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Greenbelt
08-14-2011, 09:29 AM
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A couple weeks ago, I was just getting home at dusk when a older guy waved from the sidewalk. I stopped to say hello. He said he had seen me riding around town. Then he sort of chastised me and told me I need to be more visible -- he said he sometimes couldn't see me when he was driving at night.

I was sort of speechless. I just said thanks and rode down the driveway. At the time, I was wearing a white jersey and white socks. My shoes have reflective spots and my backpack has a reflective yellow armband attached. I had a red blinky going on the back of my bright yellow helmet, and white light blinking on the front. My bike is totally dorked out with white reflective tape and stickers, and my tires have reflective sidewalls.

My first thought was that if this guy is that blind he should have given up his drivers license a long time ago! But on reflection (get it?), it made me vow to be even more visible. There are lots of old people in my neighborhood, and some of them probably do have terrible dusk or night vision. (Some of them drink a lot too or are pretty heavily medicated I think, based on their weaving, inconsistent driving.)

So I have devised a new backpack vest. It's a $10 safety vest from Home Depot with a hole punched near the bottom so I can clip it down to the bottom of my backpack. I then wear the vest over my backpack through my arms over top of the backpack straps.

I do think it helps increase visibility. And it has a lovely billowing effect on the sides, which probably adds extra noticeability. Stylish as well as functional I think.

skreaminquadz
08-14-2011, 09:49 AM
Great idea with the vest GB. Interesting, that you have taken way more effort into making yourself visible than I have, but I've never received the feedback you have in my 4 years of commuting. Now I'm wondering how visible I really am....

PotomacCyclist
08-14-2011, 12:38 PM
Many of those weaving drivers are probably talking or texting on their cellphones. Or websurfing on a smartphone.

eminva
08-14-2011, 01:24 PM
Many of those weaving drivers are probably talking or texting on their cellphones. Or websurfing on a smartphone.

Yes. If someone could devise an app that would make us show up on their screen . . . now THAT would improve our visibility!

Liz

OneEighth
08-14-2011, 01:33 PM
There is an older guy I see fairly often on the MVT and 4 Mile Run who drapes a safety vest over his backpack. Not sure how well it works because I don't recall ever seeing him in low-light conditions.
The billowing effect would drive me nuts...

Greenbelt
08-14-2011, 06:20 PM
The billowing effect would drive me nuts...

It doesn't parachute or flap around. I don't even notice it except when I see my shadow. Shadow does have an odd cape-like form though!

ronwalf
08-14-2011, 11:10 PM
I had a red blinky going on the back of my bright yellow helmet

Can you hook the blinky to the frame? I've seen a number of backpack and helmet mounted blinkies that are nigh-invisible because they end up pointed the wrong direction.

5555624
08-15-2011, 01:32 AM
I tend to avoid using a backpack for this reason. (My main bike has panniers.) If I am just carrying a laptop in my backpack, my illuminite vest will fit -- tightly -- over the backpack and me. If the backpack is full or it's winter and I've got layers on, I do have a blinky with 180-degree range.

I normally only use one rear light, but in those cases, I'll usually use two. (I have one on the end of my rack and on my seat post.)

KLizotte
08-15-2011, 02:25 PM
There's a real market opportunity there for the backpack manufacturers I think - make backpacks in obnoxious neon yellow with reflective material so we don't have to cobble something together.

I recently added to the dorkiness of my bike by attaching Nite IzeŽ SpokeLit LED lights. They fit inside the spokes so when I'm riding you see a circle of color. Mine change color every minute or so (yellow, purple, red, etc) so they really get people's attention, esp kiddies who typically stop and point. The other day a guy stopped dead in the crosswalk and took a second look; he then commented that I was lit up like the solar system. I told him I was celebrating Xmas year round.

I bought the lights at LLBean. Here's is the website: http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/59518?page=nite-ize-spokelit-led

Greenbelt
08-15-2011, 03:02 PM
Can you hook the blinky to the frame? I've seen a number of backpack and helmet mounted blinkies that are nigh-invisible because they end up pointed the wrong direction.

I do have a seat-post light that I use in addition to the helmet light when it's raining. But I usually just reach back and turn on the helmet light at dusk -- it may be a good idea stop and turn on the seatpost light too -- I'm not bendable enough to do that while moving though.

dbb
08-17-2011, 08:21 PM
I have something called a "pack pelt" from Ogio

It is available from a number of sites but I got mine from Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Ogio-Pack-Pelt-Viz/dp/B0035JNK5U

It is a bit more elegant than hanging a reflective vest on your backpack.

LilBit
08-22-2011, 07:44 PM
Yes. If someone could devise an app that would make us show up on their screen . . . now THAT would improve our visibility!

Liz

There are so many new features of cars nowadays that motorists SHOULD be able to see us, but I think those features just make the general driving population that much less aware of what (or who) else is out there.

bikenurse
08-31-2011, 02:07 PM
The vest and backpack makes you look a bit kyphotic in shadow, and the "cape" though not exactly fashionable, does make you more visible (and you really weren't entirely visible at dusk, even with the blinkies). It's kind of a neon osteoporotic super hero kind of look. The backpack by itself is black and invisible. The blinkies are good, but it is hard to know what you're looking at (from a drivers perspective) when all you can see are a few small blinking lights.

Greenbelt
08-31-2011, 03:34 PM
woo hoo! I'm a "neon osteoporotic super hero!"

Fulfills a childhood dream.