My Open Apology to a Nighttime Cyclist

Dear Nighttime Cyclist:

I’m sorry.

I didn’t see you.

You hate to hear that, I know. I’m a cyclist, too. I’m sensitive to the issue.

But I didn’t see you.

I’m glad I didn’t hit you. I would have had no excuse. You were riding where you were supposed to be — on the right side of a residential street. And even though it was dark, you had a front headlight.

But I still didn’t see you.

I pulled up to the stop sign. I looked left, right, and left. There were no car headlights. There were no pedestrians crossing the street. Unfortunately, my brain didn’t register your dim, steady headlight as anything other than the park lights much farther away. Until I pulled in front of you.

Then I saw you.

Had I looked for a dim light, had I looked longer, I’m sure I would have seen you. I can and will be more careful. One safer driver.

I’ll see you next time.

But that doesn’t really solve our problem. We cyclists need to be more visible, especially at night.

We need to be seen.

I bought lights last week for my commute. Although I’ve only used them in daytime hours, it was in their flashing modes. Rather than being dim lights that don’t even register on the same brightness scale as car headlights, when flashing they can seem blinding. Or maybe not. I’d settle for being noticed.

I want to be seen.

Would I have seen you if your headlight was flashing? I think so. But I understand why your light was on steady. You wanted to see the road in front of you. A blinking headlight wouldn’t help with that. Maybe two headlights with one blinking, or a blinky on your helmet? The more lights, the better. The blinkier, the better.

I want to see you.

I’m sorry I didn’t.