Night Riders – Tips And Tricks For Riding After Dark
It’s that time of year again.
Shorter days, early sunsets, and fighting off the urge to go to bed ridiculously early because it’s pitch dark.
The good news is that we are now less than one month from winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (December 21). After that, each day will get longer (by an average of two minutes and seven seconds ) until the time changes again in mid-January.
While some bikers are accustomed to night riding, this time of year can become a challenge for cyclists who would typically take an evening ride or a quick spin after work – and may not be as familiar or comfortable with the nocturnal bike ride.
Here are a few tips for safe riding after the sun goes down brought to you by a few of our team members here at Jupiter Electric Bikes.
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Choose the safest routes. Map out plans that are well-lit and have less traffic during the evening hours. Lighted bike trails and roads with designated bike lanes are safer options if available. Get familiar with your route in the daylight so you can map out any confusing intersections or potential pitfalls ahead of time. Purposefully picking roads and times with as much quiet as possible is a sound strategy for safety.
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Use reflective duct tape on your back and legs when possible (motion catches the eye of nighttime drivers). Gloves with reflective patches are great for signals after dark. Bike basics for night riding should include a reliable headlight, a helmet light, and a rear light. The front headlight should be pointed towards the ground 20 feet ahead of the rider. Overly bright or flashing front lights are not recommended as this can distract oncoming drivers.
Ride with Caution – Riding at night means it is much more difficult to see hazards such as slippery leaves or approaching potholes. If riding in tandem, leave space between you and the riders in front or back. Also, even though your Spotify after-dark playlist is full of bangers, it might be best to have your hearing 100% available for night riding so you will be aware of approaching vehicles or curious neighborhood dogs.
Own the Road – Nighttime riding is not the time to hug the curb too tightly especially on busy roads. Staying too close to the curb may encourage a car to pass you when it might be unsafe to do so. Also, there is safety in numbers. If you are solo, tell someone where you are going and be sure to bring along a phone and tools if possible. If you find a nighttime route that you love and master, it becomes a great way to end the day. Breathe in the fresh air and clear your head from the day’s activities.
Be sure you charge up before you head out for your night ride. Choose a light setting (such as medium brightness) that will give you time to complete your ride. The goal is to not be left in the dark by the end of your ride so having multiple light options is a plus. If possible, save the brightest light settings for the most difficult stretches or completely unlit areas of the intended route. If you plan to do extensive night riding, a dynamo lighting system (powered by the motion of your wheel) is recommended.
For more information on safe riding at night, check out this article from people for bikes