He who guards his mouth and his tongue,
Guards his soul from troubles.
On Thursday night a car turning left from a side street almost hit me because I have no reflectivity or illumination on the sides of my bike. Front and rear I have impressively bright lights, but drivers turning from side streets have nothing to cue them that I even exist. My solution:
3M Scotch Reflective Tape, applied to the unused rim of the front wheel, makes a huge difference in visibilty. Compare that to the un-taped (except for one little piece) rear wheel. It works. The tape came in a 40-inch roll, which happened to also be the last roll at the hardware store. One side of one wheel used 78 inches (!!!!), which worked because I cut the roll in half first. Applying the two-inch long rectangular pieces to the round rim, all I could think of was calculus and fitting the area under the curve.
Unfortunately, Monnick Supply only had one roll of this fabulous tape in stock. Other area hardware stores either don’t carry reflective tape (Home Depot, you have failed me for the last time!) or don’t carry 3M brand. Because I am so pleased with the brightness and stickiness of this tape, I will wait until Tuesday for Monnick gets in their fresh supply of 3M reflective tape.
Alternatively, I could buy 150 feet of red-and-white reflective tape on Amazon for only $171. Then I could simply wrap my entire bike, and myself, in reflective tape. I bet that would do the trick.
Edit 15 Dec 2008: Ian and I checked near a half-dozen different hardware stores yesterday on our way home from church. The first one, in Holden, was open despite having no power — they had employees strategically placed with flashlights to help customers find products. Despite our best efforts, none of the stores we checked that were open carried reflective tape (the one without power we had to leave without looking because we only had a debit card and they could only take cash). One store, Village Lumber and Hardware in Westboro, was closed.
On a whim, I stopped this morning at the Village Lumber, which opened at 7:00. I arrived at 7:01 or so. When I walked in, four employees who were standing around the counter shooting the breeze stopped mid-sentence. All four turned and looked at me. I felt extremely female, in a hardware store full of guys. But I asked if they carried reflective tape, and a guy disappeared into the bowels of the store. I chatted with the remaining employees about my project and showed them the one rim I had already lined with tape. Then a miracle occurred: The employee came back with 3M Scotchlite reflective tape! They had a 2″x40″ roll of the color I used before, good for two full rims, and one 1″x40″ roll of red reflective tape. I bought the 2″ roll, but I think I may stop on my way home to get the red roll too, and alternate it with the white reflective on the rear wheels. That would cover all three remaining rims. I was just so pleased to find more of the reflective tape!
And this has reinforced my faith in small, family-owned hardware stores. They carry the specialty items, the unusual stuff, and really try to help meet your needs in a way that Home Depot or Lowes just cannot.