Hey Angels and Alphas,
As the daylight hours start slowly dwindling this time of year, a lot of us will be stuck doing our workouts or bike commutes at early dawn, dusk, or even straight up in the dark. It can even be tempting to hang up your bike and start the countdown until the warm days of the spring are finally here.
But riding in the dark doesn’t have to be unsafe or scary! It just requires a bit more planning.
We’re here to talk about a few easy ways you can make your night (or early morning ride) safer and even more fun.
#1 ADD MORE REFLECTIVE GEAR
One of the simplest ways you can add more visibility for the people who are riding in low-light conditions is by adding reflective accents to your bike, clothing, and bag. While most of the cycling-specific clothes claim to have reflective elements, you still might want to add extra strips of reflective tape unless the entire jacket is meant to illuminate in the dark.
Fortunately, this is a very cheap fix. You can buy fabric and plastic reflective tape online and even add stripes to the back of your jacket, saddlebag, wherever – while this won’t illuminate the road for you, it will make you very visible to traffic.
#2 ADD LIGHTS TO YOUR BIKE
If you are riding for extended periods of time even after the sun has set, you will want your front and rear bike lights to work perfectly. A rear light should be red, and you should have a simple way to snap it onto the rear triangle of your bike frame or your seat post.
A lot of lights come as kits with a white front light – you will need this. Look for a front bike light that has at least 1,000 lumens and the ability to recharge via a USB. 1,000 lumens is enough to illuminate the road ahead without wasting a lot of battery power.
#3 SKIP THE HEADPHONES
While wearing headphones during a ride is usually never a good idea, wearing them at night is a definite no-no.
You want to stay as aware as possible of your surroundings when you’re in the dark, since traffic is generally less predictable and you’re less obvious to drivers. Beyond this, there are also plenty of people who don’t wear reflective gear and can step out in front of you at any moment. Your playlists and podcasts can wait – involve all your senses to stay alert during your ride.
#4 FIND LOWER TRAFFIC ROADS AND BIKE LANES
Unfortunately, drivers tend to be less aware of cyclists when it’s dark outside. Because they don’t expect to be sharing the road with anyone else.
While lights and reflective gear are a great way to alert them of your presence, your best option would be to find routes that avoid major roadways or preferably stay in a bike lane.
Look for roads that have a wide, fully protected bike lane and a path to safety at all times. If your area doesn’t have a lot of good options, you can find a few roads that have the least amount of traffic and the highest number of streetlights for your rides home.
#5 RIDE WITH A FRIEND
There’s always safety in numbers, so whenever possible, you should try to enlist a friend for your night rides. Maybe you can do part of your commute home from work together before you go your separate ways, or you can meet up for a morning ride instead of both of you doing your own thing.
Bonus: knowing your friend is going to meet you for your 6 a.m. ride will make you much more likely to get out of the door, start pedaling, and feel safer throughout your entire journey.