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Did you know…
…according to the National Highway Traffic Administration most bicycle deaths happen between 6 p.m to 9 p.m.?
For me, the answer has always been biking, but sometimes the day was simply too short!
At first, biking at night was a bit scary, but as I gained more experience, I realized it can be relaxing, exciting, and fairly safe if you take a few (super important) precautions.
Keep reading to find out how to improve your nighttime riding “work-out”!
Table of Contents
Is Biking At Night Dangerous?
Biking at night is more dangerous because you are harder to see at night…
….but there are a few things you should do that will help make your night biking safe and fun!
First, you should make sure your lights are working and choose well-lit routes that you already know with as little traffic as possible.
At night roads are emptier and more silent so there’s more danger of letting yourself get too comfortable.
Letting yourself go with the flow can result in biking at an unsafe speed and you not paying attention.
Flying down the street is one of the greatest feelings ever.
Remember not to get too carried away at night and be aware of your surroundings.
You never know when an crazy driver might not see you!
In that situation the car always wins.
To help protect yourself always know the rules of the road!
Using Bike Lights
Using a good set of bike lights during your ride will make night rider much safer.
You will be able to see what’s in front of you.
Plus, cars will be able to spot you easier as well.
Bicycling suggests having one front light of over 400 lumens, and a rear light of 100 lumens.
The Geeky Cyclist website advise attaching a white light at the front and a red rear light.
An optional flashing red light accompanying the steady rear one is better at grabbing the attention of drivers.
READ MORE: Best Front Bike Lights For Road Bikes
You have to make yourself as visible as possible to cars so they can see you and avoid any accidents.
Many states law requires bike lights during the night.
Having your lights in check will not only save you from possible injuries, but also from being fined!
Wearing the right clothes can also make huge difference and make you even more noticeable.
Wear Reflective Gear
As you might have noticed by now…
the no. 1 rule for biking at night is being as shiny as possible!
Apart from the bike lights that are an absolute ‘must’, any biker should add some reflective gear to his or her collection for extra safety.
Some of the clothing you should think about getting:
- Reflective vest
- Reflective shoes
- Reflective jacket
- Reflective gloves
- Reflective socks
Buying reflective gear might be a little bit expensive.
Having the proper equipment to bike safely at any time of day and night is definitely worth it!
After all, the best experiences are those that are relaxing, exciting, healthy, but also free from danger.
Although you might literally look like a shiny star, enjoy the fun of your new appearance and ride with caution.
Using Bike Tire Lights
When I think of bike tire lights I remember a scene from Men In Black. Aliens on a tandem bike ride across the screen with bike tire lights.
Just like reflective gear, wheel lights are very good at making you more visible in traffic.
Especially from the sides!
Many people shy away from them thinking such lights are only for children. Personally, I think they look cool but maybe that’s because of Men In Black.
While bike tire lights do help to make you easier to see on the road, remember they shouldn’t replace replace your front and rear lights.
Both of those lights are more powerful and are very important for you to use to see the road and for the drivers to notice you from far away.
Before purchasing your tire lights make sure to know your tire size. That way you don’t buy the wrong size for your tires.
For best visibility having a light for both tires is better than just one.
Ride With A Friend Or In A Group
Not everyone feels safe and comfortable riding alone during the night. Even if you took all the necessary precautions.
You might still feel uneasy about going out there by yourself.
That’s perfectly normal!
If you still want to enjoy a night ride invite a friend to go with you. It’s even better if your fellow biker who’s experienced and already knows how to ride safely at night.
Another great idea organizing a group. If you have a couple of friends that love biking just as much as you do, why not enjoy the experience together?
The more, the better!
Biking with a friend or in a group has multiple advantages.
You feel more protected, engaged, and confident. So you’ll be able to appreciate the ride at a completely different level!
Also, more people means improved overall attention. If one of you fails to notice an obstacle on the road, chances are another will see it and ‘save the pack’.
Moreover, if an unfortunate event occurs, your friends will have your back and help you access the services and healthcare you need.
