If you live in Lake Charles and like to get around by bicycle, you have a big advantage over people in many parts of the country in winter. The weather is still warm enough to keep it enjoyable without the need for masses of extra warm clothing.
Yet, while daylight hours do not get as short as in the northern states, there is still a higher chance you will be riding in darkness over the next few months. What can you do to prepare for this?
Visibility is key
There are two primary issues to consider. First, you need to be able to see the road so you can avoid potholes or other dangers. A good front light can help here, but even better is choosing well-lit routes. The second is ensuring you can easily be seen by others. Louisiana law requires a white light on the front, a red light and red reflector on the rear, and reflectors on each side of your bicycle. Adding extra lights can help grab motorists’ attention, as can additional elements of fluorescent or reflective materials.
Some cyclists opt for luminous clothing, but others prefer something more subtle, such as reflective trouser clips – the up-and-down movement can really help to get you noticed. Adding a small clip-on flashing light higher up the body – perhaps on a backpack or attached to your helmet – can also help you stand out when your lower body and bicycle lights are obscured by other vehicles.
Being seen also involves thinking about your route choice – it’s usually easier for motorists to see you where there are street lights than where there are none. Routes where many people cycle can also be safer, as motorists are more likely to be looking out for cyclists than on routes where people rarely ride.
Doing your best to stay safe and visible reduces the chance a motorist will injure you. Additionally, being proactive can strengthen a compensation claim if you do end up hit by a negligent driver.