Warning to cyclists: be bright and visible as the nights draw in

Posted on October 24th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 09.06.48The clocks go back this weekend. It’s a good time to reflect on new research that reveals how many cyclists are putting themselves at risk by not being seen. A survey by Autoglass shows they are forgetting to use bike lights and wear high visibility clothing as the evenings get darker.

The survey, of 1000 cyclists, found that almost half (48%) admit to being caught out without lights or high-vis clothing when the clocks go back.

Commuter cyclists are most likely to be unwittingly caught out, with 63% admitting to forgetting to take the basic equipment needed to make themselves be seen on the road on their cycle home from work. More than half (57%) of cyclists surveyed admitted they could take more action to make themselves visible to other road-users in the dark. Less than half of all cyclists say they regularly use the equipment needed to keep them visible and seen on the road. Just 39% regularly wear high-vis clothing, 42% regularly use headlamps on their bike and a minority 27% regularly use brake lights.

To tackle the issue, the cyclists surveyed think that mandatory measures are the answer. Almost a third (31%) feel that making high visibility jackets compulsory for cyclists on the road would be useful to ensure safety and one in five (21%) says that better lighting on the roads would also help.

The research found that young cyclists are amongst the most likely to be unprepared for the clocks going back. 60% of 18-24 year olds gamble with their safety by not getting kitted out with basic items needed to be easily seen on the road during the darker days. 50% of this age group confessed to having had an accident or near miss whilst riding a bike – a higher proportion than the older respondents surveyed.

14% of younger cyclists report being in an accident, more likely than any other age group and twice as likely as older cyclists (7% of over 55 year olds). Young people are also far more likely than the average cyclist to risk distraction by riding when using an MP3 player or iPod, with 27% admitting this vs. 15% of all respondents.

According to the Department of Transport’s latest figures, 118 cyclists were killed on Britain’s roads in 2012, up from 107 in 2011 and accounting for 7% of all road deaths. The number of cyclists seriously injured increased by 4 per cent to 3,222.

Autoglass managing director Matthew Mycock said: “Cyclists are the only group of road users at increased risk of injury and death on the roads over recent years and ‘stealth-cycling’ shouldn’t be an option.  It’s crucial that cyclists do all they can to protect themselves and standing out with high visibility clothing can help to save lives. This is why, linked to our partnership with Brake, we are supporting the Brake ‘Bright Day’ campaign to remind cyclists to think about their winter cycling equipment this weekend and get ready for the darker evenings, and to remind drivers to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Remembering to use simple items such as bike lights, high visibility jackets, brightly coloured clothes, glow-in-the-dark stickers and reflectors will ensure better safety in the months ahead”. Bright Day is an initiative to raise awareness of the importance of good visibility, particularly in the darker winter months.