Visibility - Now you See Him, Now you Don't

The Invisible Biker
“I just didn’t see him” We have all heard that before, haven’t we?

While it angers and frustrates the two wheel community, the fact is that there is a big problem with visibility. The only way this problem can begin to be resolved is when we bikers do the responsible thing: which is to ride knowing that sometimes you won’t be seen.

It is human to not see things, especially if we are preoccupied; looking for something else or simply convinced it isn’t there. Think of the keys you couldn’t find that were next to your coffee cup all along but you looked on the key hook. Or the note your wife or husband left you on the fridge and you didn’t see it even though you opened the fridge door. Sometimes we just can’t see things.

Why do other {human} road users not see motorbike riders?

1. We are smaller
2. We move differently

We have to make ourselves more visible. The most effective and simple thing to do is make ourselves appear bigger and more interesting so people see us. How?

• Wear a bright jacket and helmet especially if your bike is black
• In poor lighting and bad weather wear neon, reflective safety jacket
• Always ride with your headlight on
• Make sure your tail lights are working
• Use an orange headlight cover to make your bike’s light stand out and indicate there is a bike approaching

We move differently in the traffic. We are small and nimble; often riding faster than cars and changing lanes quickly. So if a car is travelling slowly the driver is observing in a way that is appropriate for that speed. It just IS possible to move through traffic without being spotted in mirrors. And don’t assume that you will be heard, even with a loud exhaust; it would be a wrong assumption with disasterous consequences.

How can I change my riding?

• Scan and plan all the time
• Look at other road users to see what they are doing, especially if they are distracted, eg fiddling with a cell phones, kids, lipstick or music
• When you are moving faster or weaving, assume you are not seen and adapt your riding, putting your hazard detection on high alert
• Approach every junction as a potential danger; looking in all directions including behind you
• Use every opportunity to look ahead, far ahead, so you know what is happening in the distance
• When you see potential hazards react immediately, assuming you aren’t seen.
• Stay out of blind spots
• Be strategic and plan to have space around you. Always have options so you can get out of the way
• Be aware of YOUR blind spots

If I have one little bit of wisdom to pass on, it is that in this world we can control nothing and nobody but ourselves. So look, plan and ride safely.