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A ‘bright’ idea: Staying safe with proper bicycle lighting
As the fall season encroaches onto our calendars, it brings with it shorter hours of daylight, patches of fog, and inclement weather. People wishing to enjoy cycling through the fall and winter need to be properly equipped for riding in conditions with poor visibility.
Last month, a 64-year-old Richmond man was struck down while riding his bike. This recent tragic incident has drummed up a discussion on cycling safety in our community. In this article, we discuss proper bicycle lighting; every person, regardless of their level, should have proper lighting and reflective gear when riding at night.
Proper bicycle lighting is critical for three reasons:
1) It is the law: Section 183 of the Provincial Motor Vehicle Act states that all bicycles used between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise must be equipped with a front light, a red rear light, and a red rear reflector.
2) It helps to illuminate your path and helps you to see hazards, such as potholes, other people on bicycles and pedestrians.
3) It allows other road users to see you and predict your movements. It is unfathomable for us to imagine an automobile without functional headlamps or tail lamps and those riding their bike at night are held to the same standard.
Let’s discuss three pieces of equipment that can make your bike ride more enjoyable. It’s easy and affordable to illuminate your bike!
1. Headlamps. Headlamps come in two varieties: helmet or bicycle mounted. You may choose to purchase both types for maximal lighting. These headlamps usually use white LED bulbs and can emit steady or pulsating light. They are either USB rechargeable or battery operated and come in a wide range of brightness levels.
2. Tail lamps. Tail lamps are inexpensive but indispensable. They make you more visible to other road users. As with headlamps, these are mostly battery operated and can emit steady or pulsating red light.
3. Reflectors. This piece of equipment is an unsung hero in bicycle lighting and safety. In the correct conditions, they are just as visible as your rear lights. Should your rear lights fail, a reflector may be the only thing that distinguishes you from the surrounding darkness or fog for other road users. By law, you are required to have red rear reflectors. However, amber reflectors are about 2.5 times brighter than red reflectors, which you may want to consider for additional visibility.
A word on reflective clothing:
Reflective clothing is never a replacement for proper bicycle lighting. However, it is it is a fantastic addition to staying visible on the road. Most cycling clothing now comes with reflective strips or patches. The cost of reflective clothing is highly variable, depending on the type of clothing, material, fabric, and waterproofing (a must for Vancouver!). A cheap and effective option may be to buy a reflective vest or sash that you can wear on rides. Most stores also sell reflective tape that you can wrap on clothing, bags and bicycle parts.
Illuminating your bike is incredibly affordable. Lights and reflectors are a fantastic way to make cycling safer and more enjoyable, especially during your early morning or night autumn and winter rides.
HUB: Your Cycling Connection is a charity whose mission is to make cycling an attractive choice for everyone in Metro Vancouver. We carry out our mission by providing cycling education, encouragement and by encouraging decision makers to make better provisions for cycling in our community. Our vision is a future where cycling has become the preferred transportation option for Metro Vancouver.
We want to remind everyone that our Fall Bike to Work Week is coming up from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3. You can register for this event at www.biketoworkmetrovan.ca
HUB Richmond/YVR Committee