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Biking commuting is a great way to save money on gas, stay in shape, and avoid the awful commuter slog.
While cycling may seem like a positive trend for our environment, bike commuters at night are often at risk of getting injured or killed by cars because of the dark.
Read on for tips that will help keep you safe for some dark commuter cycling.
1. Use Lights – Front And Back – To Make Yourself More Visible At Night
Bike Commuters Should Have Both Front And Backlights On Their Bikes When Riding Between Dusk And Dawn. No Question.
Lights are essential for the bike community at night since streetlights do not provide sufficient illumination for cyclists riding during those hours.
Video: Tips For Cyling And Training In The Dark
Bike headlights come in various shapes and sizes; some clip onto clothing or fit into a pocket like mini flashlights, while others attach to the handlebars or frame of the bicycle.
Headlights should have steady or flashing modes with a white headlight pointing to the front of you, and a red taillight behind you. If you plan to ride your bike during the evening or early morning hours, invest in a good set of lights.
Don’t forget reflectors. Reflectors provide one method for making cyclists more visible after dark. Still, they should never replace lights and only be used as a backup in tandem with using actual lights. Maintain the cleanliness of your bike’s reflectors so that they continue to function when hit by headlights from approaching vehicles.
Read more: Bike commuting tips
2. Wear Light-Colored And Reflective Clothing & Accessories
If it’s dark enough outside that car drivers can’t see you well, you might want to consider wearing reflective clothing.
Bike commuters should wear light-colored clothing visible to drivers and pedestrians, but what does this mean in practice?
Video: Guide To Lighting And Reflective Clothing
It’s also good practice to make sure your bike has reflectors on its wheels (you can even opt for wheel lights), but you could also consider adding to your pedals, spokes, frame, and seat post. Reflectors are especially important if you plan on riding against the flow of traffic and are relatively cheap and easy to install.
Video: Five Amazing Bike Reflectors You Must See
3. Stay Off Busy Highways
Bike commuters should avoid busy highways when riding at night.
Nasty accidents happen most often during rush hours and on high-speed streets with heavy traffic flow, which means that bike commuters are more likely to get injured or killed while biking on major roads than at any other time or place.
Therefore, if you want to stay safe, steer clear from these common areas at night: freeways, expressways, tolls roads (unless they have designated bike lanes), streets with heavy traffic flow, and busy intersections. You should also try not to bike at night on roads that have no or little lighting.
4. Make Sure Your Tires Get Inflated Properly
Bike lights and reflective gear will help increase your visibility, but this will only work if your bike is in good shape. One of the most important things to do before a nighttime ride is to ensure that your tires get adequately inflated. It can seem like a small detail, but underinflated tires can cause pinch flats or, worse, accidents on bumpy surfaces.
Make sure you check tire pressure before every ride and inflate the tires every few days to keep them at optimum pressure.
If you can, use treaded tires and/or tires that have good puncture resistance.
5. Keep An Eye Out For Large Puddles & Potholes
It’s essential to be aware of large puddles that you may encounter when biking at night. When approaching a large puddle, proceed with caution! Where there is poor drainage, bike commuters may encounter car-sized puddles on the street after rainfall.
In winter, also look out for ice patches that can result in serious injuries.
Potholes are another curse for urban cyclists. Aside from being dangerous, they can cause punctures. Stay WELL CLEAR!
6. Ride Defensively
Try to stay well clear of the edge of the road. Don’t be scared to “take the lane”. By staying too close to the edge you risk being run dangerously close to drains, gutters, and other nasties. Riding too close to the edge can also result in a higher chance of punctures.
Remember to use hand signals. Stick out your left arm straight in front of you while pointing with your right index finger when turning left; do the opposite when turning right (right arm in front). Make sure drivers can see you by lifting your arm straight out to the side or extending it up in front of you to safely stop in traffic (pointing at cars with your right index finger).
7. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Because bike lights are less bright and streetlights don’t reach as far ahead on the road, it can be challenging to see what’s approaching or around corners. It’s also more challenging to notice obstacles in your path that you might have missed during the day.
You’ll need to be extra vigilant for cars, pedestrians, other cyclists on the road, and anything else that may come your way. So be on the lookout for danger signs like a car door opening unexpectedly, a pedestrian stepping off a curb without looking first, or another cyclist swerving back towards you because they didn’t see you.
8. Keep your bike well maintained
Keep your bike well maintained with regular maintenance checks from a professional mechanic to keep your bikes in good working order. Air in the tires, oil changes, brake fluid, chain lubrication, and cable adjustments are all examples of bike maintenance checks.
Bike maintenance is necessary to ensure proper bike performance as well as safety. Bike commuters can avoid accidents and maintain higher speeds on their bikes by performing routine maintenance checks.
9. Cautious Riding
Bike commuters must be especially aware of their surroundings, and they should take every precaution to stay safe. One way to do this is by practicing cautious riding when biking at night.
So to sum up:
- Watch out for potholes and potholes
- Make sure you’re using good lights: front and rear
- Try to wear fluorescent and reflective clothing
- Reflective material on the bike and accessories is good
- Make sure you keep your bike well-maintained
- Avoid very busy roads with fast-moving traffic
- Ride defensively – TAKE YOUR LANE and don’t be intimidated by car drivers