I know you’ve already heard a hundred times that to cycle at night you must have a good set of lights. However, we all make simple mistakes, so I thought I’d share some useful tips for cycling safely at night or in situations of poor visibility.
Use lights that can be seen at least 200 metres away
This may seem overly cautious, but think about an Olympic sprinter; they can cover this distance in 20 seconds or less. Compare an Olympic sprinter to a car, and clearly, there’s not a lot of time for a driver to react.
Check that your batteries are charged
Before heading off, check that your batteries have enough charge. Don’t wait until the battery runs out to change or recharge them.
Avoid blocking your lights
I’d always advise people to attach their tail light to their bike at the right angle so that it’s always visible. A good place to put it is at the rear part of the seat, at a suitable height. If you place it too close to the seat or under the seat it may be inadvertently covered with your clothes or backpack without even realizing it.
Another good tip to make yourself visible on the streets is using reflectors on your bike or on your clothes. Nowadays there are clothes specially designed for the urban cyclist that are made up of reflective material
A quick warning; fluorescent is not the same as reflecting! Fluorescent colored clothes are quite striking during the day, but at night they’re much less visible.
Always be alert
Even if you have already equipped yourself with the latest in lights and reflective clothing don’t lose focus! You have to watch out for other cyclists and the conditions of the road to avoid accidents.
Distance isn’t important
There’s a myth that to travel by bike you need to have superhuman fitness or be a born adventurer. The truth is you can venture as far as you want, as long as you go at your own pace. On top of this, there’s always ideal destinations to be found just outside the city limits, so go find them!
Plan your route
One of the great things about cycling is that it’s not only the destination that’s important but the journey itself. Have a look at the alternative routes through which you can reach your destination and choose the most attractive. And remember, it’s not illegal to make use of other modes of transport! Sometimes, due to time or difficult terrain, you’ll need to jump a bus or a train for a part of the journey and that’s OK!
Learn the basics of bike repair
You don’t need to be a certified bike mechanic, but you’ll save yourself some major headaches if you learn the basics, like dealing with the most common setback (a puncture).
I know one of the great things about cycling is that we can clear our heads by doing it alone. But for a first trip away I’d recommend having some company. Preferably you can get someone with some experience to accompany you, but this isn’t essential. Just make sure to have fun and look out for each other!
I hope you’ve found these tips useful and they help you enjoy your nocturnal cycling sessions with safety!