Daylight saving time ends, puts spotlight on bike safety


Tobie DePauw, manager of North Central Cyclery, displays different types of bike taillights Thursday afternoon inside his shop at 534 Lincoln Highway.

By Shaun Zinck

Jeff Johnson started noticing a dangerous trend with bicyclists around DeKalb: inadequate reflective lights and clothing.

Johnson, who works for North Central Cyclery, 534 E. Lincoln Highway, said it was two weeks ago when he witnessed several close calls with bicycle riders and cars.

“In all the incidents, the rider was wearing dark clothing and their bikes were not equipped with the right reflectors,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he was driving on Lincoln Highway a couple weeks ago when he noticed there was an accident involving a rider and a car. A little while down the road, he said the car in front of him almost hit a rider. It was just a few days ago when Johnson was involved in a near accident with a bicyclist himself.

“I was on Annie Glidden near the NIU Alumni Center sitting at a red light,” Johnson said. “After it turned green, I started to go and out of nowhere a biker cuts across traffic.”

With daylight savings time this weekend, Johnson said he was concerned with more riders being out when it’s dark.

“I’m a biker myself, so I’m use to looking out for riders and I had a close call,” he said. “I can’t imagine what might happen with those drivers that aren’t looking for riders.”

Tobie DePauw, manager of North Central Cyclery, said having proper lights is important for both the rider and any driver on the road. DePauw said there are a wide range of lights for both the front and the back of the bike.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be safe,” DePauw said.

DePauw said NCC has two types of reflective lights: One to see and the other to be seen. DePauw said the type of reflector someone should buy differs on a few factors.

“We would normally ask how often the ride and where they ride,” he said. “If they are riding during dusk or early evening, they wouldn’t need as powerful a light as someone who was riding in pitch black conditions.

The price range also varies on the amount of light the rider wants, DePauw said.

“For tail lights we have, in the ‘Be seen’ section prices ranging from $12 to $40,” he said.

Mike Mutschler, store manager for Blue Moon Bikes, 211 W. State St. in Sycamore, said he has seen some children remove the reflectors off their bikes. He suggested parents make sure their children’s bike have those reflectors when they go for a bike ride.

“We also have a newer item where we have helmets with built in lights,” Mutschler said.

Mutschler also has the same two categories of lights as NCC and said often times retailers will sell front and rear lights in combo packs. Johnson said he recommends a flashing back light because it makes the rider a lot more visible from a further distance.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation website when bicyclists are riding on the road they must obey the same traffic laws as if they were driving a car, including coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. If a biker rides on the sidewalk they must yield to walking pedestrians, have a horn or bell that is loud enough to hear within 100 feet.