How to Ride Your Bicycle Safely After Dark

While most people can ride in the afternoon or evening or Saturday Mornings when it is daylight due to my schedule I often have to get my riding time in before daylight. This means that I am often riding in the early morning hours and before it get light or as it is getting light. Riding at night is considerably different than riding in the daytime though there are some things that never change.

When I ride at night I take numerous precautions that I do not feel would be needed during the daytime hours. I have two small battery operated lights that are attached to the handlebars on my bike. I have devised a small dashboard for my bike which I made from a piece of PVC tubing and is held on by cable ties. These are removed when I race, but I leave them on for training. I also have a flashing blinkie light on the seatpost that is programmable.

I put Nu-Tech tires on a while back so I no longer have the lights that I used to have on my valve stems, because I no longer have valve stems but that is a subject for another article.

At night the idea for a cyclist is to be seen and to be able to see. To make sure I am seen even if I am not on the bike and that I can see whether or not I am on the bike I have a bike helmet light that attaches to my helmet in the front and lights up an area in front of me with a white light and I have a red triangle light on the back of the helmet. You can see pictures on my MySpace page.

At Caroline’s Ride in August 2009, I was the ride director and one of the vendors and sponsors was Joe Mizerek of Road Guardian out of Tallahassee Florida. Joe furnished me another device that makes me more visible. The device is a bright yellow reflective vest with a round circular light in the center of the back. The light starts in the center circle that resembles a target and progressively works it way toward the outside of the circle. Works great I get a lot of comments when I ride into WalMart at 5:30 AM.

I have also gotten comments from motorists that it was easy to see me or something to the effect: you really want to be seen, don’t you?

If you ride at night you really do not have to do all that much to make your bike and you safer and you more easily visible. The law in almost every state requires that you have a white light on the front of your bike that is visible by oncoming vehicles for at least 200 feet. The law in most states also requires that you have a red reflector on the rear of your bike. Georgia law also requires that you have reflectors on your pedals.

Note also that you will probably want to ride a little slower when it is dark outside, you can come up on something fairly dangerous pretty quickly at 15 plus MPH. You may scare and animal and it attack you because it feels threatened. You may not see something in the road that causes you to fall or could damage you bicycle.

So when you ride after dark, at night or early in the morning take precautions to be seen, be able to see and slow down, be safe not sorry.