Secondly, apart from the safety reasons, riding with a friend or in a group is simply more fun and motivating.
When you are by yourself, it’s easy to get lazy…
…but when you know a couple of friends are waiting for you it’s way more difficult to procrastinate.
And let’s not forget the friendly competition that will challenge you to exceed your limits just a little bit, every time.
According to a study, when biking with friends (whatever the time of the day), you can go longer, faster, and further!
Plan Out Your Ride
Every ride will have unexpected things happen..
…but when your biking at night, it’s important to plan out your ride.
If you have a good plan for anything that could happen it will lower all the risk.
I know it can be super exciting to get out of the house, hop on your bike, and go wherever the wind takes you!
But, this strategy is not smart it’s dark outside.
Before starting your ride, plan it out in detail.
Choose your routes and make sure you are familiar with the areas you plan to ride in. The last thing you want is to end up on a jammed street filled with crazy drivers.
Or in a dangerous neighborhood with people who want to hurt you or steal from you.
You can also use a route planner to know for sure what are the best areas for riding according to your abilities, bike type, and fitness goals.
If you want that extra fuzzy feeling of safety when your out by yourself during the night…
…I would tell you to let friends or family members know about your plan.
Where will you be going?
How long will the ride take?
Can you on you GPS and share location?
All these are valuable details that any cyclist should take into consideration when bicyling at night.
If you are a with a friend or a group it’s not as important to inform a third party of your ride’s details.
Be Prepared For Issues
Planning everything that falls under your control also includes preparing for issues.
There’s plenty of issues that can happen when the sun is not there to protect us anymore, so keep reading to find out how to avoid them.
The first on your list should be traffic safety. I know roads seem emptier and safer but it’s not necessarily the case.
Less light means the drivers are less likely to see you ahead of time. That will make it harder for them to react and swerve out the way.
What you can do?
Get all the lights you have and shine like a star!
As I already mentioned, the front and rear lights, the reflective gear the tire lights are very important for proper visibility, so don’t try to cheat on this one! It’s your own life, health, and safety at risk. Moreover, make sure you know the traffic code really well.
The next problem you should take into consideration is crime. At night, the bad guys come out and the crime rates are higher.
The main rule is “Don’t ride where you wouldn’t walk!”. A good choice is to well-lit and populated streets.
You want people around that can hear you and help you out if something happens.
For extra safety, you can bring some self-defense tools with you like pepper spray.
You should also think about bringing some tools with you that can be a quick fix for your bike. You never know when a pothole can sneak up on you.
a nut on your bike gets lost and now something is out of alignment.
Another good idea is riding on the streets you already know very well.
Riding on streets your comfortable with in day make you more confident riding at night.
You will know every twist, turn, and bump in the road.
This way, even if you don’t have the brightest and most expensive front light, you will be able to ride around smoothly with your regular gear.
I hope these ideas gave you a little bit more courage for your next night ride!
As you can see, even if there are a lot of dangers that can occur while biking after sunset you have plenty of ideas to lower the risk.
This will make your ride more enjoyable and safe!
But before you grab your bike and get out the door, let’s quickly review of the golden rules for biking at night:
- Use front and rear lights
- Reflective gear and tire lights
- Make sure you know your route like the back of your hand
- Avoid potentially dangerous, empty, and extra-dark areas;
invite one or more friends to accompany you if you’re not confident enough to go out by yourself,
- Get familiar with the traffic code;
- Let someone know where you are;
- Bring some extra self defense tools if you know how to use them!
Biking at night can be an exciting, relaxing activity, especially if you need to combine winding down at the end of the day with a little bit of cardio.
It’s also a great opportunity to take advantage of the tranquil atmosphere and sit with your thoughts.
But, many people feel apprehensive to grab their bicycles and pedal their stress away once it gets dark.
It’s perfectly normal for you to feel the same, even if you know exactly what to do.
Apart from getting the right equipment, I encourage you to invite a friend to go with you during your first night ride.
It can really make a difference and give you the confidence to take on the night.
And let’s not forget it’s also a very practical, cheap, and healthy mode of transportation at any time of day!