When I first started riding bikes lights were not widely used and considered to be “uncool.” People who had flashing red lights on their bikes were generally newbies or people who were kind of dorky. I resisted using lights on my bike for a long time because I had these ideas drilled into my head early on. However, in more recent years, lights have been deemed an essential piece of equipment for cycling safety.
Studies have shown, that having a flashing light on your bike, even during the day, makes you more likely to be seen by a driver. How much more likely are you to be seen? According to an article written in VeloNews, “research has shown a whopping 270% increase in driver recognition of a cyclist with a flashing rear light compared to without.” Flashing being the key word in that sentence. You really want that light to flash in a somewhat irregular pattern that will catch a motorist’s attention.
Here is another scenario; think about being in a crowded room and you are scanning the crowd looking for a friend. You see your friend and they seem to look straight at you, but they don’t actually see you. I feel like most people have had this experience at one time or another. Now imagine you had a blinking red light on your hand and waved it around as they glanced past you; there is a much greater chance that the light would catch their attention and they would notice you.
This same idea applies to using lights on the road. Think of the typical driver, they come to an intersection and look quickly right and left before proceeding. They probably have other things on their mind, kids yelling in the car, phones ringing; and they really are just looking for other cars. They may look right at you and not even see you. If you have daytime running lights on your bike, you will be more likely to catch the driver’s attention, be seen and a possible accident avoided.
You can get a basic bike light for as little as ten or fifteen dollars. A slightly more expensive light may be brighter and better, (I personally use the Bontrager Flare R light) but any light is better than no light at all. If you ride on the roads, even casually, it is worth the investment to try and give yourself some additional visibility. People are only getting more and more distracted on the roads, so anything you can do to help ensure that you make it home safely after every ride is worth it.