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cycling at night

November 18, 2010

Cycling at night* can actually be quite lovely. As long as you have a head and rear light, you’re good to go. I keep my lights on blinking mode to make me even more noticeable to cars.

And by night, I mean anything past 5 pm these days.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2010 03:36

    So I was biking home tonight and totally freaked myself out. I think I just started not trusting the cars around me, even though I have lights. So I got off my bike and walked it a couple of blocks. I felt silly.

    It is funny cause in the summer, I can bike at night no problem. But the fact it is cold somehow made a difference. Maybe it is the lack of other cyclists.

  2. Janice in GA permalink
    November 18, 2010 04:23

    I’m totally craven when it comes to riding at night now. I just can’t get up the nerve to go out on our roads in the dark. And I have 3 tail lights, one light on the rear of my helmet, and two headlights.

    I just don’t trust drivers to see me. :( And I’m really not happy about this. :(

  3. November 18, 2010 04:40

    When I ride at night, it’s so peaceful and tranquil. I take in the beauty and awe of the experience of the surroundings at night. And, the same roads you ride during the day seem new. I sometimes feel safer riding at night then I do during the day. Of course having good lights help.

  4. November 18, 2010 07:27

    I love riding my Electra Cruiser by night as well (i.e. past 5 p.m.) – I use blinking lights as well! Thank you for all your enthusiasm about riding a bike whatever time of year and (almost) whatever the weather – I’m a convert!

  5. Harry H permalink
    November 18, 2010 08:22

    I agree with SM night riding is fantastic and a good set of lights and some reflective gear is a must.

  6. November 18, 2010 09:15

    It takes me a while to adjust to the fact that dark =/= night once the winter season begins. At first I do tend to stay home more in the evenings than a normally would, but eventually I do adjust. My biggest wish as far as cycling goes, is that the local “commuter paths” were lit. However, they are not, which makes them absolutely worthless for actual commuting this time of year. Otherwise, cycling is pretty much the same for me in the dark as in the daytime. And when it gets really late it’s best of all, because there are fewer cars out on the roads.

  7. November 18, 2010 13:44

    The one thing I do differently at night is that I never put in my headphones. During the day, I feel safe to listen to my podcasts on a low volume setting because I can still hear and I can see well in my surroundings. Once it’s dark, I feel like I need to keep my senses a bit sharper than during the day and I’m more on the defensive when riding. And I avoid high traffic areas and stick to well lit side roads.

  8. Janni permalink
    November 18, 2010 15:06

    Ich bin nicht sicher, ob ein blinkendes headlight wirklich mehr Aufmerksamkeit bei Autofahrern erzeugt. Rotes Blinklicht (also hinten) ist ok – das kennen Autofahrer und reagieren entsprechend – aber weißes Blinklicht?!

    • November 18, 2010 15:40

      Janni – I’ve been keeping the head light on ‘blink’ mode too after having seen many other cyclists do that. I think it does draw more attention than just a steady white light. It would just catch the eye more. I never saw that done in Germany but I’ve seen it quite a bit here in the US.

      • Janni permalink
        November 18, 2010 20:33

        Sure – blinking mode is not allowed in Germany!

        Nachdem ich im Urlaub in Dänemark Erfahrungen machen konnte, finde ich weißes Blinklicht nicht besser als Dauerlicht (http://www.flickr.com/photos/siggel/5115829226/) – ausserdem sieht man nicht so gut auf unbeleuchteten Wegen.

    • Bummble permalink
      March 27, 2011 13:51

      ‘Blinking Mode’ is not allowed here in the Netherlands, either (although I do still see it sometimes).

      It’s because while blinking does draw slightly more attention, it makes it much harder to tell the speed and direction you’re riding in.

  9. Janice in GA permalink
    November 18, 2010 16:18

    At the low-light/dark times I need to ride, there really isn’t appreciably less traffic here than there is in the daytime. And I have virtually no paths or bike lanes on my routes.

    I envy those of you who live where it’s easier to ride at night.

    • November 18, 2010 16:48

      Janice – that’s too bad. We don’t have bike paths or trails everywhere, but I use sidewalks. In our city, it’s legal for bikes to ride on sidewalks because of the lack of bike lanes. And since that keeps me sufficiently separated from cars, it feels pretty safe. On side streets and neighborhood roads, I still use the road because the sidewalks are always so narrow and bumpy.

      Are there sidewalks where you commute and is it feasible to use those during the mornings or afternoons when it’s dark out?

  10. Demelza permalink
    November 18, 2010 17:02

    I’m in the UK, so since our clocks went back a few weeks ago I cycle to and from work in the dark. I put one of those flourescent velcro ‘snap’ bands (don’t know the correct name but they’re made to keep your trousers from flapping round your ankles) on each wrist, so drivers can better see my arm signals when I’m turning. I also have just added spoke lights to my bike in addition to the front and back lights. They make you more visible but also just look really good! (see this music vid for evidence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTMrlHHVx8A although the crash at 4:02 is unfortunate!)

  11. November 18, 2010 17:14

    Most of the streets in Portland are pretty well lit by streetlights, and in several years of riding all year, I’ve never felt like people driving have trouble seeing me – at least, I’ve never had a car almost hit me, or had any kind of conflict that would suggest that someone didn’t see me. I feel lucky in that regard, for sure. I just ride in my normal clothes, unless it’s a torrential downpour, in which case I wear a poncho over my clothes that has a couple reflective stripes on the back.

    I also love riding at night for some of the same reasons stated above. It feels kind of personal and private, more meditative somehow.

  12. Jennifer permalink
    November 18, 2010 20:50

    I have such an aversion to cycling in traffic that I will do anything to avoid it, including cycling along the unlit cycle path. Last year I found it really spooky but this year it seems more manageable. The most dangerous aspect is coming across pedestrians in black clothes, sometimes with small darting dogs. I wonder if dog walkers realise just how invisible they are. I have a pretty elaborate light system so I can see as much as possible.

  13. November 18, 2010 22:42

    I love cycling in the dark in the very early morning or very very late night. Basically in the time after all the bars have closed and the drinkers have had time to get home… Once we were in the countryside during that timeframe and I saw an entire field lit up with fireflies. I can’t describe how magnificent it was, like the fairies I used to believe in decided to all come visit at once.

    We rode bikes through the dark countryside as the “getaway” from our wedding. The darkness and cool air was like water, after all the stimulation of a family wedding it was an incredible experience to be with my new husband in the dark with only our bike lights and the sound of our tires on the road. A complete delight.

    Cycling in the city at night is fun too, just different. I’m much more concerned for my safety then.

  14. Michael permalink
    November 19, 2010 01:12

    I love riding at night. I have two rear lights that I keep on blink mode and a single headlamp which I keep on steady.

  15. November 19, 2010 21:19

    I’m not comfortable riding at night, but glad you are able to enjoy it!

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