Winter is approaching and the nights are already dark. If you are training for some big rides (like this one) then cycling in the dark is inevitable if you want to maintain your fitness or stick to a training program.
So first things first let’s cover the basics. The UK has a laws on what you must have as a legal minimum when cycling at night. These are:
- 1 front white light
- 1 rear red light
- Front and rear reflectors –that come as standard on bikes anyway
Once you have covered the above minimum’s it’s time to do anything you can to increase the enjoyment and safety of night time riding so here are out top tips:
Cycle in a group
Cycling at night in a group really helps to improve safety and fun. Firstly the more cyclists there are the more bike lights and reflective clothing there is collectively.
The bike lights help to light up the road and with 4 or more bike lights you will have really good visibility to avoid those all-important pot holes.
Secondly cycling in a pack makes you much more visible to other traffic and it’s also much harder for the cars to do some dangerous overtaking.
Wear reflective clothing
Reflective clothing really helps to improve your road visibility to traffic when you are cycling. High-viz clothing works well in low light levels but if you are cycling in total darkness this won’t help you to be seen.
The key is to get a cycling jacket and a pair of tights that have reflective strips all over them. This means when traffic is coming at you their car lights will reflect light back off from your clothing making you light up like a beacon.
Get some decent lights
When cycling in the dark you are required by law to have a front and rear light. We would always suggest you buy the best bike lights you can afford. If you have cheap lights in some situations they won’t really make any difference at all.
When choosing lights it depends on whether you want to see or be seen. If you are cycling along unlit roads then you want to see and should opt for bike lights with higher lumens.
Stick to known routes
To increase your safety stick to routes that you know well. When cycling in the dark your visibility is reduced and if you already remember where the potholes are on your favourite route it makes them easier to spot when it’s dark.
Don’t cycle in the gutter
If you can cycle in the middle of your lane at night. If you cycle in the gutter at night you may find yourself hitting an unseen pothole or riding over glass or a big branch.
Equally by sitting in the middle of a lane it stops vehicles from overtaking you too closely and gives you a bit or room should a car get a little too close for comfort.