Cycling in the dark can seem daunting, but if you take precautions to minimise the risk it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re commuting at the crack of dawn or cycling at night for fitness purposes, the dark shouldn’t put the brakes on your riding.
With the right equipment and a good head on you, you should feel confident whilst cycling in the dark. Most importantly, you should enjoy it – after all, it’s better than tediously counting down the minutes on a static bike in the gym.
Here are our top 7 safety tips for safe cycling at night…
1. Use bike lights
By UK law, you need to have a white light at the front of your bike and a red one at the rear when cycling at night.
Sadly, we don’t have a ‘starry night’ glow in the dark cycle path like in the Netherlands. Therefore, bike lights are essential if you want to see where you’re going and be visible to others. It also gives motorists an idea of the direction in which you’re travelling.
It’s good to get in the habit of taking spare lights out with you, so you have back-up if they fail. Our top picks are the Cateye Sync Kinetic Rear Light, which syncs to your smartphone app, and the Bontrager Flare RT2 Rear Light, which auto-adjusts to adapt to the brightness around you.
2. Use reflective items
Again, visibility is key to ensuring safety when cycling at night. A lot of cyclists don’t know this, but it’s a legal requirement in the UK to have amber reflectors on bike pedals between sunset and sunrise. On that note, you should purchase reflective items such as clothing, pedals, ankle bands, arm straps… and maybe even reflective wheel stripes for good measure.
When deciding what clothing to buy, it’s important to see how it’ll look when it’s dark. Tredz has written an article on the best high vis cycling jackets which provides some excellent insights on how these jackets can improve your visibility.
When it comes to bike pedals and ankle bands, a simple Google search will give you plenty of low-cost choices. It isn’t important which you go for, so long as they do the job.
3. Travel at a safe speed
In the darkness, you can only see as far as your bike lights illuminate, which makes travelling at a high speed more dangerous.
At 10mph, your stopping distance is about 6 metres. This distance roughly doubles for every 5mph faster you travel and rises even more in wet conditions. That’s why it’s important to go slower, so that if something suddenly enters your line of vision you have enough time to stop.
4. Position yourself carefully
Unsurprisingly, you’re more visible to a driver when directly in front of their car. If you’re parallel to the car, right next to it or behind it, you risk being in their blind spot. Even if you’re in their peripheral vision, you run the risk of not being seen.
That’s why you should ride at least a metre from the edge of the road to ensure you’re noticeable. It also means if you swerve, you won’t fall into a bush or crash into the kerb.
5. Plan your journey
Planning ahead will help you determine your safest route. Going on a shorter ride that you’re familiar with is ideal at night because you’ll already know the road. This means you can anticipate twists and turns in the road, are more aware of bad surfaces and know where potholes are located.
There are plenty of helpful smartphone apps out there like Bike Hub Cycle and Journey Planner which can help you plan your ride. Cycling UK’s journey planner is great as well.
6. Ride with others
If possible, cycle with other people when it’s dark. This will make you more visible and will ensure that you’ll have help if you have a maintenance problem at the side of the road. Ultimately, there’s safety in numbers.
On top of having appropriate gear and taking the necessary precautions, cycling insurance is vital to ensure you’re safe on the road.
Our specialist cycling insurance means you’ll be covered against injuries and your bike and accessories will be covered against damage, theft, or loss – whether you’re out riding or at home.
Get an online quote today and see what we can do for you.