I have never understood why most of the cyclotourists in the world don’t really care about their safety when they ride in dangerous roads around the globe. I see again and again cyclists with no lights or anything reflective (except from the small reflective stickers on their panniers). No one seems to worry about the cars! When you ride 100 km and more a day, many of them in busy highways, you and your bike at the side of the road are just an obstacle that few drivers don’t even notice.
Being that many hours a day on the road, the possibilities for you to get hit by a car become really substantial. I usually choose alternatives routes on the mountains to avoid the horrible feeling of cars whizzing past me by few centimeters. The trip becomes much harder but wayyy more beautiful and enjoyable. But still, sometimes I have to ride on highways and I am never at ease when I do it. That’s why I try to be as visible as possible.
Over the years, I have found that the cheapest, easiest and most effective way to do this is by covering the panniers with a reflective vest (and sometimes even wear one just for extra measure).
I have been using reflective vests in my bicycle trips for years, wearing it, covering my panniers with it, making a flag out of it etc. Its incredibly versatile, and does wonders for your safety on the road. And the best part? They don’t weight more than 2 t-shirts! Add a rear blinking light and you become more visible than the sun in the Greek islands during the summer.
That way, even if your lights batteries dies out unexpectedly, you are still visible during the night (and day). If you don’t believe me, just put a cyclist wearing a reflective vest next to an other who doesn’t wear one. The difference is incredible!