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What reflectors do
When reflectors do and don't work
Reflector performance
Reflectors to avoid
Summing up: what to use
About laws, regulations and standards
A gallery of unusual reflector photos

You need lights too!

Most  nighttime bicycling in the USA takes place under streetlights, so people can see you. A car's headlights will shine on your reflectors, so the driver will see you, right?

Don't count on it! To be seen, you need a headlight. The law in every state requires bicyclists to use one. Some states also require a taillight.

When a car is about to cross in front of you, its headlights do not shine on your reflectors. Pedestrians don't have headlights at all -- neither do some bicyclists.

Even under streetlights, low-level glare from signs and car headlamps can hide you if you don't have your own headlight.

The rear reflectors installed on new bicycles aren't very bright. Under some conditions, a taillight is more effective than any rear reflector.

The following pages explain how reflectors work, how to select them and how to use them effectively. But you need lights too.

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Contents 2001, John S. Allen
Last revised December 7, 2014