Ride at night? Get a light! 'It's all cheaper than a casket and a hospital visit'
EUGENE, Ore. - Jason Oakley works at Hutch's Bicycle Shop in Downtown Eugene.
He said his daily commute is not always a smooth ride.
"I've been clipped in a parking lot, I hit a UPS truck once," Oakley said.
That's why, when it gets dark, Oakley's bike lights up.
Daylight saving time ends Sunday at 2 a.m. as we fall back an hour to standard time.
That means bicyclists like Oakley are getting ready to commute in the dark for the winter months.
He wears a bight neon reflective vest, a headlight, a rear red reflective light and lights on the sides of his bike.
He also has a reflective helmet.
"You have to really watch out for yourself," Oakley said. "They're not watching out for you."
Even with all the right gear, Oakley recommends choosing safe routes, obeying traffic laws - and assuming that cars do not see you.
"A lot of people assume that cars are aware of them," Oakley said, "and sometimes they're not."
Having the right reflective gear on your bike is not only a good idea, it is the law.
In Oregon, cyclists must use lights during "limited visibility conditions."
They must have a front white light that is visible 500 feet away and a rear red reflector or light that is visible 600 feet away.
Not meeting these requirements could cost you a Class D traffic citation - or your life.
Data gathered by Vision Zero, a city-wide action plan in Eugene to eliminate traffic deaths or serious injuries by 2035, found that nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes in Eugene involve bikers and pedestrians.
According to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, only 3 percent of all bike rides happen at night - but over half of all cyclists killed are hit while riding at night without lights.
"You want to be seen, you want to protect yourself," said Lee Shoemaker, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Eugene.
Shoemaker recommends not only using flashing lights, but wearing reflective tape, bright clothes - even reflective shoelaces.
"It's all cheaper than a casket and a hospital visit," Oakley said.
Safety gear is available at local bike shops.