Updated: Conspicuity: Being Safe and Seen Out on the Road

Sometimes as cyclists, we conveniently push the thought of just how dangerous road cycling really is out of our heads on a regular basis. If we were to truly fathom the inherent danger it would probably force us all to cower inside only to become couch jockeys with a tub of Cheetos and gallon of Coke. Fortunately though, we’re able to look past the worst case scenarios and get out and enjoy the ride.

The danger though, is frighteningly real.

The remains of the wheel above belong to a friend of mine, who was recently rear ended by an inattentive driver doing an estimated 70 MPH! Unfortunately, Todd was doing everything right by wearing a U.S. Army issued reflective vest, he had reflective ankle bands and had two flashing taillights on his bike, and still got hit (Todd is mostly ok FYI, he has a sore back and some other issues, but incredibly lucky to be alive). Incredibly, even though the police noted that the crash was due to driver inattention, they still did not cite the driver (just another example of cyclist’s safety and lives meaning nothing to law enforcement). The point of the story isn’t to scare you, but to point out that the only people looking out for cyclists are ourselves.

While it may not guarantee your safety, taking the effort to make yourself as conspicuous as possible certainly can’t hurt. To help with that a friend of Volagi, Jack Holmgren, created a  PowerPoint on conspicuity. Check it out, deck yourself out with lights, reflectors, and other bits and be safe out there. There will probably always be idiot drivers in Todd’s case that we can’t do anything about, but for the majority of motorists following these steps should keep you safe. And alive.


As this is an issue we all face as cyclists, people have reached out and offered improved versions of the original PowerPoint presentation. Both Rod Smith of KLA-Tencor and theNapa Bike have produced versions of the original PowerPoint with more pictures and a slightly more streamlined appearance. Feel free to use either presentation to help get the word out, who knows, you might just save someone’s life! (Give the Napa Bike presentation a bit of time to load, it’s a big file)

Also make sure to check out the Napa County Bike Coalition for more info on the great work they are doing to promote safe cycling in Napa County!



3 thoughts on “Updated: Conspicuity: Being Safe and Seen Out on the Road

  1. As a mountain biker who rides on the road for additional fitness (hence my love of good disc brakes on both!!), I relate to the risk that the road presents to us as road users. I feel much safer riding offroad rutted, rooted, and rock armoured trails than on the black stuff.

    In Australia there is a minority who argue against our mandatory helmet laws even, who suggest that the helmet laws discourage participation in cycling, and that the resulting sedentary lifestyle is a bigger risk to the health of our community than the risk of head injuries from non-helmet wearing. You have to give yourself a fighting chance to avoid harm on the road, and following Jacks presentation provides this chance.

    Stay safe, and come home in one piece…

  2. Pingback: LAPD rules no-contact in closing Pinkyracer investigation; manslaughter charges against SF cyclist « BikingInLA

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