Three years ago, my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was named the most dangerous city for bicyclists in the country. Add that to our reputation for meth and car theft, and we came out #winning. Things have since gotten slightly better thanks to more city-funded bike-friendly infrastructure, but you still have to watch yourself when pedaling down the street.
One of the most important precautions I always take is to ride with a front and rear light—day or night—because lights are a proven lifesaver for cyclists. There are many high-quality lights to choose from, but my current go-to is the Beryl Laserlight. It throws out 300 lumens, or enough to fully light up a pitch-dark bike path at night, and also enough to make sure a car can see you under the midday sun. (I run it as a blinky light during the day because that’s a more effective way to get drivers’ attention.)
I really love the light, however, because it uses something called laser projection technology to slap a several-foot-wide green bicycle image on the ground about 20 feet in front of me. This does two important things. First, it makes my footprint that much bigger so cars and pedestrians have a better chance of seeing me as I come toward them. A driver waiting to turn left across the lane I’m traveling in, for example, will see the green laser image a full second or two before he sees me, giving him enough time to step on the brakes. Same with pedestrians. They’ll see the bike image before they see me and hopefully wait until after I’ve rocketed past them to step into the bike path.
Second, the projected bike image helps drivers realize I’m next to them when my bike and my body are in their blind spots. They’ll see the bike image on the street and realize that they can’t turn right, cutting me off and causing a crash.
At $110, the light is not cheap. But in addition to keeping you safe (and can you really put a price on safety?), it’s well built and a good investment. The casing is aircraft-grade aluminum, so if you go rubber-side-up it won’t break when it hits the street. The battery provides a very respectable 13 hours of constant light, and it’s fully waterproof so you won’t kill it during a downpour.