The biggest key to a safe bike ride is seeing and being seen by approaching automobiles.
A 2015 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealed that while accidents in which a cyclist was hit from behind accounted for only 9 percent of car-bike crashes, those incidents caused 45 percent of fatalities.
Because today is Bicycle Day, Consumer Reports looked into the best ways to stay safe when sharing the road with motor vehicles. Note that while the specific products mentioned here illustrate the kind of gear that is available, Consumer Reports did not test these products. (We do test bike helmets. Check our buying guide and ratings of bike helmets.)
Technology is coming to the aid of cyclists who want to be visible to approaching motorists—night and day. Like daytime running lights on a car, bike lights with super-bright LED bulbs make you stand out on even the brightest days.
The Bontrager Flare R Tail Light, $60, for example, is marketed specifically for daytime use, being bright enough (65 lumens) and light enough (about 1.2 ounces), and packing enough battery life (almost 6 hours in daytime blink mode) to allow for a safe ride.
When you’re riding, the thing that’s most visible to an approaching driver isn’t your bike, it’s your body. So consider donning bright-colored jerseys, jackets, or vests that stand out against the roadside scenery. If you’re riding at night or dusk, reflective fabric—or even trim on the sleeves or jersey pockets—can supplement mandatory lights and reflectors.
Few things are more important for a rider than seeing traffic approaching from behind. Prudent cyclists have a variety of options to find out what’s coming up.
The Third Eye mirror, $11 to $13, attaches to the temple of glasses or sunglasses or to a bike helmet. The Cycle Aware ViewPoint, $15, approaches the problem from a different angle with a fingernail-sized mirror that attaches to the inside surface of a sunglass lens. Other models, like the sleek Cycle Aware Roadie, $20, or Wingman, $18, attach to the end of drop or straight handlebars.
Safety Tech for Cyclists
How do you reach out for help when you’re riding alone? The Garmin Edge Explore 1000 bicycle computer, $450, includes a built-in accelerometer that can detect a fall and automatically call a predetermined emergency contact when paired with a compatible smartphone. And apps like the safety program Find Me Fast send your location to an emergency contact if the user isn’t moving and is unresponsive to an alarm.
A Bracelet, Just in Case
Though cyclists are more likely than, say, runners to carry a smartphone or a wallet with ID in a pocket or saddle bag, riders should still wear an ICE—In Case of Emergency—bracelet that includes their name, address, emergency contact number, and information about allergies or other medical conditions.
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