Bicycling at Night? Use Lights and Reflectors!

With the days already growing shorter and Daylight Savings Time set to end on November 6, it’s time to prepare for riding in the dark. So, without further ado, here is 2011’s edition of the “Light Up Your Ride” blog post series.

The key to riding safely in low-light situations (such as foggy or rainy conditions or at dusk or night) is to see and, more importantly, be seen. Installing both a front and rear light is a great first-step (and required by MA law). But why stop there? It’s equally important to be visible from the sides and most light systems are not equipped to do so.

Here are some additional solutions to further light up your ride and avoid the dangerous ninja look:

Reflective or lighted ankle straps or pedal reflectors: Some pedals come with reflectors. While both types of ankle straps do double duty by keeping your pants away from your dirty chain, lighted ones provide incredible visibility.

Reflective Clothing: Examples include bicycling-specific jackets with day-glo accents and or a construction worker-styled vest. Both will provide the necessary sideways visibility with their neon colors and/or reflective striping.

Other Reflective Accessories: Wheel reflectors, reflective tires, and reflective tape and stickers that can go on almost any part of your bicycle are other options, especially for those known to forget a vest or jacket at home.

Remember, if you don’t already own a front, white light and a rear, red light, it’s time to purchase some now!  Your local bicycle store is well-equipped with lights and other safety gear so stop by and get equipped today.

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3 Responses to Bicycling at Night? Use Lights and Reflectors!

  1. Rebecca Albrecht October 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Try monkeylectric lights that combine fun & visibility. http://www.monkeylectric.com/
    Tape on your bike frame battery operated stings of Christmas lights that could be found in the Christmas lighting display area at Home Depot last year, (hopefully they’ll have them again this year) and you’ll love going out in the dark!

  2. steve October 22, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    i posted this a couple of days ago, then realized i was commenting on a blog post from 2 years ago. sorry for the repost; hope this is more current:

    there are no better lights out there for road riding and commuting than those made by dinottelighting.com in NH. pricey, but worth every penny. the brightest thing out there; cars routinely wait to pass until the oncoming lane is clear, then pass by changing lanes. oncoming traffic pulls over to the right and slows down. i’ve had motorcycle drivers slow down next to me and say, “awesome lights!”. at intersections, drivers roll down their windows to compliment the brightness of these lights. when traffic is slow and i’m passing on the right, cars move over to the left to allow me by. I command instant attention at intersections and road zones controlled by law enforcement.

    reflectors and reflective clothing are not enough to account for drivers who wait too long to turn on their lights in the evening, or for vehicles in which no one is actually driving (smartphone drivers), or drivers who are toking up (much more common then you might think. with proper lights, you can engage the driver’s attention from further away (even from around corners with dinottes), and have them start their calculation about whether you can be safely passed that much sooner.

    i’ve been a passenger in cars that are overtaking bicycles with the types of lights that are commonly available on the market; the impression they leave is underwhelming to say the least. if there are other cars in front of you, the cyclist is not even visible in many situations until you are right on top of them. with dinotte taillights in particular, you are creating a huge loom of red light that extends 50-60 feet behind you and vertically as well. your presence on the road is obvious even if you are not in the direct line-of-sight of approaching drivers.

    these lights tell drivers that you are serious about using the public roads, that you take safety seriously and demand consideration and respect.

    sorry if this is too much of an advertisement, but if you value your safety out there, there is no better investment to make, IMHO.

  3. Merrill Gay October 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I’ve been very happy with the 900 lumen MagicShine head light that I got for about $90. I has three brightness levels plus flashing and a rechargeable lithium battery pack.