Low Light Poses a Risk to Cyclists1 of 10
Photo/Tim Regan, Flickr
According to the NHTSA, most collisions involving cyclists occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. during non-daylight savings time. Why? In diminished light, the human eye is transitioning between daylight vision and night vision.
In daylight, our eyes' cone sensors allow us to see color in high contrast. When it's dark outside, the eyes use rod sensors, which can discern motion and contrast. At low light levels, eyes shift between these two types of sensors, so they don't really see well with either set. Plus, it can take more than a minute for our eyes to adjust from one system to another. With eyesight limited in this way when it comes to low light levels, such as at dawn and dusk, cyclists may be at greater risk of collisions with those who are sharing the road.
Armed with this knowledge, you can move on to planning a safe evening ride.
Cycling Route Planning2 of 10
Photo/Pixabay, Creative Commons
If possible, plan your cycling route on well-lit roads or multi-use paths, through areas where visibility is high. This applies both after dark and before sunrise.
Always Ride with Traffic3 of 10
Photo/Parker Night, Flickr
Riding against motor vehicle traffic is especially dangerous at night: You can be temporarily blinded by headlights, which can decrease response time for evasive steering.
Use Headlights to See and Be Seen4 of 10
When setting up your bike headlight, don't blind oncoming traffic. Aim it at the ground about three meters ahead of your bike and, although it may seem counterintuitive, set your headlight on the lowest setting in low light conditions. Others using the same roads or paths will thank you for your courtesy, and you'll still be able to see what's ahead of you.
Use Tail Lights When Riding5 of 10
One of the most effective ways to be seen while cycling in low light is by using a tail light on your bike. Increase your visibility by setting your tail light to strobe mode.
Obey State and Local Laws6 of 10
Photo/Travis Ford, Flickr
In fact, many state and local laws require cyclists use headlights and tail lights when riding after sunset and before sunrise. In many locales, cyclists must obey additional laws, as well, so make sure you know before you go.
Apply Reflective Tape7 of 10
Photo/Daniel Oines, Flickr
Increase your visibility by applying reflective tape to your cycling shoes or to other areas on your body or your bike.
Wear Apparel with Reflective Features8 of 10
When selecting cycling apparel for riding in low light conditions, select gear that has reflective panels and features. Reflective elements on the legs or piping around pockets and zippers can help you be seen by others.
Wear Photochromic Eyewear9 of 10
Wearing performance eyewear at night offers protection from wind and other airborne dangers (tearing up can inhibit sight). Specifically, glasses with photochromic lenses, which change opacity quickly, are your best bet for cycling in varying light conditions.