Welcome to the dark side, folks.
Days are getting shorter, and if you’re a runner or cyclist, you’re probably spending more time exercising when the sun’s down. That means it’s time to deck yourself out in high-visibility gear.
I’ve got enough day-glow yellow and pink in my wardrobe that I could have a second career on a road crew. I’m cool with that – I’d rather look like a Christmas tree than get hit on the street.
I’ve got neon yellow and pink shirts, a bright pink with reflective trim cycling vest, bike-mounted lights, hand-held lights and a helmet with blinking lights wrapped all the way around it. I even have a pair of gloves with blinking arrows on them for signaling turns.
(Nathan Sports carries a line of high-vis lights and vests; so does Knuckle Lights. Brooks sells neon-colored clothing with reflective trim.)
Small, clip-on flashing lights are also handy. You can find a variety of them at area bike and running shops or online for a few bucks each.
When I’m cycling, I flip on the front white headlamp on my bike, along with a flashing red tail light and an assortment of side lights. Most days I also wear a hot pink safety vest.
According to Nathan Sports, runners who wear effective visibility gear can be seen from six times the distance than those who don’t. Drivers can also more easily recognize the human form when runners wear multiple points of light. Look for shoes, shirts, vests, caps, cuffs and ankle bands with reflective material or lights.
Here are some more tips from Nathan Sports for those heading out to run, walk or ride in the dark:
1. Carry a light to illuminate the path in front of you.
2. Wear multiple points of light to help drivers recognize your presence.
3. Make sure you are visible from 360 degrees – front, sides and behind.
4. Wear high-visibility colors.
5. Run against the direction of oncoming cars – not with traffic.
The makers of Brooks NightLife gear point out that time of day isn’t the only factor in dressing safely for a run.
Environment (city or country), lighting (day, dusk, dark), weather (clear, foggy, rainy, snowy), driver attentiveness (calling, texting, stressed, calm), even the cleanliness of a driver’s windshield make a difference. The goal is not just to make the driver spot a runner, but that the driver recognizes the runner – or cyclist – as a human being.
Three things that make you stand out? Fluorescence, contrast and reflectivity.
Look for clothing with reflectivity in key motion areas, so you are seen as a human in motion.
I used to worry that I look like a rodeo clown when I’m kitted up in Safety Pam gear. I no longer care.
The point is not to get hit by a car while I’m out exercising, and if that means impersonating a traffic pylon, so be it.