12 Tips for Taking a Bike Ride at Night
Biking to work in the wee hours of the morning? Or just looking to get out on the weekends for some night life? While cycling is generally done during the day, there are steps you can take to make a night ride more safe.
Prepare for your first night bike ride with these beginner tips and must-have bike accessories. From adding the right lights to your bike to wearing reflective gear, make sure you are seen to avoid an unwanted accident.
Add Lights to Your Bike
Adding lights to your bike is an absolute must when riding at night. When outfitting your bike, make sure you can see the road or path ahead and that nearby drivers and even pedestrians can see you coming. Here’s how to do so:
Add Lights in Appropriate Locations
There are three main lights you need:
- Handlebar light — Helps guide your way and make you visible to oncoming traffic.
- Helmet light — Casts light around your peripheral and helps you see areas when turning. An adjustable, waterproof headlamp makes a fantastic helmet light.
- Rear light — Makes the bike visible to drivers behind you.
Avoid Flashing Light Modes
While your handlebar light might have a flash mode, avoid using it at night. Aimed at a driver, it can be disorienting and cause an accident. This goes for bright lights in general. A good rule of thumb is to point the light toward the ground 20 feet ahead.
Carry a Backup Flashlight
In case one of your main lights goes, carry a backup like a rechargeable flashlight to help get you home. Make sure to charge it often, too!
Wear Proper Cycling Clothes
Not only should your bike be equipped, but your body should be, too! Here are some extra clothes and accessories to consider wearing during a night bike ride.
Since you’ll be biking at night when the temperatures can drop significantly, be sure to layer for warmth. Choose thermoregulating wool garments that can wick away moisture if you do break a sweat. Add some warmer accessories like wool socks and a beanie that can tuck beneath your helmet, too.
Reflective Gear and Tape
On a night bike ride, be sure to wear reflective clothing. A great way to accomplish this rather easily is to use reflective tape. Reflective tape can not only be applied to fenders, frames and other bike parts, but also to your own clothing. Be sure to add reflective tape to your helmet.
You should always wear a helmet biking, even in the daylight hours, but at night especially. Make sure to choose a suitable helmet that not only fits well, but offers extra accessories to make you more visible to traffic and other bikers, such as the aforementioned reflective tape.
Gloves and Glasses
You won’t need sunglasses at night, but some clear glasses can still protect your eyes from kicked-up debris or strong winds. Gloves can also protect your hands and keep them warm and nimble so you can operate gears.
Extra Storage Case
Even if you ride with a backpack, you still need to protect certain items from rain and other elements. For extra security, pack your phone, wallet and more valuable, fragile items in a Pelican personal utility case.
Ride Safely and Take Extra Precautions
Besides having the proper nighttime lighting equipment on your bike and dressing properly so you can stay warm and be seen, there are a few other safety precautions you can take.
Check Your Bike
Before you head out for a night bike ride, look over your bike. Make sure the chain is on correctly and the tires are pumped well. As a side note, for a night bike ride, choose a beater bike that’s sturdier and has wider tires that can take on potholes you may not see ahead of you.
Ride a Familiar Route
Like hiking a trail at night, you want to ensure you know precisely where you’re headed. Choose a local bike path that is well lit at night and around intersections. Otherwise, just make sure you know the route and have ridden it several times in the daylight hours to know it like the back of your hand.
Take it Slower
When taking a bike ride at night, take it slower! Obstacles that might be in your path are now much harder to see, so give yourself plenty of time to react and dodge them. Potholes are especially notorious for taking out bikers. Also, avoid hugging the curb and give yourself space on the road. While it seems courteous, allowing drivers room can create accidents, so don’t be afraid to give yourself enough room.
Ride with a Friend
Safety in numbers is a good thing and you can look out for each other on the road. Plus, if an accident occurs, you have assistance.