When days get shorter, it’s a good time to remind ourselves how to cycle safely at night. For those commuting by bike or doing post-work cycling training out on the roads, it’s important to be as safe as possible to avoid accidents.
Here we share our top tips for cycling safely at night.
5 tips for cycling safely at night
1. Be highly visible
Driving a car at night is hard work on your eyes, particularly on busy roads or in a city. Cyclists need to be aware that at night, those driving cars are dealing with a lot of light stimulus from all around them and that if the cyclist isn’t clearly visible, accidents can happen. For this reason, it is a legal requirement to use front and rear lights when cycling on roads at night.
But, you can go further, and you should go further.
We suggest that, as well as having front and rear lights, you should also use reflectors on your helmet, shoes, gloves (for indicating) and any bags you are carrying. You can also use high-vis clothing where possible, even if you may look like a builder! It’s better to be visible than cool. However, reflectors on parts of the body which you move (eg. shoes, helmet and hands) are proven to be better as the movement is easily-visible.
If you are cycling out on country roads at night, you must use different lights for the road. This is because they are usually unlit by street lamps. You need to use more powerful lights that actually show you the road ahead of you. These can have an effect on the vision of drivers coming the other way, so easily-adjustable lights are a must. A good idea is to use a helmet light, as it lights up your field of vision and can be easily adjusted.
The Styrkr team usually use a mix of lights, one flashing and one stationary to make themselves as visible as possible at night, as well as helmet lights and reflectors. (So far, so good…)
Another idea is to cycle a little further in the road and away from the pavement so that drivers can see you better. But don’t cycle in the middle. You should also indicate your intentions as clearly and as early as possible.
2. Choose the right route
If you’re commuting daily, find a well-lit route for your ride, preferably on cycle lanes if the town or city has them. If you’re night training, it’s a good idea to find a circuit that you can stick to so that it becomes as familiar as possible.
3. Slow down
It’s better to be on the side of caution and slow your pace a little at night. If the road becomes pitch-black, it's a good idea to get off your bike and walk on the pavement or at the very side of the road. No need to take unnecessary risks.
4. Inform others
It’s good to let someone know that you’re cycling at night just so that they can check in on you if you fail/forget to contact them.
5. The right Clothes
Darker nights usually go hand-in-hand with colder weather. As winter draws in, you can expect a fair bit of rain and cold-winds too (joy). Although cycling improves your immunity a great deal, we still recommend wearing the right kit for the winter months. NB. If the weather is hazardous, don’t cycle.
If you are highly visible, plan your route and ride cautiously, cycling safely at night is perfectly achievable, and should be no cause for concern.