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5 Ways to Cycle Safely in the City


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Be Visible
Many states require you to have a red light or reflector with at least 600 feet of visibility for the rear of your bike.
Many states require you to have a red light or reflector with at least 600 feet of visibility for the rear of your bike.
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By now it should be clear that the most important thing a biker can do to ensure safe passage along busy city streets is to be seen. Bright day-glo colors aren't just for burned out Haight Street hippies and Alice in Wonderland remakes, they're also the uniform of smart cyclists. Especially at night. High visibility shirts and reflective vests draw attention. So too do bike-mounted reflectors and flashing lights [source: Transportation Alternatives].

In many states, cyclists are required to have a headlight in order to ride at night. For the same reasons that you want others on the road to see you, it's also a good idea to be able to see what's on the road once the sun goes down, whether it's pot holes, speed bumps or small animals. "Front and rear lights are our eyes to the world at night and make us bigger and brighter on the street," say the New York City-based cycling safety enthusiasts at Transportation Alternatives. A white light with at least 500 feet (152 meters) of visibility for the front and a red back light with at least 600 feet (182 meters) of visibility is a good start [sources: Transportation Alternatives, Portland Bureau of Transportation].

Headlamps, like the ones donned by coal miners and cave divers, can also help light up the night. If you're in the market for one of these wearable beams, be sure to consider the lamp's power (measured in lumens), distance (the light's useable range) and battery life [source: REI].


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