On Sunday, November 3rd we “Fall Back” to Standard Time. For those of us that are still riding our bikes, it means we will be riding in the dark more often and we may have to contend with more difficult road surface conditions.
One of the most important aspects of safe cycling is being visible and so there are a few things cyclists need to consider now that mornings are darker and daylight hours are fewer.
- It’s time to light up. The rules are that cyclists must have a white or amber light on the front of their bikes and a reflector on the rear, however reflectors don’t really provide the kind of visibility that you need to be seen. LED lights not only greatly improve your visibility, but are relatively inexpensive. There are lots of options, all better than a simple reflector.
- Make sure to consider how and/or where you mount your rear light. Many cyclists like to simply attach these lights to their backpacks, however this often reduces the effectiveness and visibility of the light. If the light is not solidly attached it may not in fact be directed back at the cars behind you. As well, if you mount the light to the top of your backpack, unless you are cycling in a fairly vertical position, the light may not be as visible as it could be. Consider attaching the light to your bike so that it is always clearly visible to traffic behind you.
Small “turtle lights” can be quite visible when used properly. Dangling them off the bottom of you backpack or seat is better than nothing, but not by much. If you are going to use these small convenient lights. attach them to your bike and have them facing directly where you want them to be seen.
A solid white light is great for seeing where you are going, but may not be that visible to the drivers as you are approaching. Adding a second light that can be set to blink mode will improve your visibility.
- You may be all lit up, but you should still ensure that both you and your bike are reflective as well. Make sure to have a rear reflector or other reflective material on the back of your bike just in case your rear light should stop working (dead batteries). You should also consider having reflective material on your clothing including reflect ankle bands. The constant motion of these reflective bands as they go up and down is somewhat unusual and thus highly visible to drivers.
We don’t have snow covering the streets yet, but it is important to be aware of road conditions such as frozen puddles and wet leaves. For more information on riding through the fall check out our blog.
Thinking of riding through the winter as well? Check out our cycling through winter tips.