How to Chicago: If you Bike, Wear White

Drawing by Wilson


25. Survive. Back in my sports radio listening days the renowned commentator Tony Kornheiser used to sign his show off with “If your’e out on your bike tonight, do wear white”.  Initially it struck me as a peculiar way to end a sports show. As time passed however, I began to really appreciate what I thought was a solid and unique public service announcement. Later I heard that it was more a tribute to the Rolling Stones tune “Something Happened To Me Yesterday”.

Blah, blah blah…..who cares. I’ve been observing bike riders during dusk, early and full evening for years now. I must continue to pass the advice on. If you are out on your bike tonight, do wear white. It makes a shocking difference in your visibility to drivers. Bike reflectors do not get the job done. It’s stunning how often I see people young and not young zipping around the neighborhood in black T-shirts and dark shorts. They appear from nowhere. Drivers cannot see you until they are figuratively on top of you. An easy way to keep that statement from going literal would be to throw on a white T-shirt before you head out on your high wheel. Give yourself a fighting chance.

Dedicated to Philando.

Fear is not an excuse for murder. 

15 thoughts on “How to Chicago: If you Bike, Wear White

  1. Solid advice – and I’m glad you’ve taken the time to pass it on in such a convincing and also heartfelt way. Other commenters have given additional tips, like putting LEDs on wheels. This is probably a good idea as well, but a bright red backlight and a headlamp as well will really help anyone out who’s biking around town at night. Wearing white helps you stand out even more, especially during evening and twilight hours when lights wont help you so much.

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  2. How to drive in Chicago? The post title caught my attention.. I’ve been there a number of times and the traffic seemed fine… but I get your point.

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  3. I live on a college campus and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen biking to/from the library in black. It’s ridiculous. (On the flip side, the people that put colored LEDs on their wheels really stand out!)

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  4. I’ve never thought about that but it’s such a good advice, wearing dark clothes, whether you’re walking or biking, can be really dangerous. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I remember there being a lot about bike safety at school when I was growing up, cut to being an adult and I think a lot of us have the ‘I know best’ attitude which culminates in us forgetting the basic safety principles we were taught. Thanks for sharing this, no one is ever too old for a reminder to protect themselves.

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  6. I’ve always been told reflectors are the way to go, but when I’m driving at night it’s really easy to see how your lights can miss them and might result in an accident. Regardless, I appreciated seeing that this was a tribute to Philando. Hearing news about the verdict was terrible, and I’m glad to see someone speak on it. Interesting post, thank you for sharing!

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  7. I totally agree. So many cyclists here in Dublin have no lights on their bikes whatsoever and wear black. Wearing white really would help that tiny bit more in keeping visible. I wish all cyclists would wear helmets too.

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  8. Simple, yet effective. And common sense when you think about it. It’s a good message to get out there to cyclists and contributes to lowering the death toll on the roads.

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