Are Recumbent Trikes Visible to Drivers? - That is the Question!
One of the questions we're often asked by newbies to trikes is ... "Can drivers clearly see riders on trikes?" The thinking is that recumbent trike visibility must be poor because trikes are lower than bikes. Surely, it's harder to see a recumbent trike rider than a 2-wheeled bike rider? Does this mean that trike visibility is more like trike invisibility?
Rest assured, we have the answers to these questions and the news is all good and SAFE!
There's an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words so let's bring on the photos ...
How Visible Are Trike Riders From the Inside of a Vehicle?
To answer this question, check out these photos. Even from inside a vehicle like a 4WD, trikes can be clearly seen by drivers.
Here is a rider less than one car length from a 4WD.
From the drivers seat:
While this trike only has one flag displayed, we believe two flags are better than one!
During all the years we've been riding around, we've had no problems being seen. In fact, we've turned many heads and have been highly visible. There are a few reasons for this.
The Width of Trikes Positively Effects Recumbent Trike Visibility
If you look at a trike along side a bike, you'll immediately see that there appears to be more to a trike. The appearance of more width and substance, in a trike, attracts the attention of other road users. While a standard bicycle handle bars are not that much thinner in profile to a recumbent, the all-togetherness of the recumbent profile makes it look more solid. Additionally, a bicycle riding near the edge of the road is in constant danger of coming adrift on the likes of gravel whereas a recumbent is many times more stable and don't just fall over.
Trike width is a factor in recumbent trike visibility.
Recumbent Trikes Sport Visibility Flags
There's plenty of room to mount high-visibility flags on a recumbent trike which is a safety feature bikes don't utilise. The flags flap when the trike is in motion or whenever the breeze hits them. It's this movement of bright colour that captures the attention of other road users and alerts them to your presence.
We prefer to mount two flags on each of the trikes we ride. Our thoughts are the more movement, the more attention will be drawn to our position. As we ride with children, there's no way we'll take any risks so double flags works well for us!
Flags increase recumbent trike visibility!
Trikes Attract Attention Because They're Unusual
Okay, you may think this is a bizarre statement but it's true. Trikes aren't as common as bicycles. When there's something unusual on the road, motorists give it their full attention which is great news for trike riders! After all, it's hard to hit something that you're staring at and trying to work out what on earth it is!
When you start riding a trike around, you definitely attract the attention of anyone you pass or who passes you ... including vehicle drivers. As a result, we've found that other drivers give trike riders more 'wiggle' room than bikes. This is something that suits us just fine!
By the way, if you really want to attract attention, try riding past a school yard during recess when all the kids are in the playground!
Back to the topic of visibility ...
The unusual appearance of trikes promotes recumbent trike visibility!
So if you've been questioning whether trikes are visible and safe to ride on roads, we hope you now feel more confident and reassured. You will be seen when riding on your trike! Of course, as with any activity, it always pay to be alert and keep an eye on what's happening around you for your own safety.
Just One More Thing ... Mirrors Are a Must!!!
No matter how visible you are on the road, always be alert to what is going on around you. This is why we love our mirrors which get used ALL the time!!! Mirrors allow you to check on any traffic coming up behind.
There have been a few times when I've been out testing a new trike without mirrors and have gone to check the mirrors that weren't there. It's only then that I realise how much I rely on mirrors.
We prefer to ride with two mirrors - one on the left and one on the right. The more visibility, the more forewarning you have on traffic coming up from behind.
Mirrors are like having eyes in the back of your head so that you can see what's coming up from behind as well as what's going on in front. Mirrors = extra vision. Seriously, why would you go without them?
Also, the mirrors let me check on the kids to make sure they're peddling and haven't turned on their pedal-assist! Many have been the time when I've been peddling uphill and they're sitting there with their feet up - literally! :o)
Have fun riding today - Get out there ! ! !
We've had a reader add that two flags are better for keeping swooping Magpies at bay, certainly an issue where we live. Additionally, you can buy LED lights to go on or are built into a flag post giving excellent visibility at night. Thank you, Steeve.
One thing to remember when you add lights, be careful when thinking of adding "blue" coloured lights as I believe it is illegal on public roads in Australia.
Bicycle riding and mobile phones (Qld)
To keep yourself and other road users safe your full attention is needed when riding. Using a mobile phone held in your hand when riding a bicycle is illegal—even if you're stopped in traffic. This means you can't:
hold the phone next to or near your ear with your hand
write, send or read a text message
turn your phone on or off
operate any other function on your phone.
We were not aware of this until we found this info - check in your area.