Cyclist Visibility Techniques

Every year, unsuspecting cyclists suffer serious injuries in bicycle-vehicle collisions in Nevada. Many bike accidents involve low bicyclist visibility or distracted drivers. While these crashes may not be the cyclist’s fault, it is clear who stands to lose the most in this type of collision. Before you ride a bike in Nevada, take steps to enhance your visibility to decrease your odds of a serious bicycle accident.

Use Lights and Reflectors

Drivers are used to scanning the road and seeing things that are designed to be highly visible, such as reflective street signs and stoplights. Their brains may subconsciously fail to register a cyclist who does not have adequate lights. You can improve your visibility to motor vehicle drivers by using permanent running lights – meaning keeping your lights on even during the day.

Nevada law requires nighttime cyclists to use a white front lamp visible from at least 500 feet away and a red tail reflector visible from 300 feet away. Studies have shown that flashing bicycle lights work best to enhance visibility during the daytime. Powerful flashing lights can be noticed by drivers even on a sunny day and set a bicycle apart from the surrounding environment. 

Lights should be attached to both the front and rear of a bicycle, with a minimum daytime output of 20 lumens for optimal visibility. At nighttime, a steady headlight pattern is better than flashing lights unless you are in a brightly lit city environment, such as the Las Vegas Strip. Putting lights or reflectors on your wheels can also help drivers see your bike.

Wear Bright and Reflective Clothing

What you wear while you bike can help improve your visibility to others. You can benefit from wearing bright and colorful clothing rather than only relying on lights, reflectors and reflective strips. Studies show that fluorescent colors are recognized faster and from farther away than standard colors in daytime conditions. Bright fluorescents such as oranges and yellows are a good way to stand out from the natural environment.

When cycling at night, colors don’t matter as much as reflectivity. The best way to improve your visibility in dark conditions is to wear reflective material, such as a jacket or vest, that can bounce the light from vehicle headlights back at a driver. Putting reflective material on your ankles and knees, which move more than your stationary upper body, can help you be more recognizable to drivers as a cyclist rather than a fixed object such as a street sign.

Keep Your Movements Predictable

Drivers process dozens of pieces of information as they drive. This is a subconscious part of operating a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, this can lead to “tunnel vision,” where a driver only sees things he or she is expecting to see. This may not include a bicyclist darting through traffic or pulling out from a driveway.

You can improve the odds of a driver noticing you on your bike by keeping your movements predictable. Obey all state and local traffic laws, including biking in the same direction as traffic, coming to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs, yielding the right-of-way to others, and staying on the right-hand side of the road as much as possible. Keep at least three feet of distance between your bicycle and motor vehicles. Being where a driver expects you can keep you safe from collisions.

If you get hit by a car on your bicycle in Nevada despite your best efforts to optimize visibility, contact a Las Vegas bicycle accident attorney at Koch & Brim, LLP for a free case consultation. You may be eligible for financial compensation from the driver’s insurance company.