Tips for Cycling at Night
Cycling at night, if done carefully, could have you looking a bit goofy. And that's OK.
Your bike will be lit up with two or three lights and a half-dozen reflectors. Your helmet could have a light on it. You could be wearing reflective and lit-up clothing. The possibilities are endless.
It's all designed to make you as visible as possible to vehicles, and the abundance of affordable products on the market today can make sure you're easy to see.
Luckily, these days, there are plenty of excellent lights available, which are small, lightweight and very efficient.Modern front LED lights have a high level of brightness, and can be seen from great distances. Most come with several output modes, from half to full to pulse mode, but pulse mode is probably the best for visibility.
1-Bike lights are important
you can install light on bike wheel
"The more lights the better," said John Duggan, a Seattle-based attorney who often represents injured cyclists. "I have 75 to 80 cases going right now. Almost every one of those, the car drivers never see the bike. They don't see us because they're not looking for us.
"At night it's a little different. There are all these flashing lights and bright lights and reflecting lights and reflecting vests. You could argue that you're more visible at night if you're lit up."
And that's a good thing. Bike commuters around the country will see their after-work ride home turn dark in the fall and wintertime. Shortened daylight can often mean being forced to train in darkness, either before the sun rises or after the sun sets.
Make sure you're as prepared as possible for night cycling. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
2-Safety Tips for Bike Commuters
In California, the law states that any cyclist riding at night needs to have a white headlamp, a red rear reflector, white or yellow reflectors on the pedals, and white or yellow reflectors on each side (usually in wheel spokes).
The law is similar in many states, but it's not nearly enough. When it comes to night riding, it pays to go well beyond the law to make your bike noticeable. Some ideas include:
- A rear red light, particularly one that blinks. A blinking red light is much more likely to get the attention of a passing motorist who might otherwise not notice you. These have exploded in popularity in recent years due to their effectiveness. Some have reflective material within them so it can double as the rear reflector required by law.
- Many types of headlamps are on the market, including strobes. Some argue that strobes are TOO bright and can blind anyone the cyclist is approaching at night. But they do give the appearance of a blinking headlight and are hard to miss.
3-A Route Change?
It's debatable whether you want to seek out well-lit roads or not. On one hand, traveling down a dark road when you're lit up like a Christmas tree will definitely make you visible to anyone who might come by.
But one could also argue that staying on well-lit streets will help you see potential hazards, like potholes, cracks and other things you might otherwise miss.
"All those become way more problematic at night because they're way less visible to you," Duggan said. "Pick a path and ride it through daylight hours before you ride it at night so you are familiar with it."
Another problem, particularly in the fall, is leaves. Some trails and roads can be covered with autumn foliage, which can hide hazards like tree branches.
Whatever route you decide to take, never lose your focus. The lack of daylight leaves less room for error.
Much like daytime riding around vehicular traffic, never assume that motorists see you—even if an alert driver undoubtedly should. Make decisions like crossing an intersection with ultimate paranoia.
Keeping those four tips in mind can keep you safe when riding at night, but there are no guarantees so it's important to always minimize the risk when riding on the roads.
"Cyclists need to do whatever they can to be as visible as possible so that they are making themselves aware to other cars," Duggan said. "Cars will look right through you so it's on the cyclists to make themselves visible."
- Christine Jiang