Mid-October means the sun will be setting earlier and for cyclists, that means less light on the road and soon, an entire hour of lost sunlight. Night cycling safety is not something to take for granted so here are a few basic tips for nighttime riding that will keep you safer.
BUY THE RIGHT LIGHTS
If you are going to routinely commute in the early morning or later at night, making sure you have appropriate lights is important. You want at least one LED headlight and one tail light, though buying at least one extra is never a bad idea.
One method is to attach two reflectors on a backpack, one underneath the saddle, and another on the back of a helmet. This way speeding cars with low visibility understand that you’re on the road with them. Also keep in mind, that it’s likely illegal in your area to ride a bike at night without some type of lights. For additional information, contact your local police department and ask about local night time riding laws.
Of course, wearing a bicycle helmet is recommended anytime out on the road pedaling, but riders need more than that when riding at night. Assume the cars on the road cannot – or don’t – see you, and be prepared to anticipate their actions just in case.
It’s largely up to you to keep safe while riding at night, so learn the rules of the road and maintain a safe riding style at night.
GET THE GEAR
It might cost some money upfront, but purchasing a reflective jacket, and a commuter bag with reflective strips, is very much like the airbags and seatbelts in a car – it’s a cost of safety for that mode of transportation. This material makes it easier for cars to see you at night and can make a significant difference in pedestrians and other cyclists.
It’s dark out and you should avoid as many distractions as possible while riding. Music can disturb your sense of balance and control at night, as your vision is limited already.
For avid bike commuters, a transition to later mornings and earlier nights probably isn’t a big deal, but casual commuters need to be aware of the inherent risks involved. Practice either as the sun comes up or right as it goes down, work on different, safer routes home, and remember to be smart and be safe!