7 Life-Saving Tips for Cycling at Night

Cycling at night

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It’s not our job to ham up riding at night, but there are a few precautions that you can take to make cycling in the dark safer and ultimately more enjoyable.

It’s not all lights, lights, lights, and more lights, either. Okay, some of our tips mention lights, but the last one certainly doesn’t.

Type of light for cycling at night

Choose the Right Sort of Lights When Cycling at Night

If you plan to ride a bike at night, just plumping for any old set of bike lights is not the answer. A bicycle light can mean the difference between life and death in the dark, so there’s no point in buying the first pair of lights you come across on an internet search, even if it saves you a few bucks.

Buying the right sort of lights is a “horses for courses” scenario. If you’re riding on unlit roads, then you’re going to need to buy some more powerful lights – especially the front.

Conversely, if you cycle in more built-up areas, those routes will likely have streetlights. This means that you won’t need to buy more powerful and therefore more expensive lights.

These days, most bike lights have multiple settings, from various brightness levels to different flashing options.

In our opinion, a set of lights with multiple flashing settings is more important in towns and cities, where multiple light sources are usually flashing here, there, and everywhere.

Think of it like this. Bike lights are either ‘to see’ or ‘to be seen’.

extra light when cycling at night

Have a Set of Backup Lights When Cycling at Night

Trust us on this one; we’ve been caught out before. Either having two sets of lights on your bike or even just a spare set in your rucksack or pannier bag, is a very, very sensible idea. It’s easy to forget to charge a set of bike lights, leaving you high and dry.

Sometimes, they fail you for no good reason at all. Ultimately, having a backup set of lights could be a life-saving tip for cycling at night.

correct angle of light when cycling at night

Position Your Lights Correctly When Cycling at Night

Now that we’ve got the proper set of lights and a spare set should the worst happen, it’s time to make sure they’re fitted correctly.

What we mean by this is ensuring they are placed in a position that enables them to perform. Get the angle right so it shines in the correct direction. Mount the bike lights securely to ensure they don’t swing around.

another type of light

Get Creative with Lights When Cycling at Night

Now, here’s a fun one. Getting creative with extra bike lights can aid bikers’ visibility when riding at night. Add extra lights to your bags, bike wheels, or even clip them to your body! These extra touches of light are designed to grab the attention of other riders as you ride along, so don’t consider them the sort of light ‘to see’ with.

While some people think adding extra novelty lights to your bike is, at best, unnecessary and, at worse, victim blaming, we think it is a handy tip.

Our favorite type of extra bike light is the helmet bike light. Some options have a forward-facing white light and a rearward-facing red light – two lights in one.

The real benefit of a helmet bike light is that it shines wherever your head is looking – great for busy intersections, when starting and stopping, as well as attracting the attention of pedestrians and other road users.

reflective gear when cycling at night

Reflective and Fluorescent is the Winning Recipe for Cycling at Night

With the lights out of the way, it’s time to look at the other element of visibility when riding at night – making yourself stand out. The recipe we like to use when riding at night is a combination of reflectivity and fluorescent items.

When riding just as it is going dark, fluro items, that’s, those that are brightly colored (usually bright yellow or orange), are great – it helps you be seen a mile off. But as street and car lights start to take effect, it’s the reflectivity on clothing that helps you be seen. These days there are loads of clothing choices out there, plenty that combine both fluro and reflectivity. There are even some more innovative options that, when in daylight, look like perfectly regular clothing.

look drivers in the eye when cycling at night

Look Other Road Users in the Eye

As your confidence in riding a bike at night increases, your senses become attuned to dangerous situations. That driver that perhaps hasn’t seen you coming, that driver that really shouldn’t be overtaking you from behind.

While there’s not much that you can do about the latter, there’s certainly something you can do about the former, but only in the case if the driver is stationary at an intersection or something similar. If it’s safe to do so and you feel confident, look directly at the driver and try to attract their attention. On more than one occasion, we’ve managed to prevent impending doom by catching the attention of a driver with a look.

Whether there’s any science in this kind of thing, we’re not sure. Perhaps it’s something deeply rooted inside us humans or something a little less prosaic; there’s no harm in giving it a go—anything really, to make cycling at night safer.

know your route when cycling at night

Know Your Route When Cycling at Night

This one is our last tip, but it might be the most important. Make sure you know the lighting situation on your route and be ready to switch up your usual commute or training ride to include more street lights if needed.

Also, don’t forget to adjust your position on the road. Ride a bit more towards the middle of the road than you normally would, so you’re in the driver’s line of sight, particularly if your ride involves routes in the country with hedges and trees obscuring things. Plus, this way, you can dodge potholes and obstacles better.

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