Safe Cycling Tips – 6 Steps to Safer Night Riding
Author: Cycling Deal Date Posted:1 January 2017
Riding at night can be a scary experience, especially if you haven’t done it much or don’t have the right gear. But following some simple guidelines and getting some basic bike accessories will make night riding safer, easier, and even fun.
- Try Night Riding on a Lighted Bike Path
Many bike paths designed for commuters run lights well into the night, making them suitable for bicycle commuting well past sunset. Cyclists don't need much more gear than they're used to in order to use these paths. Read the signs before entering the path to find out if the lights run all night or if they shut off at 10 or 11 PM.
- Wear Clear Sunglasses or Safety Glasses
If you don't have a pair of clear, cycling-specific glasses, a cheap pair of clear safety glasses picked up from an auto parts will work okay too. Just make sure you don't use the same dark-tinted glasses you'd wear on a sunny day – they will leave you effectively blind at night.
- Stay Aware at All Times
If you thought playing in traffic in broad daylight was scary, night riding is a whole new ballgame. If your bike doesn’t have reflectors or lights, get some before you attempt to ride at night. Even with these safety devices in place, treat every car as a potential threat and ride defensively. Ride a little slower and keep your eyes open for unexpected obstacles. Put more weight than usual on your feet, as your legs can act as shock absorbers if you do hit a pothole or branch.
- Reflective Tape and High-Vis Clothing
To make yourself as visible as possible, buy reflective duct tape from the hardware store and add strips to your bag, your frame, and the clothes you plan to ride in. If you can get hold of a high-vis vest or jacket they work great too – you won’t look stylish but you will be safer.
- Slow Down
A big, powerful bike light might shoot a decent beam 15-25 metres when stationary. That's great, but it’s not a lot of distance once you start moving fast.
It takes roughly half a second for the average person to react to anything even under optimal conditions. If you’re riding full pelt you might have already hit the obstacle ahead by the time your brain has processed what you’ve seen. Regardless of what light you choose, slow down to increase your reaction time and subsequent margin for error.
When you’re riding at night, remember to equip your bike with the best lights and other high-vis apparel and accessories. Taking these steps doesn’t have to cost a lot and it will keep you safer of your dark night ride.