Night Cycling

night cycling pathAlthough bicycle fatalities account for only 2 percent of all traffic fatalities, this still resulted in more than 700 deaths in 2012. 15 percent of these deaths occurred between 6p and 9p, while 25 percent occurred between 9p and 6a.

If you are riding your bike at night, it is imperative that you take all the necessary precautions to decrease your chances of being involved in an accident. The following tips are designed to assist you in making sure you are safe while biking at night.

The More Lights, the Better.

Being highly visible to drivers should be your main concern when night cycling. It’s very simple. The more lights you have, the safer you should be. In fact, many states have provisions in place requiring that anyone riding a bike in the dark have a light on the bike. Regardless of whether or not this is the law where you live, it is a crucial aspect of ensuring your safety.

What Lights Are Necessary for Your Bike

When selecting your bike lights, it is important to consider where you will likely be riding. If you are riding among streetlights, you won’t need the type of light that lights up the road in front of you. However, if you are riding through a dark area, you definitely need a light that illuminates your path. You simply need bright, flashing lights that are well placed. In all cases, you should be sure to have a white headlight at the front of your bike and a red light/ reflector in the bike. In addition, you should have white or yellow reflectors on each side (usually placed in the spokes) and on the pedals.

There are two main categories of lights to consider. LED lights are most often used on bikes because they are known for their durability and for being available in a wide array of brightness levels. Lumen lighting is measured in terms of the amount of light that is cast on the object you are trying to illuminate. Many bicyclists believe that a 200 lumen light is the minimum amount you should use for a bike.

You may want to opt for additional lighting to increase your visibility. Recently, many cyclers have begun adding a rear red light that blinks because it is sure to catch a driver’s attention. You might also consider investing in a helmet equipped with a light.

night cycling bridgeCarefully Consider Your Path

When the sun starts to go down, it is time to stick to the crosswalks located at busy intersections instead of riding through traffic up to the turn lane. While it will take a little longer, it is safer. Additionally, if you are riding in an area with heavy traffic, you may want to cut over one or two blocks to access a quieter side street.

It is recommended that you not bike to a new destination during the dark, if at all possible. If you do, try to plan your ride using routes you are accustomed to. In addition, you should always stick to routes that you are familiar with when biking at night. This is not the time to try and find a shortcut.

Pay Attention to What You Are Wearing

It is quite obvious that you should stay away from darker colored clothing while riding in the dark. Instead, opt for clothing in lighter or fluorescent colors. It is a good idea to also wear reflective vests, jackets, pant straps, and more designed to increase your visibility to drivers.

Reflective Additions to You and Your Bike

While you should already have the reflectors listed above on your bike, you may want to consider adding reflective tape to the frame and fenders of your bike. You can also purchase reflective bands that can be strapped to your ankles, legs, and arms.

Wear the Right Helmet

It goes without saying that you should wear a bike helmet any time you are riding your bike, but this is especially important at night. It should fit your head properly and meet all U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. This is usually indicated by a sticker saying it is CPSC approved. Finally, be sure to replace your helmet at least every three to five years.

Riding your bike at night is dangerous. However, using the information discussed above, you have the ability to improve your safety.

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