Seeing red...

By Rob Spedding, editor | Friday, December 7, 2007 1.00pm

I've just had my scariest ride ever.

Here's why: for at least five years I've relied on the same trusty Cateye rear light to let drivers know that I'm - inconsiderately of course - taking up a miniscule amount of road space. For at least five years I've hung it from my rucksack with no trouble at all. So, reasoning that a change is as good as a rest, I foolishly decided that my light would enjoy a change of scenery and I clipped it to my saddle bag. I'd been riding for, ooooh, two minutes when I heard a clatter from behind. Looking round I saw, in around 312 pieces, said trusty light.

As I was on the way home from work I reckoned that pressing on was the best thing to do. So, I continued on with my 15 minute commute - it soon became the worst quarter-of-an-hour of my life. No sooner had the light dropped off and cars, lorries and buses - mainly buses - that had been giving me bags of room were tickling me with their wing mirrors. Despite the fact that I was cycling through a well-lit city centre, I'd become pretty much invisible.

At first I thought it was just because the idiots in the cars weren't paying attention, but as a I drew closer to another cyclist - this one with the standard red flashing light - I realised that that was all I could actually see. The blinking light was massively visible, the cyclist underneath was virtually opaque.

The only option - break two laws - ride without a light on the pavement, I figured a fixed penalty notice was far preferable to a smack on the back of the head with bloody great wing mirror. Or worse.

Anyway, I lived to tell the tale - okay it's not the best story ever - but it brought home to me just how damned important staying visible is on these dark winter nights. Either that or get the bus!

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