Avoiding Bike Accidents in the San Francisco Bay Area: Should You Use a Mirror?
All of us who ride know that defensive bike riding is our key means to avoid an accident. Recently I ran across an interesting column on bike safety discussing use the use of mirrors on bikes, or on cyclists’ helmets. The author became a convert after adding a mirror, despite continuing to feel geeky about having one. He found that the helmet mirror was better, because it can move to look around a broader area than one mounted on a handlebar.
Few Cyclists Use Mirrors
It makes sense that if cars motorcycles need mirrors, we cyclists could benefit from them as well. Of course, California law requires motor vehicles to have mirrors, and both cars and motorcycles pose an enormously larger threat of harming others than those of us on bikes. Thus, a bike mirror law would be more akin to a helmet law, Vehicle Code §21201, which requires cyclists to use a light when it’s dark: designed to protect the rider, rather than others. Also, there is a sense of freedom and simplicity in biking that I think is impaired by adding lots of required extra equipment.
From what I see, few cyclists use mirrors now. Looking on the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s website, I saw little about mirrors, but I did find a 2001 letter to the editor they received from another rider who swears by his mirror.
Could Mirror Helmuts Become Standard Safety Equipment for Bike Riders?
We have seen helmet use skyrocket in the U.S. in a relatively short time, and I have written previously on bike helmet laws, which some communities have adopted. It will be interesting to see if mirrors can likewise break through from something perceived as geeky or quirky to a typical piece of cycling equipment.
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