There might not be a better place in the world to go biking at night than South Florida.
With its beautiful beaches and boardwalks next to the water that glistens underneath the moon as you’re gliding by, it’s easy to get distracted by the scenery. While there’s nothing more enjoyable than an evening ride, you’ve got to remember that its dangerous out there too.
The sad truth is that many cyclists are hit by cars at night, oftentimes resulting in serious injuries and even death. It’s true that typically the drivers are the ones at fault. But, it mught be a good time to check yourself for what safety precaustions you have in place to prevent accident or injury.
Today, we’re going to help you prioritize your safety with eight health and safety tips for biking at night. Some of them are so simple that they could have slipped your mind, while others are more intense. However, there’s nothing too intense when it comes to ensuring your safety when cycling.
1. Always Wear Your Helmet
As an adult, you shouldn’t have to be told to wear your helmet when cycling at any hour. One bad turn and you could be on the ground. If your head isn’t protected, your chances of a bad concussion or something much worse, go up significantly.
There a helmet that you will love, out there somewhere. Helmet technology has progressed to the point that you can find anything to fit comfortably on your head for a reasonable price.
Be sure your helmet is fitted properly. Check that it is on the correct way by looking in a mirror and ensuring that it coveres your forehead, and is secure and snug all the way around the back. You should be able to shake your head and bend over without the helmet moving or shifting.
2. Have Your Lights ON, Front and Rear.
In addition to a headlamp on your helmet, you should have good flashing LED lights on the back of your bike and on your ankles so that cars can see you as they approach from behind or are heading in your direction. Riding in the night can be extremely soothing, but try telling that to the car that speeds up behind you out of the dark.
It’s illegal to cycle without lights in most states, so if you’re caught doing it, you’ll be stuck with a hefty ticket. In terms of safety, the rear flashing lights are better than static lights because other people are able to track your movements. You’ll need a strong static light for the front of your bike that has a battery life that exceeds your commute or workout time between charges.
Be sure you have at least 1,500 lumens light so that is bright enough to luminate your entire field of vision.
3. Tuck Loose Clothes In
T-shirts, jackets, and baggy pants are always at risk of catching on your pedals or spokes, which might result in you having an unexpected fall. Keep all of your clothing tucked away so they are not flapping around.
Even better, buy cycling appropriate clothes so that you don’t have to worry about tucking anything in. Many cycling clothing outfitters have even designed urban clothing sto fit tightly and accomodate a cyclists needs. Bring a change of clothes in a backpack if you need to change out of cycling clothing into your outfit of the day.
4. Wear Reflective and Bright Clothing
Fabric technology has improved and has been produced to incorporate reflective material. There are also add on pieces for your ankles or that wrap aroud your body which are sold at any bike shop or outdoor store.
This reflective material will brighten and flicker when a vehicle’s lights flash on it, giving them long-range visibility and the ability to react to your movements.
5. Go With Someone
Bringing a buddy along for your nighttime rides is recommended for a multitude of safety reasons. Safety in numbers, is the old addage that still applies today. If your ride takes you off the beaten path, you are less likely to get lost with a buddy.
Should anything bad happen, like getting clipped by a car or skidding over some rocks, a cycling buddy will be there to call for help or take down a license plate number.
A sad truth of nighttime cycling is that when drivers strike cyclists, a lot of time they don’t realize what’s happened and just continue driving. More sinister drivers might even do a hit-and-run. If you’re alone and hurt out there, it might be a while before you can get help.
6. Know Your Route
When you go biking at night, you should only take a route that you’re familiar with from taking during the day. Taking a path that you haven’t seen before could present a different set of problems.
You might come across some obstacles or strange turns that could throw you off if you’re going too fast. Seeing the route during the day first will prepare you for twists and turns that might otherwise surprise you.
7. Always Maintain Your Bike
If you’re keen on cycling at night, make sure that your bike is in good shape before you leave. Check the tires riding surface and sidewalls, lights, and brakes. You don’t want to run into a situation where you need to pump your tire in the middle of nowhere, in the dark.
Of course, accidents happen, so make sure to carry a portable bike care kit whenever you go for a ride. It might be the difference between a quick tire patch and walking back home with your bike in your hands.
8. Obey Traffic Laws
Lastly, but most importantly, bike safely. It’s especially important to obey traffic laws and take it a bit slower at night. Since there are fewer cars on the road at night, you might feel like you can get away with more, but that’s how accidents happen.
A rule of thumb is to act as if the cars can’t see you. In most cases, they aren’t paying attention or thinking about biker in their commute.
When you have a bike lane available, stay on it. If there isn’t one, ride as far to the right as possible but beware of cars approaching from behind. If you are luminated well enough cars should slow and yield to give you 3 feet of space. IT’S THE LAW.
Biking at Night Can Be Dangerous
Biking at night can be very dangerous, so follow these tips closely and remember that if you get hurt, you can take action. If you’re injured in a biking accident, contact us at Vivo Law. We specialize in handling biking accidents and we’ll make sure that your case is taken seriously.