Mirror, Mirror

20 Nov

P1050256aI would guess that most of you wouldn’t consider riding without a helmet strapped to your head. You probably see it as a necessary piece of equipment to keep you safe when you’re out riding.

I happen to agree with you.

I wonder though if most of you helmet-loving-riders will agree with this:

A mirror, whether attached to your helmet, glasses or bike is just as important to your safety as your helmet.

It has been proven to me on many occasions, but two near misses really drove it home. Two occasions where drivers weren’t paying attention, and knowing that I was able to take action to get out of their way. I knew it because of my mirror.

When it comes to us and cars, we only need to remember one rule: cars always win. Consequently I do everything I can when I’m on my bike riding alongside those metal behemoths to best insure my safety. For me that now includes using a mirror.

The mirror I use is the Hubbub helmet mirror. I love that the mirror mounts to my helmet and not my sunglasses and that the viewing area is large. Previously I used the Bike Peddler Take A Look Mirror which attached to my sunglasses. It worked well, but I didn’t like having it mounted to my sunglasses. Both are great mirrors and there are also many other mirrors to choose from. Both my husband and I tried a couple of different mirrors that adhere to the helmet via sticky stuff (technical term) but they never stayed on.

For many years I never used a mirror, but I wouldn’t dream of riding any significant distance without one now. I wasn’t aware there were mirrors appropriate for road bikes when I started riding again back in the early 90’s, only the very large mirrors that mounted to the handlebar. I was way too cool for that, and besides back then we were told cyclists rarely were hit from behind.

That was probably not true then, and it certainly isn’t true now:

According to the League of American Bicyclists more than one in four of crashes involve cyclists getting hit from behind.

A mirror definitely can help protect you. I use my mirror when I’m biking the way I use my mirrors when I’m driving. It has become second nature to look in my mirror for traffic – just like driving. I frequently check my mirror while riding and on those occasions I think a car has not seen me (they haven’t moved over to pass), while it is safe to do so I take even more of the lane to first get their attention and second, to force them to pass safely. 

Through the use of my mirror I’m also able to go with the flow of traffic better. If I can see there is a car coming up behind me I’ll slow slightly so they can go past. It is not just their preference to not be behind me, it’s mine too!

The bottom line is that cycling is more enjoyable and relaxing with a mirror and in my opinion at least – safer. If you’re not convinced, get a mirror and use it for a month or two then take it off and see how less aware you are of your surroundings and how less safe you feel. That’s what happened for me, I first used a mirror on a bike tour where the company provided them. After a week of using it I came to rely on and appreciate it – and bought a mirror when I got home.

If you don’t ride with a mirror, try one. What have you got to lose?

2 Responses to “Mirror, Mirror”

  1. Kim November 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    I totally agree about the mirror. I didn’t know what I was missing until I got one. Hey, I watched an interesting doc on CNN about Lance. You’ve followed the case pretty closely so probably no new info. to you, but I found it interesting. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Susan November 25, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

      Kim, Haven’t seen that doc on LA, but will check it out. Thanks for the feedback about using a mirror, I hope to see more people using them in the not too distant future. It’s the single best thing that any cyclist can do to improve their safety on the road.

      We had a wonderful Thanksgiving including overindulging in all the wonderful food. Three hour bike ride today to pedal some of those calories off!

      Stay safe.

      Susan

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