Now that the summer is coming to an end and the winter is starting to emerge, the nights are beginning to get shorter and darker quicker. For those cyclists who regularly cycle in the evenings, possibly home from work, will soon notice the difference in the number of daylight hours and you may be riding in the dark sooner than you think.
When the evenings become darker there are several things you need to consider in order to keep yourself safe.
Lights – These are possibly the most important thing to remember when you start cycling in the evenings. Many people would have forgotten about these during the summer months as they haven’t had to use them. Some more expensive bikes such as Specialized bikes, will not have any kind of light attached due to the fact they are usually custom built. However now that the winter is approaching, you need to ensure that you have lights and they are in proper working order before setting off just in case you get caught out and it gets dark. The lights attached to your bike should not only light your way but be highly visible to drivers in order to keep you safe. You should have the brightest white light on the front usually attached between the handlebars, and a red light on the rear usually found just under the seat. Nowadays the lights available come with at least three different functions enabling it to be on constantly on or flash in a variety of ways.
Using reflectors – Most bikes will already come with reflectors attached, however if you have built a custom bike, such as Marin bikes or even Whyte bikes you may find these are missing. You should at least have a rear reflector and reflectors on each pedal. If you have been consistently using your bike over the summer then these will probably be covered in dust and dirt. Reflectors only work if they are completely clean so as the light from headlights can be reflected. They are next to useless if they are not clearly visible or clean. These act as a support to the lights you should already have attached to cycle at night.
Night cycling tips – When cycling at night or at dusk, it is important to remember you are not as clearly visible as you were in the summer. This means taking extra precautions to prevent yourself from coming into trouble or even being involved in a collision. Wearing black clothes is not recommended when riding in the evenings or at night. This is because you are far less visible to any driver approaching you.
You also need to take extra care when riding on roads, using junctions and especially using rural roads with no street lights. Drivers at night will not be looking out for you so to them, you may spring up out of nowhere. You should aim to stay on the correct side of the road at all times and be very wary of cars at junctions. Another thing to consider is that you may be caught in rainy conditions. During the winter the weather changes fairly quickly so it is important to at least carry a thin waterproof to put on over your clothes in case of a downpour.