The arrival of winter brings shorter days, which means that nine times out of 10 you’re going to be commuting in the dark (and sometimes the very cold too). Your morning and afternoon ride will transform into an entire new experience under the blanket of darkness that winter brings, so here are a few tips to ensure you’re safe in the saddle through the coldest months.
Keep your wits about you
Cycling in the dark means that your vision will be tainted, which means you’re going to have to keep your wits about you and rely on your other senses. There will be moments where you will be forced to think and react faster than normal, even if you have a good set of lights, and being sensible and aware of your surroundings will help you. As you adapt to riding in the dark and increase your cat-like reflexes, you’ll become as nimble as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s bike-delivery character in the movie Premium Rush, which will influence your daylight cycling skills too!
Light it up
Flashing front and back lights should be mandatory, and will help to alert traffic around you of your presence. A bright headlamp with a strong beam will work to increase your vision and spot any nasty holes or obstructions that would be hidden in the shadows. Something like Lumaglo’s Wearable Break Light, a wearable sash of red LED lights that automatically alerts others around you when you slow down or stop (thanks to speed sensors synced to bright red rear LEDs) is a great way to communicate with fellow road users, and keep your upper body lit up.
We hope you like the eighties, because the brighter and more neon the hi-viz gear you wear, the more you will stand out. Black might be awesome to smooth over those love handles or give you that Batman-edge, but fluorescent clothing can dramatically decrease the risk of a traffic incident occurring. That horrendous neon, I-can’t-look-for-too-long yellow works best.
A moment of reflection
Reflective gear, specifically designed to illuminate and reflect light shone on it, is a great way of staying visible in traffic. Most brands include reflective panels and strips onto their gear nowadays, but always find out before you make the purchase. Buying reflective gear to put on your knees and feet can work to increase visibility even more, as they are constantly moving and will create a bright, whir of light when illuminated by passing cars.
Own the lane
If you’re commuting in an area that doesn’t have bikes lanes and you’re riding in traffic, don’t make the mistake of hugging the edge of the road. Not only will it make it harder for you to be spotted, but cars might also think they can “slip past” without having to take too wide a berth, which could lead to running you off the road or worse. When cycling at night, providing you’re lit up as bright as a Christmas tree with reflective gear or a Lumaglo Crossbelt, ride in the lane and own the space. Let drivers know you’re there and one of them.