For half the year the sun sets earlier. For cyclists, that means less light and an entire hour of lost sunlight. Night cycling safety is not something to take for granted. Follow these four basic tips for nighttime riding that will keep you safe.
Buy the Right Lights
If you are routinely commuting in the early morning or later at night, having the 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. Place one reflector underneath the saddle, and another on the back of your 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.
Wearing a bicycle helmet anytime you’re out on the road pedaling. Truth be told, riders need more than that when riding at night. Assume the cars on the road can’t see you, and always be prepared to anticipate their actions.
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.
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 disturbs 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. However, casual commuters need to be aware of the inherent risks involved. Practicing your ride either as the sun comes up or right as it goes down, can help you feel more confident. Work on different, safer routes home, and remember to be smart and be safe!