A book on bike laws gives the following caution, which is worth considering. "If you are operating your bike without a light “during darkness,” you may be cited; more importantly, in the event of an accident, riding without lights will be either per se negligence or prima facie evidence of negligence, depending on your jurisdiction." In plain English, if you're riding at night and you get hit by a car, failure to make yourself visible by using lights and/or reflectors can make it difficult to collect an insurance settlement from the driver who hit you.
Are you familiar with laws regarding visibility? I've included some below.
Illinois law: Sec. 11-1507. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. (a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
Illinois law also requires that new bikes be sold with reflectors "visible from each side of the bicycle from a distance of 500 feet and shall be essentially colorless or red to the rear of the center of the bicycle and essentially colorless or amber to the front of the center of the bicycle provided. The requirements of this paragraph may be met by reflective materials which shall be at least 3/16 of an inch wide on each side of each tire or rim to indicate as clearly as possible the continuous circular shape and size of the tires or rims of such bicycle and which reflective materials may be of the same color on both the front and rear tire or rim."
In other words, if your tires have reflective sidewalk striping, that can meet the requirement for side reflectors. The bike shown below has both.
|Reflective sidewalls and wheel reflectors|
|Rear reflector and tail light|
Uniform vehicle Code Section 12-705. Additional lights or reflectors authorized. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by the foregoing sections. These lights and/or reflectors may be LED or regular, steady or flashing, as long as they comply with the requirements or limitations of the department.
|Helmet mounted tail light|
Reflective bands that can be worn around the ankles are a great idea for visibility. When you pedal, the movement of the reflective stripes makes you easily recognizable from side or front.
|Reflective band for arm or leg|
I'm glad to see more runners using lights and/or reflective items at night and in low light condtions. It's safer for them and for cyclists and pedestrians who may be sharing the same space. Please, please, if you're riding at night, get lit, get reflective, and make yourself visible to reduce your risk of getting hit. I'd rather see everyone get where they're going safely without any crashes or scary near misses.