archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

How do you make yourself visible to motorists?

A. There are a number of good solutions to this. First and foremost, try to remain visible where you ride. Don’t quickly dart in and out of tight little spots where motorists won’t see you. Wear bright yellow clothing, the day-glow variety if you have such a jacket or shirt. If you don’t have such a garment, get one. Have a bright flag prominently displayed on a pole, with the flag portion about 6-7 feet off the pavement level. If the flag is too high, motorists can miss it if in close proximity to you. Better yet, have two flags, with one on each side of the seat, so the poles and flags move independently of one another, really bringing attention to you (BIG plus). Place reflective fluorescent stickers on your trike. Put a brilliant flashing LED tail light clearly displayed to the rear. Use a bright headlight in darker conditions, whether it be a shaded mountain road or any road at night. A cycling friend of mine is color blind. He told me that the typical bright orange flags that really stand out to people with normal vision only appear a muddy brown to him. He further told me that, by comparison, brilliant yellow stands out very well to his eyes. This is good information to know, and without his valuable tip, I would have never considered such a possibility! Make sure that bright yellow is in your flag and on your trike as much as practical. You could even get a bright yellow helmet – they really show up very well, and reveal your head to motorists. More good news is that trikers have a clear advantage over bikers due to the trike’s bizarre appearance, which subconsciously calls upon people’s brains to figure out what it is they are seeing. Trikes demand identification by otherwise distracted drivers. I can guarantee you’ll get their attention! All this works for me, and I’m still alive to report it to you now. If I missed a tip, please comment.

David Massey on PCTA 2

This triker has a lot of yellow showing to the rear. He also wears a day-glow green tee shirt over his long sleeve riding shirt. His flag (not visible in this photo) is bright orange. So, he has all three main visibility colors, plus his flashing tail light. This trike pilot is David Massey, with whom I set out in 2013 for a Pacific Coast tricycle journey. He is also riding a yellow Azub trike. Imagine if David had on a bright yellow helmet too! Then the package would be complete.


7 responses

  1. Rodger


    To Me — There are two parts of being visible. The first part is always to ride in a “Proper Lane Location”. The second part is divided into colours and something that moves ( flaps ).

    February 9, 2017 at 7:55 am

  2. Yvo

    Hi there, one of the most visible accessoires you can use on a trike are spoke-reflectors. Installed on both frontwheels and the rear wheel, it adds enormous visibility from the sides and also from the front and rear because they are tubular. Even during the day with the sun reflecting on them, they add to the visibility. Once you use them, you will never ride without them. Cheap and effective.

    Yvo Brouwers – Trike-Shop Belgium

    February 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

  3. trike hobo

    Thanks for the great suggestions Rodger and Yvo! Every idea helps us ride safely. Keep the ideas coming everyone.
    By the way readers, if you wish to visit Yvo’s trike website in Belgium, here is the link:
    My browser asks if I wish to translate, and when I do, the text appears in English. Perhaps your browsers will also allow translation. My translate box appears in the upper right corner when I open Yvo’s website.

    February 9, 2017 at 10:53 am

  4. Jaci Gibson-Henrie

    I buy bird scare tape and reinforce one end with clear package tape. Then attach it to my flag with a safety pin. That stuff flapping in the breaze catches the eye even standing still

    February 9, 2017 at 1:14 pm

  5. daytriker

    Human vision has many weaknesses not designed to cope with the speeds of modern day life. Try this little test to discover your own weaknesses & then imagine every driver on the road is as poorly equipped with refraction limits, focal obstructions, colour blindness & it’s in your own best interest to be as visible as you possibly can.—and-how-to-find-yours

    February 9, 2017 at 2:35 pm

  6. daytriker

    This test is better –

    February 9, 2017 at 2:41 pm

  7. I neglected to mention two more of David’s visibility colors: He has Radical Design side-seat panniers that are orange, and his flag pole is yellow.

    February 9, 2017 at 2:59 pm