See and Be Seen

I want to kick it off with something simple, and it doesn’t really get much simpler than this:

If you’re ever biking after dark, you need bike lights.

Might seem like common sense that being seen on the road is integral to safe riding, but I’ve seen loads of un-lit cyclists lately. Some are straight-up sans lights and others are just lit inadequately by feeble flashers (which can be obscured by even small shifts in posture) clipped to their backpacks.

At night, lights are even more important than helmets. I’m serious! Without lights, you’re effectively invisible!

And in the event of an accident, being invisible could cost you — big time. If a driver hits you at night and you didn’t have lights on, a jury’s likely to find you partially at fault. You could get nothing. Protecting your rights means being seen by other vehicles.

Lucky for Boston bikers, there’s a law in to address this very issue: Massachusetts General Law Ch. 85 §11B(8). It mandates that cyclists have a white front light that can be seen from 500 ft. From the rear, you need a red light or reflector visible from at least 600 ft (when headlights are shining on it). You also require reflectors in the feet region: on your pedals or around your ankles.

This law applies from 30min after sunset until 30min before sunrise which, in fall and winter, often includes commuting hours. Good ol’ New England.

Personally, I use at least a rear light even before it’s dark out. A flashy enough flasher (like this guy) is visible even to drivers blinded by the setting sun on Storrow Drive. I recommend decking out with as many lights and reflectors as will fit (see this perfect third panel).

So light up, everybody. It means taking initiative for your safety, which is always a BRIGHT(!) idea.


IMAGE via flickr

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