Riding Your Bike at Night – How to Stay Safe

Riding a bicycle at night is a lot more dangerous than riding during the day. Most bicycles are equipped for daylight riding, but need to be adapted for night time use. Apart from the fact that your ability to see is going to be diminished, a cyclist is very difficult for motorists and pedestrians to see. When traveling at night you are likely only going to able to see a few feet in front of you. Even with a good set of lights, seeing can be difficult. Passing cars will also have a harder time seeing you when you decide to ride at night. And when riding in the dark, you need to be aware of people and/or animals that could be sharing the road with you. Personal safety is vital and you need to be prepared for whatever might come your way.

It is highly advisable that children should never ride at dawn, at dusk or at night. Adults who chose to accept the greatly increased risk of riding at dawn, at dusk or at night need to take extra care both riding and choosing specialized equipment which helps reduce that risk.

Your bicycle should be equipped with rear and pedal reflectors. In addition, the bike should have side reflectors or reflective tire sidewalls. Bicycle reflectors are designed to pick up and reflect street lights and car lights in a way that may help you to be seen and recognized as a moving bicyclist. Check reflectors and their mounting brackets regularly to make sure that they are clean, straight, unbroken and securely mounted. Do not remove the front or rear reflectors or reflector brackets from your bicycle. They are an integral part of the bicycle’s safety system. Bear in mind that bike reflectors are not a substitute for required lights. If you’re planning to ride at night, you must also have a white light installed in front and in the rear.

If you choose to ride under conditions of poor visibility, check and be sure you comply with all local laws about night riding, and take the following strongly recommended additional precautions:

– Wear clothes that make you more visible. Wearing neon, fluorescent or other bright colors helps you be easily seen by motorists. Items such as a reflective vest, reflective arm and leg bands, reflective stripes on your helmet, flashing lights attached to your body and/or your bicycle all work well. In fact, any reflective device or light source that moves will help you get the attention of approaching motorists, pedestrians and other traffic.

– Purchase and install a battery or generator powered head and tail lights which meet all regulatory requirements and provide adequate visibility.

– Make sure your clothing or anything you may be carrying on the bicycle does not obstruct a reflector or light.

– Ride slowly. Stay alert at all times. Look out for hazardous surfaces or obstacles in your path, such as potholes, loose gravel, manhole covers, cracks, railroad tracks, or wet leaves.

– Avoid dark areas and areas of heavy or fast-moving traffic. If possible, ride on familiar routes. Streets with bright lighting are best.

– Avoid road hazards. Be alert. Ride defensively and expect the unexpected. If riding in traffic, be predictable. Ride so that drivers can see you and predict your movements. Always assume that a driver does not see you.