Why Do I Need a Bike Mirror?

Would you drive a car without a rear view mirror?  Of course not.  Still, we know many cyclists have decided they will never use a bike mirror.  Since you're reading this, presumably you are not one of those people.  We're happy you have an open mind.  Bike safety is no joke, and it seems a no-brainer that a rear view mirror can be one tool to help keep cyclists safe.  Still on the fence?  See who else recommends bike mirrors:

  • The National Safety Council
  • A former pro cyclist 
  • An urban cycling expert 
  • An veteran touring cyclist 

The National Safety Council cites the following sobering statistics:  

In 2015, "488,123 people were treated in emergency rooms after being injured riding a bicycle...[and] about 1,100 deaths resulted from cyclists colliding with motor vehicles. With about 80 million bike riders sharing the road with millions of motorized vehicles, the importance of safety precautions in traffic cannot be overstated."  The Council recommends rear-view mirrors as one way to increase bike safety.  Check out Bike Safety: Live to Ride Another Day.

Former pro cyclist Tom Soladay decided to try a mirror after noticing "more and more drivers are paying attention to their phones instead of the road."

Tom Soladay with bike mirror
Soladay acknowledges that cycling mirrors are not something you see among the bike racing crowd. Still, it was a revelation when he rode with a fellow cyclist who was using a mirror: "He 

knew that a car was about to pass without having to crane his neck to look—we could anticipate traffic with almost no effort, and it felt much safer."  He describes being hesitant to wear the mirror in public, and even getting teased a little about it.  In the end, though, he learned to really appreciate the mirror.

"I used to think ... mirrors were dorky. But as I transition toward dad life, I care less about what other people think... and more about staying safe."  (Note:  Soladay is wearing the "Take a Look" mirror.  To see why our mirror is superior, check out our comparison: Specchio Bike Mirror vs. Take a Look Bike Mirror.)  Read the full article about Soladay's bike mirror awakening at bicycling.com.

Urban cycling expert is "an adamant mirror user."

Lance Jacobs the Virtuous BicyclistNative New Yorker Lance Jacobs focuses "on studying and teaching the best way to ride in NYC's unique street environment."  For him, this includes using a rear view mirror.  He notes that, even when cyclists are not making a lane change, it is useful to know whether they can safely drift into the lane a little to avoid rough patches in the road or activity near the edge.  He also points out the relief that comes from realizing the coast is clear behind him:  " Often, my mirror gives me good news: the car who was approaching has decided to park, the cab to discharge a passenger, the entire flow stuck behind a double-parked truck. So often I find the mirror giving me the welcome news; there are no cars coming at all!" 

Lance dismisses a common objection to mirror use by cyclists:  "I’ve heard it argued that 'I don’t want to become dependent on a mirror'. I am happy to use and be “dependent” on any technique that increases my situational awareness. There is no handicap that results from having more information."  Well said.  See Lance's Thoughts on Rear View Bike Mirrors at his site, VirtuousBicycle.com. 


Use Bike Mirrors to Influence How Traffic Will Pass You

Car passing bicycleCharlie Otto is a veteran touring cyclist.  When he wrote a guest post about bike mirrors for the Adventure Cycling Association in 2013, he had taken 15 cycling trips of a month or more.  His post outlines in detail his strategy for using mirrors to safely co-exist with car traffic: "Cycle mirrors not only let you see what the cars  behind you are doing—if used correctly, they can also enable you to influence how the traffic will pass you."

He describes his three goals with cars that are overtaking him on the road, and how a bike mirror is critical to achieving those goals:

    1. Get passing traffic to slow down
    2. Get them to give the cyclist some extra room as they pass
    3. Have the driver actually make a clean pass

He also notes that the mirror sometimes alerts him that a pass is not going well, and the safe move for him is to get off the road.  Finally, a mirror is useful for "telling you when it’s safe to use the full road for cornering, and for keeping track of what your drafting partners behind you are doing."  Find Charlie's post Backward Vision: The Case for Mirrors at the Adventure Cycling Association website.