The 10 Best Bike Mirrors
Checking the Blind Spot: Bike Mirrors
Most bike mirrors use tension-controlled circular attachment hardware that can be affixed to the handle bars of almost any bicycle.
A bicycle mirror can let you keep your eyes on the goal line while also keeping tabs on the competition.
Riding a bicycle is one of the finest activities in which a person can engage. It is carbon-neutral and good for the environment, it provides both cardiovascular and skeletal muscle exercise, and it is enjoyable, too. And in cities plagued with heavy traffic, poor mass transit systems, or both, riding a bike can even be the most efficient way to commute about town. Riding a bike does mean subjecting oneself to a degree of risk, however: all it takes is one distracted driver, one unseen pothole, or one pedestrian heedlessly stepping into a bike lane to result in an accident.
The wise, experienced cyclist takes precautions to minimize the risks he or she faces every time they mount their bike. This includes wearing safety gear, paying attention to proper bicycle tuning and maintenance, and often it involves adding a few aftermarket accessories to a bike.
One of the best ways to stay safe on your bike is to increase your situational awareness ability by affixing a bike mirror to your cycle.
A bike mirror allows you to check the area immediately behind and to the side of your bike in a split second, helping you make safe lane changes and turns and keeping you aware of any potential threats encroaching on your space. While of course simply turning your head can also help to check behind you, doing so can take your attention off the road ahead just at the moment a danger rears before you. With a bike mirror, you can keep your eyes forward while inspecting the areas behind and to the side. Maintaining awareness of the roadway or path ahead is critical, especially when you are biking in a congested urban area or you are on an uneven path fraught with obstacles, such as those the mountain biker encounters.
Competitive racers too can benefit from a bike mirror; every split second counts in a serious bicycle race, and often the loss of rhythm caused by a backward glance can mean the difference between a victory and a second-place finish. A bicycle mirror can let you keep your eyes on the goal line while also keeping tabs on the competition.
Most bike mirrors use tension-controlled circular attachment hardware that can be affixed to the handle bars of almost any bicycle. Some can be slipped on the ends of straight handlebars, but might not work with the curved grips of a racing bike. When choosing a bike mirror, balance the benefits you'll get from a larger mirror -- e.g. a broader view -- against the added drag and larger profile a mirror can create.
Other Important Bike Safety Accessories
If there is one item every responsible cyclist must use, it is of course a helmet. Riding without a helmet is never a good idea under any circumstances, no matter how short your ride may be, no matter where you will be biking, and no matter how confident you are of your abilities. Never ride without a helmet; it's that simple.
Horns and/or bells enhance rider and passerby safety during the daylight hours when a light is rendered useless by sunshine.
Beyond the helmet, the next most important type of gear a bicyclist should use it is adequate lighting. After dark, a biker is much more likely to be injured in an accident, as an improperly illuminated bike is simply hard to see, especially when lost among the headlights of busy city traffic. Reflectors are a good start, but actual bike lights are essential for safe riding at night or in rainy, foggy, or otherwise inclement conditions.
At the bare minimum, your bike should have a bright red light affixed to its back -- ideally with an option to flash rapidly -- and a white headlight-style lamp on the front that both helps you to see and makes you plainly visible to approaching motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. Also consider using a headlamp, which will help to illuminate your path and which makes you that much more visible to others thanks to its elevated position. Illuminated vests are also a savvy choice for the cautious cyclist.
A bicycle horn or bell is also a good idea for the frequent cyclist; these devices can alert others to your presence and are especially useful as you approach pedestrians or bikers from behind. Horns and/or bells enhance rider and passerby safety during the daylight hours when a light is rendered useless by sunshine.
Finally, don't overlook the importance of your own clothing when you are riding a bike. Dedicated cyclists don't wear tight, form-fitting clothing because they think it is stylish, but rather because it minimizes wind resistance and makes your ride more efficient; it reduces the risk of a garment being snagged on gears, pedals, or other hardware; and it helps protect you against cuts and scratches should you fall off your bike during an accident.
Why Bike Safety Is Serious Stuff: Annual Accident Statistics
In the year 2015, nearly 820 bicyclists were killed in accidents that occurred on American roadways. The year before that saw approximately 725 such deaths. There is a slow trend developing that, while sobering, is not surprising: more people are riding their bikes, and as a result, more cyclists are being injured or killed each year.
The largest portion bike accidents occur in the hours between six and nine PM, pointing to the busy evening commute being an especially unsafe time for riding one's bike.
While fewer than 1,000 annual bicyclist deaths may seem low given the growing prevalence of bikers on American roadways, that figure is offset by another statistic: in 2015, some 45,000 bikers were injured in traffic, and many of them in catastrophic ways.
The largest portion bike accidents occur in the hours between six and nine PM, pointing to the busy evening commute being an especially unsafe time for riding one's bike. About a quarter of those involved in deadly bike accidents had been consuming alcohol before commencing their ride.
One interesting point to note is that nearly 90% of bicycle fatalities in a given year are males. More men ride bikes than women, but the staggering gender disparity in accidents also points to male riders taking a more cavalier and risky approach to their bike riding habits.
When conducted with common sense, proper safety gear, and a cautious mindset, riding one's bike is largely safe and indeed is an eco-friendly and healthy undertaking. The sensible rider simply goes forth with the knowledge of what areas, times, and practices are the least safe, and adjusts his or her behavior accordingly.