Riding at night can be a joyful experience but whether you are riding on lit roads in the city or dark country lanes you need to be properly prepared. Fundamentals like lights are a given but there are a few extra steps you can take to ride safely.
The top tips to remember:
- Plan your route
- Use the correct lights
- Add reflective equipment
- Ride with others
- Wrap up warm
- Have fun
Let’s take a closer look at these top tips:
1/ Plan your route
Before you do anything, you should ideally plan and notify someone of your route. Riding a familiar route is always reassuring, knowing where the next pothole is, bend in the road or junction you need to turn at. Even if it is a route you know it is perfectly acceptable to ride that bit slower to ensure you get round in one piece.
At night there are often fewer people around to spot you if you have a mechanical or have injured yourself. Notifying someone of where your route is will mean someone can ensure you get home safely.
2/ Use the correct lights
Depending on the route you pick will depend on the type of lights you will require. If you are planning to ride through a well-lit road in town you will require lights that will help you be seen by others. Using lights with around 20-200 lumens is a good guide for city night riding. It is especially important in situations like these that you do not dazzle other road users, a brighter light can dazzle other road users, potentially leading to accidents.
If your route is going to be a bit more rural then you will need a light to help you see the road ahead. Using a light anywhere from 200-1000 lumens will give you greater warning of broken tarmac, potholes and the route ahead. Make sure your lights are fully charged before you set off or bring extra batteries with you to ensure you don’t run out.
It’s important when setting your lights up that you mount them in the correct position. Too low and you’ll be illuminating your front wheel or too high and you’ll be lighting up the night sky. Aiming above the front wheel about 5-10 metres will help you guide your way along dark winter roads.
3/ Add reflectives
Adding reflective gear to your bike and clothing provides another safety measure to ensure you are seen at night. Wearing a high viz cycling jacket will give a larger reflective surface area for other road users to see. Even wearing high viz gloves, helmets or shoe covers can all provide extra visibility and warmth too.
It is thought that the up and down motion from pedalling can catch the eye of other road users more than a reflective stripe across your back. Considering this you can add reflective pedals, wheel reflectors or overshoes to help you stand out more.
4/ Ride with others
Safety in numbers is good no matter what the conditions you are riding in. Riding with a friend or group is a good way to approach night riding. Whether it’s a colleague riding home with you or a club spin at night an extra pair of eyes on the road is very beneficial.
5/ Wrap up warm
Staying warm is paramount when out on those winter rides, layering up is the best way to stay nice and toasty. Putting on a base layer is a simple yet effective way to trap a nice warm layer of air between you and the piece of clothing. Changing to long sleeve fleece clothing will help keep your whole body warm too but always remember that too many layers are better than not enough as you can always take layers off again.
Check the weather before you head out to make sure you know what to bring in case of an emergency. Packable waterproof jackets are ideal for when rain is forecast, simply fold them up and slide them into your back pocket. Putting on full-finger winter gloves and even putting on overshoes will help to keep your extremities nice and warm. It will also help to keep your feet pedalling and fingers alert on the brakes.
6/ Have fun
Don’t be scared when out at night, it can be a daunting task heading out to get those miles up but riding at night can be fun and feel good for your physical and mental health too. Be safe when out at night and just enjoy the ride.