I ride my bike more often than I drive, so when I do drive, I place special attention on people on bikes. I know how a good day can be quickly ruined by someone in a car passing too closely, too quickly or simply cutting you off. I don't want to make those dangerous mistakes when I do drive.
Unfortunately, even when being extra attentive to those on bikes, it is impossible to avoid uncomfortable close calls when the person on the bike is doing their best to avoid being seen and placing themselves in dangerous situation.
Last night at around 1am, on my way home from a concert, I suddenly found myself with a guy on a bike coming straight at me. Or I guess, I was about to head straight into him. The road was dark, the guy had zero lights, and was riding the wrong way to boot. I had to swerve to avoid a collision (no bike lane either so no sharing that lane).
I'm sure I scared the crap out of him, because he certainly scared the crap out of me.
The problem with many people on bikes and on foot is that they don't realize the basic concept of navigation:
Just because you can see them, doesn't mean they can see you.
I was in a car, with big bright lights. The guy on the bike could have seen me a mile away with no problem. But just because he could see me, doesn't mean I could see him. It's sort of like the ostrich situation in reverse.
So please, use a light!
The lights on the bike are NOT to help the rider see the road, they're to be seen. And they're absolutely necessary.
Oh yeah, riding the wrong way? Also a bad idea. But at least with a light I could have seen you and switched lanes much earlier. Going the right way with no lights is only ever so slightly safer.
Fortunately, no one was hurt last night, but it could have ended up worse for everyone involved. The guy could have been severely injured, or worse, and I would have been the one doing the damage. No one wins in a situation like that.
A $10 blinky is the best investment you can make when riding a bike, even more so than a helmet (which wouldn't have been much help at 50mph (My 40mph + his 10mph).