This was going to be a simple review on using iron-on reflective tape to enhance your visibility while riding. But with recent news of many cars hitting cyclists, I have decided to do my part to try and keep cyclists safer on the road.
I am young. When I first started riding I never even wore a helmet. I first thought they didn’t look “cool”. (I had one, I just didn’t wear it until I moved to Oregon). This article is NOT about whether you should wear a helmet or not. That all depends on how you are riding and where, and it’s up to you. I will say I now think helmets look cool, and is a great place to put reflective tape or even small lights. I wear mine, and now feel weird if I walk out of the house without having it on, even when I know I’m not riding my bike.
I’ve come a long way since my early years of riding, and have now started using most all safety items. Even thought I never thought I would.
In order of when I started using them:
- Front blinking light
- Any number of blinking rear light depending on where and how long I am gone.
- 200 lumen front light
- Any number of blinking rear lights depending on where and how long I am gone.
- In wheel orange lights
- Reflective tape on helmet, bike, and anything else. More Here
- ANSI Class 2 Reflective Vest (something I never thought I would do)
- 115db Air-horn
- Bicycle Bell (yes, I got a bell after the horn)
- Iron on reflective tape for jackets
All these things help you be seen and hopefully keep you out of danger by other cyclists, pedestrians, and car drivers. This was really just going to be about adding some reflection to your person right now. There are a number of ways to help you be seen while riding.
Photos and more about staying visible and safe after the page break.
You can always go the extreme way by getting a nice reflective vest. Reflective vests can be cumbersome to use all the time so I don’t wear mine year around. Mainly just during the cold/gloomy winter weather, and at night. It can be hard to find one that fits, since they are normally meant to be able to be worn over multiple layers but if you find one that fits that’s great. It took me some time to find mine. I have made mine look more stylish by adding some patches to my jacket. It’s a great way to personalize it, it reminds me of “punks” putting patches/studs/buttons on leather jackets. Just remember not to cover the jacket in important spots, the point is to be seen.
Some people won’t like vests. A good alternative is to wear a good, visible, non-dark jacket. Outdoor specific jackets normal come in brighter color, might have reflective accents, and sometime water repellent. (an added benefit) My main jacket is a second hand jogging specific jacket. It has little reflective details already on the jacket. It’s great, light and I can easily layer underneath of it. I recently added my own iron-on detail to make it more visible at night. Adding 2 – 1/4in wide strips down each sleeve, I didn’t want to overkill this jacket it with reflective details (since I wear this jacket off the bike). This helps with side and rear visibility, and when using a turn signal.
I got my iron-on reflective tape from a fabric store for around $4 for 1inx60in, then cut them lengthwise to make the 1/4in strips. The cutting took some time, but it makes it look like the jacket came like that. It irons on pretty easily, just follow the specific directions. You can add iron-on reflective tape to most any cloth. I have even added it the fabric sides of my cargo trailer.
There will hopefully be more companies coming out with new hip and fashionable ways to be reflective. Portland based company Fun Reflectors are producing fun shaped sticker and iron-on reflectors. There is a $350 Jacket from Nike. The entire thing is reflective, which I think is awesome, but it’s so expensive, making it not practical for most people (myself included).
Please just remember to be safe out there when riding.
If you are interested in making your bicycle reflective you can read this Bike Forums Post : Making your bike glow down the road…