Rear View Mirror
About 2 months ago I decided to try a rear view mirror for my bicycle commuting. I had been thinking about getting one for some time, but hesitated because (vanity, thy name is boyonabike) I thought they looked geeky. Well, who am I kidding? I look geeky anyway, so why not go full geek mode? After 2 months of using the mirror, I am sorry I waited so long.
There are several kinds of rear view mirrors for bicycles. Some fit on the end of a handlebar, others clip to a rider’s glasses, and this one sticks on the side of a helmet. The mirror is adjustable so with a little bit of experimentation you can angle it just right, so that a quick glance will enable you to see what is behind you. It also easily detatches from the base (which remains on the side of your helmet), so you can take it off if you don’t want to use it or want to pack your helmet. I initially thought I probably would take it off for most rides, but after two months I find it so useful I keep it on my helmet at all times.
The mirror is extremely helpful in a number of common bicycling situations. For example, you’re riding along a street where there’s no bike lane (which is the majority of streets where I ride). Ahead, parked cars along the curb will force you to move further into the traffic lane (“taking the lane”). Your mirror allows you to quickly assess whether there are cars coming up from behind, how close they are, and how fast they’re going. Another important use of the bike mirror is when preparing to make a left turn, especially if you have to cross a lane of roadway to get into a left turn lane. As with a car’s side view mirror, itr makes changing lanes easier and safer. Finally, it just gives me a greater sense of safety and control to know where all cars are at all times when I’m riding.
The mirror does take some getting used to, and it has some minor drawbacks (besides looking bike-geeky). First, the presence of the mirror, though small (approximately 1.75 in. high and 1.25 in. wide), does create a tiny blind spot behind it on your left side. However, you quickly learn that a small turn of the head gives you a full range of vision to your left. Next, in my opinion, keep your glances in the mirror short, so that you continue to be fully aware of things up ahead of you, such as road hazards or car doors when riding past parked cars. Nevertheless, the mirror allows the glance to be much quicker than turning your head to look behind you, and makes it less likely that you’ll miss something ahead of you Again, with a little practice, the quick glance becomes second nature.
Overall, I find the rear view mirror to be a very helpful device that increases my awareness of what’s behind me, and it increases my safety because I no longer have to turn my head to see behind me. Having used it on my helmet for about 8 weeks, I really miss it on those short rides when I don’t wear my helmet.
Would I recommend the mirror? Absolutely. Will you look geeky? Maybe, but I’ve decided that bike-geekdom is the new cool.