EDITORIAL: Invisibility cloaks can stay at home

Cyclists and pedestrians can help themselves stay safe with a little light or reflectivity

Unlike Harry Potter, who relished becoming invisible to other mortals by wearing a certain piece of clothing, visibility is critical for those of us who share the streets with vehicles, especially at this time of year.

Dark clothing is, and probably always will be, in style. That fact makes it even tougher for drivers to spot people crossing streets or riding along the edge of roadways without lights or flashers.

But visibility is a two-way street. Not only do drivers need to be constantly aware of the presence of other types of road users, those cyclists, runners, walkers, scooter users and skateboarders that drivers encounter also need to respect the fact they may not be easily seen.

We hear experts say when you meet up with a bear in the woods, a good idea is to make yourself seem “big.” In the case of road users not in vehicles, being “big” means being visible, enough so that no question arises about your actions or use of the shared space.

For non-drivers who may have an inflated sense of entitlement for their choice to use alternative transportation, including your feet, think about this: you’ll virtually always lose a head-to-head confrontation with a vehicle.

While the rules of the road are meant to be observed by all parties, there is no substitute for pedestrians and drivers making eye contact at a crosswalk, or, if riding your bike on a main thoroughfare, being aware that the light behind you just changed and traffic will soon be upon you.

Those are common safety practices good for any time of the year, but fall and winter are particularly tricky for visibility.

So why not get yourself a reflective vest, flashing reflector buttons or lights, or reflective cuff strips? Your life is worth more than any pain you might suffer from making a temporary bad fashion statement.

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