the net, not sure if there is the needed permission to use them on this site.

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A hub dynamo is probably the most convenient way to stay visible. Thenr your front and rear lights will be always on and you don't forget to recharge them.

Modern hub dynamo is very quiet and smooth to ride. The lights are bright enough safe night riding too.

I don't recommend using blinking lights because they are distracting to other road users and you are just as visible with still lights. With proper lights you don't need any bright garments.

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In terms of visibility I think the combination of that wretched high visibility yellow/green and lights is the way to go. In bright daylight I've noticed that the high visibility stuff doesn't show up very well when a rider is in and out of shade – especially if the shade is at the edge of the road and the rest of the road is in sun.

In that situation a bright lights – especially ones like the Busch & Müller Cyo that have a daytime running light mode that has a rounder (no sharp cutoff at the top of the beam like "night lights") beam designed for daytime visibility. A really big, bright tail light also helps the bike stand out to following cars when riding into the sun (when his visibility clothing is also in shadow).

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