Without a doubt, bikes are a terrific way to get from A to B and everywhere between and beyond. Burning off excess calories while cruising at speed through a fresh breeze is truly invigorating. And doing it at night is all the more exciting as the dim light changes your perception of speed and distance. The darkness of night, however, also exacerbates the risks of daytime riding. So what can you do to make night riding safer? Here are a few tips to consider.
Lights on Your Bike
One of the simplest ways to boost your safety when riding your bike at night is to install lights on your bike. Lights not only help you see your way in the dark; they also make it easier for others to spot you. A flashing red taillight and flashing white headlight draw the attention of drivers, instantly identifying you as a cyclist and prompting them to give you space on the road. Likewise, pedestrians can see you coming, greatly reducing the chance of a collision and injury to them and you.
Lights are inexpensive and only take a moment to fit onto your bike, but they may save your life. So stop putting it off.
Lights on Your Helmet
A safety feature that’s becoming increasingly popular is the helmet-mounted light. In fact, many cyclists opt to attach two lights: one white light facing forward and a flashing red one on the back of the helmet, just like on the bike itself. This measure further increases your visibility to drivers and improves your forward view. Also, consider wearing a white helmet, as this is far more reflective and therefore visible to other road users compared to a dark one.
Reflective Safety Gear
Cyclists are well known for bright and colorful lycra, so making the transition to reflective safety wear shouldn’t cause too much anxiety for night riders. A bright orange or yellow X-shaped vest with reflective strips will make it easy for fellow road users to see you in the dark. Cycling stores such as 99 Bikes have a comprehensive range of bright clothing and lights to choose from.
Keep to Well-Lit Areas
Where possible, keeping to roads with adequate lighting can greatly improve your visibility to drivers and pedestrians. Coupled with your lights and high-visibility safety clothing, good street lighting can go a long way to improving your safety as a cyclist. Of course, it goes without saying that improved ambient light makes it easier for you to spot potential hazards as well.
Choose a Sensible Route
Planning your route ahead can reduce your risk of colliding with a pedestrian or vehicle. Where possible, avoiding roads with little or no shoulder is best; country roads in particular are risky propositions for night cyclists. Urban areas present their own challenges regarding suitable thoroughfares for bikes, but well-lit roads and bicycle paths with low to moderate traffic lend an air of safety to your trip. Arterial roads that mainly carry cars during the day may become truck routes at night, so if you plan to use these routes after dark, take extra care to give them plenty of room.
If you regularly cycle at night or would like to start, why not share your own tips and experiences below?