Cycling in the Dark Has Its Own Additional Risks
Winter time means shorter days and increasingly dark mornings and evenings which leaves very little time for day-lit leisure, particularly for those of us who are working during the best period of the day.
Despite this, cycling in the dark can have its benefits, the most important of which being the lighter traffic. However, the risks that cyclists face during the day are amplified without sunlight and thus we have to take extra precautions. We’ve compiled a list of things to be conscious of when riding in the dark, and how these risks can be averted.
Wearing fluorescent and reflective clothing could be the split-second difference between a driver spotting you at a junction or them pulling out in front of you.
It is important to note that high visibility clothing, often bright yellows and pinks, can show up much better in the dark before light has hit the fabric than jackets that are simply reflective. Therefore, it is preferable to invest in a jacket that combines the two to maximise your visibility on the road.
As well as this, accessories such as reflective ankle and wrist bands will add to one’s ability to spot you early, and in the case of wrist bands, they may also help when when signalling; remember to keep your palm flat and extend your arm all the way out from the shoulder to make your signalling intentions as clear as possible.
Positioning on the Road
While some disgruntled motorists will inevitably be riled by this, it is essential to position yourself closer to the middle of the road than you would in the day time.
Firstly, this will help you to avoid nasty sloping guttered edges to the road that will almost certainly inflict damage on you and your bike should you fall into them. Not only this, but positioning yourself properly allows for an even greater chance that drivers have spotted you, especially when they are trying to emerge from a junction, enter a roundabout, and where the road narrows or bends.
Head Out Equipped With Appropriate Lighting
Generally speaking, if you’re cycling in town, look for something that kicks out a broad beam, while if you’re planning to ride off the beaten track you’ll want a more focused beam to help spot upcoming obstacles.
The brightest lights will often have a lower setting for built-up areas. Using this will prevent dazzling oncoming traffic and preserve your battery. For example, something like the Front Sync Core 500 LM would be a perfect choice for the front light, and the settings can be altered through an app on your phone.
For the rear, the Sync Kinetic is worth checking out; it has a built-in accelerometer, and knows when you’re slowing down. It will let following traffic know too, and does this by firing off a burst of high-intensity flashes as you decelerate.
Preparation is key, so always carry a spare pair of lights for the highly unpredictable and changeable UK weather conditions. Batteries do go flat, so be sure to pack extras just in case you get caught out by the early evenings.