Be safe, be seen

AS the winter months leave days shorter and nights longer, and recently with thick fog, cyclists, walkers and runners often exercise in darker conditions. According to statistics, 75 per cent of pedestrian deaths are recorded at night-time when there is little to no visibility.

Balaklava sisters, Deb Blackwell and Di Mudge, aren’t willing to take any risks when out on their nightly ride, making themselves as visible to vehicle drivers as they possibly can.

“We never leave the house without our high visibility (hi-vis) clothing, we want everyone out on the roads to be able to see us,” Di said.

They also have a front light and rear flashing light on their bikes.

The ladies ride three times a week around Balaklava, and will often see others at night time wearing very little or no reflective safety clothing, making it hard for both drivers and other cyclists or pedestrians to see them.

“When we’re out we’ll see people in their hi-vis gear, but we see a large number of locals who don’t have hi-vis on which is very concerning,” Deb said.

When the pair first decided to start riding at night they opted to spend a little bit extra on safety accessories to ensure they’d be seen by other road users.

“We’ve got all the gear to be seen and keep safe – helmets, gloves, reflectors and most importantly lights,” Di said.

Di and Deb encourage others to be cautious when out on the roads.

“Often we slow down before intersections or corners when we see cars coming, to let them go through first as we often don’t know if they’ve seen us,” Deb said.

“We are always watching and aware of what’s around us.”

Both ladies work locally in Foodland and have customers come in regularly who tell them they’ve seen them out on the roads.

“It’s great they have seen us because we know all of our hi-vis gear is working,” Di said.

While Di and Deb are dressed head-to-toe in safety gear, they have seen a number of cyclists lately not utilising basic safety precautions such as wearing a helmet, and recommend buying a helmet instead of paying a fine!

A $171 fine will be issued if cyclists have failed to wear an appropriate helmet when riding, and while kids under 16 may receive a warning, their parents may receive the fine.

Do the wrong thing and this is what you’ll pay

• $171 for failing to wear an appropriate helmet or none at all

• if under the age of 16 parents may have to pay the fine for children not wearing helmets

• $121 for failing to display bike lights at night or in hazardous conditions

• $112 for pedestrians travelling along a road failing to use the footpath

Tips to stay safe when riding or walking at night

• wear high visibility clothing

• when riding a bike ensure both a forward and rear facing light are mounted

• avoid using headphones so you can pay attention to your surroundings

• wear a head lamp while walking so pot holes and ditches are visible

• always tell someone where you’re walking/riding

• carry a fully charged phone in case anything goes wrong