You might be a cycling enthusiast but there are high chances that you may never have the chance to bike at night. Most people are terrified even by the thought of riding at night. But, honestly, there's no reason to stop just because the sun has gone down. You need to possess the right attitude and of course some excellent quality gears. This way you easily cycle under a starlit sky and enjoy the views of the surrounding which sure is an exhilarating experience. The way that you see things in the daytime appear to be completely different in the darkness. This means that you would get the opportunity to see the same thing from a different perspective. If you are an adventurous soul and love to explore, this might just be the perfect option for you. So, without further ado, let's learn about the informative tips and tricks on how to bike at night safely.
For the Adventurous Souls: 13 Fabulous Tips to Ride Your Bike at Night
Listed below are a few tips that would help you to embrace the darkness and have an enjoyable experience while biking at night.
Tip #1: Get Reflective
Okay, well so the main idea as you might have guessed is to make yourself as visible as possible. Thus, you should invest in perfect cycling clothing. It might be dark but there is a lot of ambience lighting bouncing going on during the night. This can, therefore, be utilized for your benefit. When you have decided to bike at night, one of the most obvious tips you need to remember is to avoid dark colour clothing. Opt for more brighter and fluorescent colours. Be wise and invest in gears that have reflective strips designed on them so as to absorb the light and then throw it back straight towards the light source.
You could wear Shirts, gloves, pant-straps, jackets, shorts, helmets, vets etc that have reflective patches. You could even get tyres that have reflective sidewalls or reflective frame strips. All of these would make you more visible to others. Another option is to make your own by purchasing reflective duct tape from your local hardware store and adding the strips to your bag, clothes or cycle. You also need to remember the fact that these reflectors would reflect in certain circumstances. For you to be seen at night, especially in low-light areas, these reflectors just aren’t enough.
Tip #2: Ride on an Illuminated Bike Path
There are several bike paths that have specially been designed for the bikers and therefore remain well-illuminated even during the night. This makes it especially easier to bike at night as this way you wouldn’t require any extra gears other than the one that you normally have. However, for your own safety and convenience, read the signs and ask the other bikers to know if the lights remain on for the night or are shut off after 10 pm.
Also, there are cycling paths in certain places that are illuminated by innumerable twinkling stones that have the glow-in-the-dark technology as well as solar power LED lights. This makes it a fun experience to ride at night.
Tip #3: Choose the Right Bike
When you choose to bike at night, you would need to choose the bike that even if it crashes, you would be fine with it. You might feel intrigued to take your newly bought bike out for a night ride, but, it would be wise to drop that idea. Get a bike of high performance and quality. Also, make sure that the road bike tyres are fatter than the usual one. That would make it the ideal commuter bike for night time.
But, why choose fatter tyres?
Well, because tyres in the range of 28-32mm have the capability to soak up the bumps along with other unexpected obstacles at night and are therefore definitely better than those racing tyres. These tyres aren’t as hard as the racing tyres and therefore would also make the whole ride a bit more comfortable.
Tip #4: Plan your Route in Advance
Yes, we did speak about choosing a well-lit road above already. But, by planning your route in advance we mean something else. You might be riding the bike at night just for fun or to get a few miles in or it may be a structured training session. It could literally be any reason but planning well in advance can prove to be useful. What you can do is choose a route and then ride it through the day time so that you get a bit familiar with it.
Also, you need to understand that riding your bike when it's pitch dark outside isn’t the best time to go on a 2 hour long ride. It might seem fascinating to go exploring during the night but honestly, that isn't the best option. Save that long ride for the weekend and pick a route that is short. A 1-hour session can be really effective if you are completely focused. You could even choose a short loop wherein you can ride several times so as to get some structure to your bike riding.
Choosing a course that is closer to your home would be great. This way you would be able to come back home in case anything happens (We aren’t scaring you. It’s just wise to remain prepared for the worse). Avoid roads that have a lot of obstructions like potholes as they can make the ride much more difficult. Even the safest of paths and protected lanes require caution during the night. Therefore, take enough time and research about the typical road conditions which might cause trouble at night.
Tip #5: Remain Attentive
The thought of riding a bike in broad daylight can scare a few people. Night bicycle riding is a whole new game as there might not be much traffic on the road but it becomes pretty difficult to assess what’s ahead. During the night, you need to be extra careful. In case you are riding at night for the very first time, it would be a wise option to go slow and remain cautious for all kinds of unexpected obstacles like speed breakers, potholes, bumps on the road and other similar barriers.
Going slow is the key and this would even protect you from injuries. Remain vigilant and you would be fine on the road.
