Riding at night can be dangerous without the right precautions. That is, without lighting devices and reflective clothing. But for some people, riding in the dark might be inevitable. So, here is what you need to know.
So is riding your bicycle at night dangerous? Bicycle riding at night is much, much more dangerous than riding your bike during the day time. It is harder for you to see the surroundings, including curbs, potholes, and more, and it is harder for other vehicles on the road to see you as well. We’ll dig a little deeper into this in the article, and how to overcome this to enjoy some great night bicycling!
1. Be aware of the surrounding at night
Riding at night can be good fun. After all, the increased feeling of speed and the quieter roads give you a different perspective on otherwise familiar routes. But both the urban night riders and the off-road trailblazers need to be aware of their surroundings.
Often, lack of proper lighting lead night riders to miss crucial road signs. The ability to see where you are going is paramount. Likewise, the ability for others to be able to see you depends on what you wear.
If you wear reflective clothing, pedestrians, motorists, and other cyclists will spot you easily. Especially if you are riding away from streetlights. Similarly, a good set of lights will ensure optimal visibility of the road.
Of course, no one can see you if it is completely dark and there are no light sources. So, this is why you need efficient lights on your bike.
Other additions and tips include:
- Adjusting the tilt of your frontal light so that you have the time to react to obstacles and potholes on the road.
- Buying a helmet-mounted light (like this one) for additional lighting. Having a light that illuminates wherever you look is a big plus.
- Installing a frontal light whose beam you can adjust on the fly to avoid blinding other drivers. (Some lights have a design that lets you decide the brightness or intensity with the push of a button.)
2. Abide the law
Make sure to read what the law says about night riding. In different places, different requirements may apply. In the same vein, common sense also provides good ideas.
First and foremost, you need to install a good set of lights on your bike. Both on the front and the rear. A small, well-made flashing light is invaluable.
The correct light depends on where you ride. Plus, it should come off when you need to take it out. For example, whenever you want to lock your bike outside.
For safe riding at night, use:
- A front LED light that emits more than 600 lumens (800-1,000 lumens would be better).
- Red flashing lights like these (the strip drive design works well but choose a big size).
- Small patches of reflective fabric if you cannot afford a high visual jacket.
3. Safety checks
Without a doubt, a hefty helmet can hinder you or cause discomfort. But you also need to wear a helmet when you ride at night. So, make sure that your helmet has the right weight for your head.
Checking your protective gear is a must if you plan to ride off-road at night. In fact, riding off-road adds an extra dimension. The need to differentiate between a multitude of different surfaces and obstacles should make you go slower. But in any case, the risk of tripping over unexpected nuisances is never zero.
For off-road riding at night, put a light that emits at least 1,200 lumens on your handlebars. You should also check the color temperature of the LED light. In detail, pick a LED light with a color temperature between 4,500 and 5,500 K.
Sometimes, manufacturers address color temperature as neutral white. Avoid cool white lights because a high color temperature will make you struggle with depth perception.
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Here are additional safety measures to consider. Especially if you are night-riding for the first time:
- Avoid using too many less-known roads.
- Buddy up with a friend or colleague who is also interested in riding at night. Having a friend is ideal is the unexpected happens.
- Plan different routes as you get more experienced. But find a new road with less traffic. At first, having many light beams might behind you may distract you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bicycle safety in general is a major concern for road users and authorities. Bikes are a much smaller mode of transportation than really any other type of moving vehicle on the road today. This in combination with not having any safety features like airbags, means you need to pay close attention to your safety.
Healthy night cycling is not a contradiction in terms. However, there are some extra considerations to make compared to daytime cycling. For example, you should always wear a helmet and night-time lights are a must. In addition, night riding may require more food than you would have during the day because night exercise burns more energy.
Riding your bicycle at night with a helmet, and proper lighting on your cycle means it likely is not illegal to ride your bicycle at night. That said, every state, and country is different, so make sure to check your local laws.
Riding a bike at night is not dangerous per se. But you might have to make up your own mind about some details that can influence your safety. For one thing, you need a reliable set of lights that ensure visibility. Both for you, the pedestrians, and drivers. The rest is all about best practices like wearing reflective clothing and pedaling cautiously.
Make sure to stay safe, and ride your bicycle with all of the right equipment!