Riding your bike is a great way to get exercise, because it gives your entire body a workout: you have to use your calf muscles, your quads, and even a bit of your stomach muscles. And yet, you can take a break when you need to and just coast. You can ride your bike to do any of the errands that you have to do right in your own neighborhood. You can carry groceries home on your bike and another passenger. Bicycles can be a fun and liberating way to get around, especially since you don’t have to pay for parking!
But before you get the bike out this spring, take a moment to consider your safety. Sharing the road with cars can be dangerous. This risk factor increases about 10-fold once the sun goes down and darkness settles in. There’s no reason why you have to confine the health benefits of cycling to the daylight hours—just make sure you can be adequately seen when riding at night.
If this seems like common sense and not worth mentioning, consider the results of a recent clinical trial. Researchers in Queensland, Australia conducted an interesting study in which they asked cyclists at what distance they thought drivers would first recognize them.
The researchers asked 25 people to cycle on stationary bikes in simulated darkness. Then, the cyclists’ were asked to indicate at what point they were sure an approaching driver would notice them. The researchers had the cyclists’ wear black clothing alone or with a fluorescent vest with reflective tape, or with a reflective vest plus knee and ankle reflectors. The bikes also had a handlebar-mounted light that was static or blinked on and off.
The participants felt that black clothing made them the least visible, not surprisingly. However, they also thought that reflective tape added to the vest made no difference to their visibility. Also, those who were termed “occasional cyclists” tended to overestimate their belief in their visibility. Overall, everyone believed that arm and ankle reflective bands made them very visible. The researchers concluded that cyclists have “dangerous misconceptions” about their visibility.
Whether it’s nighttime or daytime, make yourself as visible as possible. It’s important to wear bright colors and use flashing lights and clothing with reflective tape at night.
Alternately, click here to find out about an amazing, alternative way to cycle, without having to deal with any cars or worry about injuries.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Wood, J.M., et al., “Bicyclists overestimate their own night-time conspicuity and underestimate the benefits of retroreflective markers on the moveable joints,” Accid Anal Prev. March 1, 2013; 55C:48-53.
Wanner, M., et al., “Active transport, physical activity, and body weight in adults: a systematic review,” Am J Prev Med May2012; 42(5): 493-502.