4 Tips for Cycling at Night

A Well-Lit Cyclist

There have been some legal questions brought up around the country about the front-headlamp law. If a cyclist has a headlamp on his helmet, does that count as the headlamp required at the front of the bike?

That is up for debate, but ultimately, having the headlamp on your bike is more important because the purpose of it is for motorists to see YOU, not so you can see the road.

With that in mind, investing in a second headlamp that attaches to your helmet may not be a bad idea, so that you can have a light that follows your vision.

In addition, there are many products on the market designed to light up a cyclist, including:

  • A reflective vest. Nathan sells reflective and L.E.D. vests for cyclists, as well as products like reflective sleeves and reflective gloves for colder weather.
  • Other areas of your body can be reflective too. Use products like ankle bands and wrist bands to make sure nothing is invisible on you.

More: Nathan Reflective Gear for Cyclists

A Route Change?

It's debatable whether you want to seek out well-lit roads or not. On one hand, traveling down a dark road when you're lit up like a Christmas tree will definitely make you visible to anyone who might come by.

But one could also argue that staying on well-lit streets will help you see potential hazards, like potholes, cracks and other things you might otherwise miss.

"All those become way more problematic at night because they're way less visible to you," Duggan said. "Pick a path and ride it through daylight hours before you ride it at night so you are familiar with it."

Another problem, particularly in the fall, is leaves. Some trails and roads can be covered with autumn foliage, which can hide hazards like tree branches.

Whatever route you decide to take, never lose your focus. The lack of daylight leaves less room for error.

More: 10 Tips From Hard-Core Bike Commuters

Hyper-Alert

Much like daytime riding around vehicular traffic, never assume that motorists see you—even if an alert driver undoubtedly should. Make decisions like crossing an intersection with ultimate paranoia.

Keeping those four tips in mind can keep you safe when riding at night, but there are no guarantees so it's important to always minimize the risk when riding on the roads.

"Cyclists need to do whatever they can to be as visible as possible so that they are making themselves aware to other cars," Duggan said. "Cars will look right through you so it's on the cyclists to make themselves visible."

More: The Dos and Don'ts of Commuting by Bike

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