I signal when I’m riding my bike. No one wants to add unnecessary confusion when riding a bike where cars and traffic is concerned. I know I’ll come off second best in a bingle with anything bigger than another bike rider. If in doubt, ring, signal and/or nod so that you and other drivers know what to expect. But should you always signal?
The SMH’s resident cycling blogger @MichaelOReily ponders the question in his latest ‘On Your Bike’ blog post.
He rightly says that “As vulnerable road users, cyclists should always try to alert other vehicles of their intentions. But indicating while riding a bicycle is a lot more complicated than it is in a car, where the driver just has to flick a lever and then let the solenoid do its job.”
To signal or not to signal, that is the question he considers and he reckons that you’ve got to take into consideration a few points such as driver behaviour, injury risk, loss of braking and loss of control when weighing up whether to take your hands off the handlebars.
Do you signal? Is it a two-finger salute when someone’s come a bit too close, a friendly wave or a serious turning hand? I guess as bike riders we’ve got to use some or all of these signals depending on the circumstances, eh?
I have always assumed the yellow, orange bright jackets and tops was a good way to be visible while reading. Although I have read on some bike sites that orange is actually more visible than yellow, despite the fact that most high-vis cycling gear is luminous yellow. I ride in both summer and winter with yellow high-vis tops or jackets.
So I was intrigued to read this article on the BikeWise website about whether visible positioning or clothing has the greater impact on making a rider seen by pedestrians, cars and other traffic. I thought I’d publish some of the article on my blog as is raises some useful questions about the most sensible, and defensive, way to ride a bike. I guess it’s also a reminder about not getting complacent and assuming you’ll be spotted because you’ve got a blowing yellow jacket on while riding.
The full article is at the BikeWise website and is Hi-Vis Clothing vs. Hi-Vis Road Positioning.
“…we think it’s your road positioning that has a much greatest impact on your safety and visibility in traffic. … If you ride near the centre of the lane, you are far more visible there than on the far left of the road near the ‘door zone’.”
This is because most drivers’ eyes are conditioned to look to the centre of the lane to see on-coming vehicles approaching. If you ride near the centre of the lane in such situations, you’re going to get seen. As an added benefit, you’re also going to see any cars approaching much sooner, because you have a better sightline of the intersection.
Visibility essentially comes down to two things: Seeing and Being Seen. Wearing Hi-Vis clothing will enhance your visibility, especially at night and when there is reduced light, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that wearing a fluro vest will instantly make you visible to all other road users. In the words of London Cyclist:
“My argument here isn’t against high vis clothing. My argument is: Don’t just rely on high vis clothing. There is something that far surpasses the power of high vis. Road positioning.”