mechBgon's info page on cycling visibility
  1. Start

  2. Active lighting

  3. Passive lighting

  4. Comparing active & passive visibility in darkness

  5. What about daytime visibility?

  6. Visibility doesn't guarantee safety

First things first...

  • What's the difference between Active and Passive lighting, and why is it important?

    • Passive visibility equipment, such as reflectors and brightly-colored clothing, can only reflect light that came from elsewhere, and are often not visible in real-world cycling situations, leaving the cyclist vulnerable.

    • Active lights, such as headlights and taillights, create their own light using light bulbs or Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs), so they can be visible in situations where passive visibility equipment cannot be seen.

    By understanding the capabilities and limitations of the two categories, you can make informed decisions about what visibility equipment you want to use.

    Both items above are passive reflectors, but the one on the left has an active light too.

  • Know your legal obligations Find out what visibility equipment your bike is required to have for lawful operation on public roads. Try this Google search for "bicycle laws" and add the name of your country, state or province to the search box.

  • Reality check! Have a friend ride your bike, wearing your riding gear, while you view from a car. Besides viewing the cyclist in front of the car, try having the cyclist approach from the side, where you as the motorist would pull out into the cyclist's path if you didn't notice the cyclist.

  • I see something here that interests me. How do I find a place to buy it? Your local bike shops may be able to get it for you. If not, try searching Google for an online store, or ask for help at

Hey... why doesn't this site have a billion advertising banners? You mean, like the irritating flashing ones that claim you've WON A FREE LAPTOP* and stuff? I hate those! :P

RossMAN from the AnandTech Forums generously donates the Web hosting that brings you this guide, so I am putting in a plug for his site, If you've got a CC, maybe RossMAN has found one that can beat it. Check it out, that's all I ask. : )

DISCLAIMER: This site shouldn't be taken as safety advice, or legal advice, or as an authoritative source of information. Use this information at your own risk. I assessed my visibility needs and picked equipment to help me be visible, but I can't do that for someone else. It's your responsibility to assess your own visibility needs and attend to them, and this site is here to make you aware of some of your options.

Next page: Active lighting (equipment that makes its own light)