BE VISIBLE while riding your bicycle or walking by Michelle Avola-Brown

by Michelle Avola-Brown, Executive Director, Naples Pathways Coalition

With school out and schedules not quite so hectic as it is during the season, a lot of children and adults are out walking, biking, and running during the summer. Being visible is vital to avoiding crashes, injuries, and worse. Here are some practical tips for increasing your visibility while riding your bicycle or walking:

Wear white or fluorescent colors. Choose a neon yellow, bright orange, lime green, or hot pink shirt and socks. Wearing bright colors helps you stand out rather than blend with the landscape. Adding a reflective vest or belt is a great way to stand out. Neon colored socks with reflectors are smart because our eyes notice things that move.

Be sure your bike has a functioning headlight and taillight, and both are visible for several hundred feet. Use your front and rear lights in blinking mode during the day to increase visibility. At night, only your taillight should be blinking and the headlight a constant beam. Make sure your bike has plenty of reflectors too, on the fenders, spokes, pedals, and body. If you walk between dusk and sunrise, carry a flashlight and consider strapping on a few blinking lights to your wrists or ankles.

If there is a bike lane, use it but beware of debris that could cause a crash or flat. Avoid riding near the gutter where drainage grates can lock up your tire.

If there is no bike lane, ride in a prominent spot in the lane. Avoid riding next to the curb. That sets you up for a sideswipe by a car that gets too close and the dangers noted above. When you ride closer to the center of the lane, cars will need to change lanes to pass as they would any other vehicle, and that is additional protection for you. Bicycles are legally allowed to ride in the vehicle lane when a bike lane is not present.

Adhere to traffic laws. Bicycles on the road are considered vehicles and must stop at stop signs and red lights. Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the intersection in front of them. Without eye contact, assume they do not see you.

When changing lanes, merging, or turning, always signal your intentions. Use your left hand to point when going left and use your right hand to point when you are going right. Ride predictably so drivers will understand where you want to go. Don’t cut in and out of traffic, cross midblock, move lanes quickly, or ride between cars.

Walk against traffic, don’t cross midblock, and be alert for people driving or biking toward you.

Whether you’re driving, walking, or biking, put away your phone and other distractions. Eyes up at all times. Don’t ride too close to parked cars. When passing by parked cars, listen for locks opening, watch for doors opening, and watch for traffic. You could get “doored” by someone entering or exiting a vehicle who doesn’t see you.

If you stop on the right side of a vehicle, you may be in their blind spot. Vehicles turning right may not see you and turn right into or in front of you. A rearview mirror on your bike or helmet will help you see cars approaching behind you. (A less than $20 investment could save your life!)

To make sure you are as safe as possible, always ride and walk with the assumption that drivers don’t notice you. Too many drivers are looking at their phones instead of watching the road for people and hazards. Stay alert and be prepared to ride or walk defensively.

Always wear a helmet, make sure it is fit properly (no more than two fingers between the eyebrows and the front of your helmet, no more than two fingers should fit between the strap and your neck, the side strap should make a “V” just below your earlobe, and not move around if you shake your head. Get a helmet that’s neon colored, or maybe even one of those mohawk helmets to be super eye catching!

One last important reminder: never ride with earbuds or headphones. It is illegal, but it is also very unsafe. While walking, only one earbud at low volume in your left ear (away from traffic) so you can listen for hazards. The only one looking out for you is you. You need all of your senses to do that effectively.

For more information on pedestrian and bicycle safety, please visit
If you have any specific questions, email me at

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