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Walking Safety Night Visibility

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Updated August 28, 2012

Be reflective for night walking

Be reflective for night walking

Wendy Bumgardner ©
There is danger in the dark - the biggest being vehicles that don't expect you or can't see you. Drivers cannot easily see you through fogged windows and poor weather, and their night vision dims as they age. Wearing a dark jacket and dark pants, you are as invisible as a ninja during your early morning or evening walks in the winter darkness. And what driver thinks anybody insane enough to walk in winter? We need to walk defensively and take pains to be visible.

Reflections on reflectivity: Wearing reflective clothing is a good defense against invisibility, but you need to be sure that the reflective areas are large enough and and are exposed from every angle. Do oncoming cars see you, but not those at side streets? Will that little reflective logo on your shirt be enough - especially if you hide it under a jacket?

Reflective Shoes: Most running shoes now have reflective stripes and many tout their "360 degree reflective" features. A pair of Asics I have even appear to have reflective soles! If your walking shoes don't have such features, consider a pair of reflective shoelaces or put some reflective tape on your shoes.

Reflective Clothing: Your best for finding reflective clothing is in a running store or a bicycling shop, or the running and bicycling sections of large sporting goods stores.

Reflective Outerwear: In winter, wearing an extra vest or a reflective jacket can also help keep you warm. Look for IllumiNite jackets, fleece vests, windbreakers. and shirts.

Reflective Vests, Wristbands and Hats: In preparation for the Portland-to-Coast Relay Walk, I bought reflective velcro wristbands to wear on wrists and ankles, a reflective sweatband and a reflective cycling hat. Walking narrow country roads at night and being passed by 2000 vans of competitors, I didn't want anybody to miss me, or rather I wanted them to see me and then miss me! This was in addition to a highly reflective vest and a lighted/reflective sash!
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Tape it Up: The fastest way to become reflective is to buy reflective tape and apply it to your favorite walking garments.

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