Tip #6: Wear Clear Sunglasses or Safety Glasses
If you have been cycling for some time now, you may or may not own glasses meant for cycling. Even if you don’t own one, you might have seen it or must have definitely heard about those. If you own one, it most probably would be the one that has dark lenses and are meant for daytime riding so as to protect your eyes from the harsh sunlight. But, when you had visited the bike shop, you had also seen glasses that had rose-tented or clear lenses.
What are those for?
Well, they are meant for the cyclists who bike at night.
When it comes to glasses for the night bicycle rides, clear is the best option. The reason is simple – you would be able to see ahead clearly and your eyes would remain protected from the dust and debris. If you do not want to invest in cycling-specific glasses, you could even pick a cheap pair from the hardware or auto-parts store.
Tip #7: Ride in the Proper Direction
Riding in the wrong direction, be it during the day or at night, can be especially dangerous. If you are biking at night in the wrong direction, the oncoming headlights can make it difficult for you to see ahead. Ambient lights might be present but the headlights of the vehicle coming in your direction can cause your pupils to dilate. This, in turn, can make it unexpectedly strenuous to perceive the details in the darkness.
Also, when you are riding in the wrong direction, the drivers might not be able to notice you, especially at driveways and intersections. You might have reflective gears, but it is unlikely for the drivers to look or rather expect someone to be coming from the wrong direction especially during the night. Therefore, going with the flow of the traffic would be a logical thing to do.
Tip #8: Light Up Your Bike
Well, usual sagacity demands that you when you are biking at night, you must strap on it some lights. Similar to the vehicles, you would need to put bike lights so as to see the way ahead and let other vehicles know about your presence. White light would go in the front while red light would go in the back. A front headlight is required by the law anyway and is especially essential when you are riding in the dark.
You could use LED lights that have rechargeable batteries as they are inexpensive and light. However, they might not help much when it comes to illuminating the dark bike paths.To see the way ahead, you would need bicycle safety lights with high-power that are powered by rechargeable NIMH batteries.
Tip #9: Blinking Lights are Better
It is better to get lights that have a pulse setting. On the roads, there is a lot of ambient lighting present – lit up buildings, advertisements, cars, street lights etc, all of which draw the attention of the motorists. If you have blinking lights, it would help you to get noticed by the driver. When night bike riding on a separate path or a greenway, remember to take your light off the pulse setting and make it face towards the ground. If you do not do not do so, the light may get into the eyes of the fellow riders and blind them for some time.
Understand that it takes time to adjust the eyes to the dark and you do not want to be blinding the fellow cyclists and blinding them with the bike lights.
Tip #10: Ride With A Partner Or Group
When riding the bike at night, it would be sensible to go with a partner or a group. Not only would it be great from the safety point of view but would also provide you with the much-needed motivation required for heading out in the dark. Also, when there is more number of cyclists on the road, there are higher chances that you would be visible to the drivers on the road. It would also prove to be beneficial in case of any mechanical issues.
Tip #11: Stay Prepared For Mechanical Issues
You know what’s not fun? A mechanical issue that you would have to fix in the middle of the night. The very first step is to ensure that your bike is in perfect condition before you head you to bike at night. In case there are any bike or tire issues, you would be able to fix that. This would reduce the risk of any mishap happening when you are far away from your house.
Also, make it a point to carry a basic tool kit with you so that you can easily fix minor mechanical failures. Your tool kit must contain at least one spare inner tube, a reliable pump and a trusty multi-tool. Make it a point to carry your mobile phone when going on night bike rides. This way you would be able to call someone if you cannot fix the issue yourself and need help.
Tip #12: Pack your Bag Smartly
You might just be going for an hour or two but, you would definitely require a few things. For instance, packing a tool kit is a must. Other than that, rechargeable batteries for the light, a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated, one or two energy bars (to keep you going), a basic first-aid kit is a must.
Tip #13: Have Fun
Don’t forget to have fun. After all that we have mentioned and the night time surrounding, might make you feel intimidated. In fact, when you go for your very first-night bike ride, you might feel a bit strange. But, all you need to do is relax and take a deep breath.
When the sun goes down and twinkling lights takes, the views are truly enthralling. The roads would be much quieter and there would be lesser things to distract you. Once you get a taste of night bike ride, you might never want to stop. Have a friend accompany or join a cycling group who ride during the night and you would surely have an enjoyable experience.
Bike riding at night can truly amaze you. All you need to do is be confident and have the right attitude. This way you would be able to conquer your fears (in case you are terrified of the darkness). Just make sure that you have the appropriate gear, are following all the safety norms, are cautious and are going slow. If you have followed all of the tips, get ready to have an amazing ride.