Top Tips for Cycling in the Dark
Don’t pack your bike away just because the sun has set. Get some reflective and hi-vis cycle wear and some decent lights and enjoy the exhilarating experience of night time cycling. Here are our top tips for embracing the darkness.
Winter riding is all about visibility. We’re big advocates of Daytime Running Lights and during the darker months, this is even more relevant. Whether you’re cycling during the day or at night, switch your lights on.
Your front light should be bright enough to light up the road several feet in front so that you can see potholes and other hazards and a flashing backlight will catch the eye of other road users and help to differentiate you from the brake lights and rear lights of cars and vans.
In addition to front lights, you can Go Go Gadget with light-up helmets, spoke lights, glow bands and even bike balls which dangle off your seat! Can you have too many lights? We’re channelling Blackpool!
But do be mindful of how bright your lights are. Whilst you want to see and be seen, don’t get carried away with your lumens and blind other road users.
Hi vis and fluorescent cycling jackets and jerseys will help you to be seen on the road. Most cycling jackets and jerseys will also have additional reflective details which will all increase your chances of being seen on dull days and before dusk. One of the best places for reflective elements and high vis colours is on your lower leg or foot because movement is key to catching the attention of the human eye, so wearing shoe covers or bib tights with hi vis or reflective detailing on the lower leg will make you stand out to other road users much more effectively.
There’s a host of reflective accessories and garments available. If you're going down the fully reflective garment route, try to find gear that’s still breathable and wicking or you can end up boiled alive in your cycle wear.
Winter and nighttime cycling can benefit from a bit more planning and it can be a good idea to switch up your regular rides and plan routes in better-lit areas or on roads with decent surfaces or less traffic.
It might seem like an obvious thing to say but keeping your eyes and ears open is even more important when cycling in the dark.
Be alert to seasonal hazards such as fallen leaves, frost, damaged road surfaces and puddles that might be hiding potholes etc.
Make sure you have a plan B – just in case. Always carry an extra layer - we call it the ‘get out of trouble layer’ and it can be a gilet or a packable jacket that’s there just in case you get stuck mending a tyre or if you have to wait for assistance. Packable layers are also great for the post-ride pub stop if you need a bit of extra warmth. For long rides, consider a backup light and a snack or two - you never know!
Despite commuting apart, it’s always nicer to ride with a mate and there’s definitely safety in numbers. Plus riding with a group of friends is a great way of motivating each other to get out more often and you’ll have someone to gossip with.
Whether you have a cycling buddy or not, make sure someone knows where you’re going and that your phone’s fully charged.
Send a message to a friend or family member, telling them what route you are taking and roughly how long that route will take. Then, if you get lost or stuck, someone will know where to find you.
There’s something quite magical about cycling in the dark, so let the stress and worry melt away and focus on you and your cycling.
Have we missed a top tip? Comment your top tips for cycling in the dark in the comment section below!