With Daylight Savings Time behind us, it getting dark a lot earlier. This means it’s that time again – our annual “Light up the Night” blog post! Even though we put out a riding at night post every year, I don’t want you to think that this post is pro-forma. We write this annual post because being visible matters. A lot.
At the very least, use a front and rear light. Massachusetts law requires that you have a front light and rear reflector, but a rear light is even better. Usually lights come in pairs anyway. When picking out lights for your bike, it is 25% about seeing where you’re going and 75% about being seen by others on the road.
After dark, it’s important to make sure motorists can see you way before they get near you. I usually know to turn my lights on by the street lights coming on. As law states you must light up your bike no later than 30 minutes after sundown.
Lights are too expensive, you say? Well, if you are a MassBike Member, be sure to check out our bike shop partners who will give you a discount on bike gear.
Installing both a front and rear light is a great first step, but why stop there? When you go through an intersection, it’s equally important to be visible from the sides. Here are our suggestions for what else you need to light up the night:
- 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 more visibility.
- Reflective Clothing: Examples include bicycling-specific jackets with day-glo accents and or a construction worker-style 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 if you might forget a vest or jacket at home. There are also great lights that can be added to your spokes or bike frame that are both a bit more fun and eye catching then traditional wheel reflectors.
- Reflective, But Fashionable If you’re afraid of not being quite chic enough, then not to worry! There is a clear reflective spray paint that they produce that can make anything light up. Also check out some of these more “Cycle Chic” reflective options.
You wouldn’t drive a car after dark without lights, so why would you ride a bike that way? Remember, you don’t get extra points for being a bike ninja. Be seen and stay safe!