March 7, 2015

When RUSA speaks, riders listen . . . update on reflectivity for 2015

Do I need reflective gear while I'm riding?

Lately, the answer is a definitive & resounding "yes."  Yes, even in daylight, you'll often see me donning the reflective vest, or at least something in a hi-viz color.  Think about it... even in the middle of a summer's day, if you pass a road construction site - what do you see?  Bright neon colors, reflective ANSI-approved striping, flags and cones, etc.  All high-visibility, not just at night.  This is designed to protect the workers and prevent accidents. 

 We live in an age of transition, technologically speaking.  The devices many of us have begun to take for granted are truly modern-age wonders.  I mean, for someone like me who remembers the day the janitor (before anyone knew what "AV tech" meant) wheeled in the first Apple 2C computer, and to think of it compared to any modern wireless device or the popular Raspberry Pi computers... good lord, it's simply staggering what these things that fit into our pockets can do.  They are, to put it lightly, quite distracting as a result.  

Why do I say "transition"?  Well, while these devices are amazing, the things they do for us and specifically how we interface with them hasn't kept pace with the technology itself.  Voice control, truly hands-free usability, and eyes-off hands-off intuitiveness hasn't reached mainstream yet.  I know... we have Siri (ick) and Google's comparatively remarkable voice controls... but, few have had the patience to set them up in a fashion where you - literally - don't have to look-at or touch the device itself while walking or driving.  None of the solutions I've played with haven't generated at least a little bit of genuine user-frustration, ultimately requiring me to physically intervene, and most casual user will simply not bother.  They will text, surf, and talk while driving - it's what people do, but it needs to stop - right now.  

This is where the problems begin.  We all know about "distracted driving," and locally, we all know at least one life which has been negatively affected (to put it lightly) by this current problem.  The more we do to protect ourselves as cyclists -- regardless of whether or not we should have to -- the safer and better off we will be during our rides.  

Simply put - yeah, it sucks.  Yeah, it's too warm.  Yeah, we will look silly.  Personally, I'm beyond all that.  We need to just wear the freaking vest and ankle bands, and slap the yellow triangle on the seat bag.  Any arguments against this sort of personal policy just fall flat.  Don't come at me with statistics, or scoffing, how reflective stuff  isn't a force-field, or how it just won't matter in the moment.  I have a family to get home to - I'm wearing the dang vest.  I hope you choose to, as well. 

The following is copied the KCUC webpage, which I also manage, so you may have already read it.  Things have indeed changed recently, so if you're not yet familiar with RUSA's new reflectivity guidelines (effective 2015) please read this
To aid in planning you next big ride, knowing Civil Twilight times can serve as a good guideline for what to bring when you're not sure what conditions might be like when you start or finish a ride; check it out here.  Personally, I think preparation for rides longer than 100km should involve simply packing the reflective gear, whether you think you'll need it or not.  One never knows - delayed by a mechanical issue, whatever.  Have the stuff packed, and don't worry.  This stuff doesn't take up that much space - certainly not enough to generate excuses on why you can't bring it along.  
Finally, remember; civil twilight or "30-minutes before sunset and after sunrise" is ONLY a guideline:  RUSA's rules override all other considerations, and when that doesn't apply, default to the good ole Thomas Paine solution:  Common Sense.  Think "safety first" whenever there is any question:  Is it foggy?  Is it especially overcast?  Is the sun in front of me?  Will it rain?  Can they see me?  Can I see them?

Be safe, ride smart & be prepared!

Let's have a great, un-eventful, 2015 riding season, eh?  
See you out there!

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