Tragic accidents involving pedestrians bring attention to how risky walking and biking at night can be if you are not taking the right precautions.
People can disappear from view when headlights leave the roadway. It??s more of a problem this time of year as the days get shorter, and our habits tend to stay the same. People who plan to exercise after work are still hitting the streets, but they are in the dark.
??If you're going to bike without a light, just stay off the roads. That doesn't mean ride on the sidewalks,?? said Matt Klingelsmith, owner of Grand Traverse Cycle. Klingelsmith said every fall he sees more people coming in looking for lights, asking what kind of reflective clothing they can wear.
??It gets darker a lot quicker,?? said Tim Newton, a firefighter and EMT. ??Especially around five o??clock, there's a lot of people that run after hours or after work. I've noticed it a lot because I do run quite often that people do not wear correct attire out there. They wear the black clothes.
Newton said he wears a reflective vest, a neon hat, yellow shoes, and a headlamp. People wearing the wrong clothes, especially in rain and snow, are at an increased risk for a bad accident.
Riding at night without a light, a biker can see pretty well because street lights and businesses light the area, but that's not the only thing that matters.
??You don't end up being seen by the car. You want to make sure you have a light to be seen, and make sure the lights are bright and catching their attention,?? said Klingelsmith.
Whether you are biking or walking your dog wear reflective gear and invest in a light.
Grand Traverse Cycle demonstrated various lights you can buy to make sure you get noticed on the street. There are lights you can attach to handlebars, bike frames, and helmets. There are USB powered lights you can charge with your computer.
??You can plug it in, leave it in your computer all day at work and pull it out to go home,?? explained Klingelsmith.
Klingelsmith recommends using a light with a sporadic pulse setting. ??A light like this where it's flashing kind of randomly, it really draws your eye to it, makes you look closer and pay more attention to it.??
Take the time to make yourself visible to those you are sharing the road with.
??They have to take it a step further and think of their safety, for themselves. Walk the correct way, follow traffic patterns,?? said Newton.
??When you're riding out in the traffic through town, you want to make sure that person a block down the road notices you,?? said Klingelsmith.
The law requires you to have a white front light and a red rear reflector on your bike, as well as pedal reflectors.
Safety experts recommend you go above and beyond those requirements to ensure your safety.
Bicyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities as drivers on the road and can be ticketed for violating Michigan traffic laws.