Safety in 10 Seconds

I had an idea on Friday morning as I watched a bike rider navigate the snow on 7th Street, downtown Holland. I’ve been seeing more and adult bike riders around town over the past couple of years who appear to be using their bikes as their primary mode of transportation. This guy was one of those types of functional riders (I know I risk stereotyping with that statement, but I don’t mean it in a derogatory way). It was still snowing and very grey making visibility poor. As with most riders that appear to be riding instead of driving, this man was not wearing a helmet. Probably less obvious was that he didn’t have any lights on his bike, either.
Now, I’m comfortable with biking on the street for the most part as a safe and legal place to ride. But, I do believe that I need to take every effort necessary to make sure drivers can see me and to ride in the safest place available. After all, I’m a driver more than I am a rider, and I know how certain conditions can make it difficult to see bikers on the road. On Friday, the mixture of cloud cover, snow falling, and snow on the ground created a flat light scenario. So even though it was daytime, it was rather difficult to see out. This guy would have definitely been safer with a rear facing red blinking light to catch driver’s attention. I’m not sure if ‘mode of transportation riders’ opt out of lights because they don’t think about riding with them or if the additional cost is prohibitive, but it is an extremely important piece of equipment for anyone who rides frequently and in poor light.
So, my idea is that I’m going to keep an extra Knog Frog tail light in my pocket from now on so that if I see one of these riders I can stop them, give the light to them, and quickly make them a safer rider. The Knog Frog tail light is a small $15 light that’s about the size of a watch, runs on a watch battery, and is quickly installed by pulling the rubber pull strap around your seat post and latching it on to its own hook. Its not going to fix all of their safety issues, but I can’t very well carry around helmets (besides, they’re a lot more expensive).
I’m looking forward to how that interaction will go the first time I try to stop someone to give them a light. My thought is to explain that I just want people to be safe on the roads and that the light is a gift. I hope it goes well and that the person doesn’t take it the wrong way.

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