As the days continue to grow shorter, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians may all find themselves navigating the roadway in the dark, making visibility imperative for everyone’s safety.
The times before sunrise and after sunset, as well as at dawn and dusk, are all times when visibility may be impaired — especially in difficult weather conditions like fog or rain.
“It’s important to put on reflective material or a vest if you’re biking or running. Visibility can be bad on the roads,” said Huntingdon Borough Police Department Chief Jeff Buckley. “For bikes, lights and reflectors on the bike and some kind of reflective material on the riders is a good idea.”
Lights are a vital part of ensuring motorists can easily see a bicyclist.
“I personally even ride with the rear light on in the daytime just because it adds a little extra layer of visibility. A lot of the rear lights are bright enough you can see them clearly during the day,” said Kaleb McMullen of Huntingdon.
Rothrock Outfitters in Huntingdon stocks a variety of lighting and reflective options.
“We have battery-powered and rechargeable lights,” said Tony Seguin, owner of Rothrock Outfitters. “If you want to be seen, we recommend a red light in the rear and a white light up front. They have different options as to flashing or steady, with multiple settings in between.”
McMullen said he even uses his lights during the daylight hours as a measure of added visibility and wears highly-visible clothing as well.
“I tend to dress as brightly as possible, with a bright orange helmet and a safety yellow jacket while on the road,” he said. “I try to wear pants with reflective panels so that when the lights hit it, it adds another layer of visibility.”
Runners are also aware of the need to be seen for safety.
“You need to be visible, but also be aware of your surroundings and be able to be alert for vehicles,” said Tim Launtz of Huntingdon, who is an avid runner. “I think the key as a runner or biker is that you can’t go by the presumption that motorists are going to stop. You have to be aware and realize they might not stop, especially at intersections.”
Buckley stressed the need to cross at crosswalks as well.
“Crosswalks are typically lit a bit better and motorists are expecting to stop there more so than the middle of the block,” he said.
Even with natural light lingering, dusk and dawn are particularly problematic for visibility as the angle of the sun may make it difficult to see and be seen.
“I think the biggest thing that motorists need to be aware of is that even thought it’s getting cooler, people prefer to ride this time of year. It’s cooler and nicer,” McMullen said. “Motorists should give cyclists four feet of space and cyclists should make themselves as visible as possible. That should help.”