The Winter of 2013-2014 has been cold and snowy in the DC Metro Area. As a result, visibility has been reduced due to shortened days (less actual daylight) and due to rain & snow. That is obvious. And of course, drivers should know they can not speed around bicyclists at the same speed as “normal” – which is probably already too fast – during the season when the roads are wetter and more slippery.
But I also want to draw attention to another small point about winter-specific safety for all road users, but one which could really adverse affect the safety of cyclists in traffic. I am referring to dirty windshields that inherently reduce visibility of the world outside the vehicle.
(Image, “Dirty Windshield Reflection,” Copyright Grant Montgomery at Flickr <accessed 15 Feb 2014>)
I know everyone who reads this will understand exactly what I’m talking about. We have all been there when we realize that we can’t see traffic well, the light change up ahead or the like. Of course, unfortunately, the habit is to continue even though we are in fact blind to our surroundings. But imagine, there is a cyclist there on his or her bicycle riding in traffic that does not get noticed and the driver rams into that person. “I couldn’t see” is not a good excuse because we knew it and continues nonetheless. The truth is that even as a consistent bicycle commuter (year round), I have noted to myself that my visibility through bicycle glasses is greatly reduced when they get fogged up. The effect is the same. And this is even with clear lenses or those amber lenses which greatly magnify light in overcast and wet circumstances.
I just ask that we each try to pay attention to this and act accordingly for the safety of everyone.
Thank you for reading.