Bicyclists need to make themselves visible

April 14, 2011

It is such a tragedy to read of the horrible traffic accident which has resulted in lifelong misery for so many people ("Driver ticketed in collision with bicyclist," April 13). A young bicyclist lies in a coma, his family and friends devastated. An upstanding senior citizen and her family will suffer for her remaining lifetime because of one horrible moment in an otherwise ordinary day. It is sad for all of us to contemplate.

I do not know all of the details of this event, but I notice that one aspect of our ongoing bicycle debate has not been touched on: A bicycle rider is often very hard to see.

I live in the area of Johns Hopkins University and nearly every day I see kids riding with no bright clothing to make them more visible. I see riders at dusk or after dark, dressed in earth tones and having not even a reflector on the back of their bicycle — not to mention a light on the front. Travelling in the city after dark, I've seen people dressed in black — in the rain — riding with a dark backpack. In one instance, I saw a large musical instrument case on a cyclist's back — with no reflector.

Even on a bright day, if we are driving along a tree-lined street, the shadows of the foliage slide up across our windshield and leave us with a dappled view of the curb side. If a bicyclist is riding there and is not wearing some bright color, he blends in with moving variations of light and we may be startled when he suddenly pops into our view.

I wish for common sense and for self-preservation that people riding bikes would wear some sort of lightweight, bright reflective vest over their shirts or jackets, and give us all a chance to give them the respect they seek.

Alice Rohart, Baltimore

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