Community Engagement

What can bicyclists learn from motorcyclists?

Ride safely this summer! TEAM OREGON gives tips on “Conspicuity”, the ability to draw attention to yourself, even when others are not actively looking for you.

TEAM OREGON offers safety tips for commuters on two wheels

Ask any rider, cyclist, or walker their biggest safety concern and they’ll probably tell you: “Car drivers. They don’t see us. They don’t look.”

The fact is, we’re not easy to see. We’re smaller, easily hidden behind other vehicles and roadside features. And because of our smaller size, it’s harder to judge our speed and distance. The odds of getting noticed are stacked against us.

What do motorcyclists do to in response? They take steps to be conspicuous. “Conspicuity” is the ability to draw attention to yourself, even when others are not actively looking for you.

  • Wear a fluorescent, retro-reflective garment on your upper body. The fluorescent dyes radiate light during the day, and the reflectives help you stand out after dark.
  • Choose a white, high-viz yellow, orange, or silver helmet instead of one that’s black or gray. Your head is the highest and most visible point on your body – make it bright and people will see you more easily.
  • Position yourself on the road so you can be seen. Avoid blind spots, and remember, if you can’t see a driver’s face, they can’t see you. Expect other vehicles to turn in front of you at intersections, and be prepared with an escape route.
  • Use hand signals. Not only do they communicate your intentions, they also communicate your presence. Smart motorcyclists us hand signals in addition to electric turn signals for this very reason. A driver might not even notice you until they see your arm stick out. Broad, assertive signals draw attention and also send the message that you’re familiar with the rules of the road.

Following these tips is no guarantee that other drivers will see you.  But it will reduce the number of surprises you face every day on the road.  Ride safely this summer!

– By Pat Hahn, Communications and Outreach Manager, TEAM OREGON Motorcycle Safety Program