More than 40% of cycling accidents involve being hit by a car from the side. This is one of several statistics that has triggered the launch of the ‘Be Bright’ cycling campaign in 12 cities around New Zealand.
Each year in New Zealand, an average of 10 cyclists are killed and a further 300 require hospitalized as a result of an accident involving a motor vehicle.
Most cyclists have it sorted when it comes to basic cycle safety – helmets, high visibility clothing and front and rear bike lights. The odd cyclist even has a bike bell. However it is riding in low light where cyclists aren’t visible to other road users from the side that is the biggest cause for concern.
As cyclists we often ride past an intersection in low light wondering if a car might pull out in front as a result of not seeing us in time or at all. It’s also very common to be sitting behind the wheel of a car at an intersection at the same time a cyclist rides passes without side visibility and thinking that cyclist was lucky I didn’t pull out.
The solution to preventing these ‘side swipe’ accidents from occurring is therefore quite simple - get yourself bike lights that provide 360 degree visibility. Most cycle shops I’ve been into only tend to sell standard front and rear bike lights, which will explain why most bikes don’t display side light visibility.
Having done some research, it appears that New Zealand online store Bells and Whistles cater best to these types of lights. They stock the LED Halo Belt, which can be clipped around your waist or over your shoulder. This is also great for those that run in the dark. Or you can choose from one of two MonkeyLectric lights which appear to be the most effective means to achieving side visibility. They’ve also got the Fibre Flare, which is a tube rear light that can be seen 360 degrees.
Most cyclists probably aren’t aware that a $55 fine is handed out to cyclists who fail to operate bike lights when riding in low light. This means 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. The NZ Transport Agency tells us that it is also compulsory in New Zealand to have a rear reflector and pedal reflectors.
The ‘Be Bright’ Campaign is aimed at reminding cyclists to light up their bikes as much as possible, wear high visibility clothing and keep themselves as safe as possible on the roads this winter.