5 Ways cyclists can keep safe as the nights get darker
By Ferenc Boroczky - 25.10.2020 - Company
The clocks have gone back, signalling shorter daylight hours and months of feeling like being in perpetual darkness. Increasing COVID infection rates means ongoing restriction in movement around cities, which in some ways is great news for cyclists as the roads should be less congested and possibly a bit safer.
This week, we look at how two-wheeled road users can remain safe in the coming darker nights.
Tips to keep safe as the nights get darker
- Road mastery: While you might use the same cycle routes all the time, things can look different at night. Knowing the route like the back of your hand, even in the dark, can be a life saver. Also avoid riding too close to pavements as it can encourage cars to overtake you when it might not be safe to do so. Finally, always ride defensively as drivers aren’t always looking for cyclists at night, and can’t always see them.
- Lights on: While central areas can be well lit, it’s likely that your cycle route will cut through roads and lanes that have bad lighting or no lighting at all. The wintry nights can be further exacerbated by fog or rain, reducing visibility for everyone. Ensure your bike’s front light is bright enough to show potholes and other hazards that can be obscured in the dark. Also ensure a working rear light bright enough for vehicles behind you to see you in the road. Lastly, ensure you carry backup lights just in case the lights run down.
- Reflectors: Riding in the dark can be a huge risk but this can be lessened in a few simple ways. Attach reflective strips to pedals, overshoes, mudguards, handlebars, helmets as well as wearing reflective tops. Not to forget ankle bands - these are all ways to be as lit and visible as four-wheeled vehicles tend to be at night.
- Toolkit for emergencies: There isn't much room on a bike to carry more than yourself but having a few tools to enable you to fix most mechanical failures can be a life saver. Consider carrying spare inner tubes, a tyre boot, pump and multi-tool. Check the tyres and brakes, clean and lube the bike’s drivetrain and adjust the tyre pressure as required ahead of every major bike journey. If you can, carry a small first aid kit and powerpack for your mobile phone in case of any emergency.
- Physical road-worthiness: In the same way we are told not to drive tired, it’s worth considering how fatigued you might be before you get on your bike. Cycling is physically demanding and if you are feeling unwell, tired or under the influence of drink or drugs, you put yourself at greater risk especially on a dark night. Consider delaying your journey if possible or take the train or an uber if you can.
"If you think safety rules are a pain. Try having an accident"
As a vulnerable road user, these simple tips can ensure safer night riding in the coming months - be visible, be well and be prepared for emergencies.