Riding at night can be a ton of fun, and it’s unavoidable if you commute on your bike early in the morning or later at night. Ensuring that drivers can see you in tough lighting conditions is the first step in staying safe on your rides. This includes bike lights, reflective gear, and making use of bike reflectors.
Bike Reflectors as a Supplement to Lights
First things first, you’ll want to have a front-facing white light and a rear facing red light (one solid and one blinking is best). These are legally required in many places, and are a very good idea. Reflectors can be used to supplement bike lights, not replace them.
Fortunately, new LED lights are both affordable and long-lasting for those longer rides. Drivers have to be able to see you to have enough time to react, so better to have too many lights than not enough.
If you’re planning on heading down any low light or country roads, you’ll want to ensure your front light is bright enough to light your path. Be sure that all your lights are fully charged before heading out with more than enough battery life for the duration of your ride, and it’s a good idea to have an extra backup light as well.
The Best Use of Bike Reflectors
Bike reflectors work to bounce light back in the direction of it’s source, in this case a car’s headlights. Depending on your bike, it may already have some reflectors. Most new bikes come with a set of reflectors, but are rarely installed by the bike shop before sale. The most common places will be on the back of the pedals, the fork, handlebars, seat post, and rear rack if you have one.
Front and back reflectors usually have a bracket that fits around the stem or handlebar. These will either snap shut, or have small screws that hold it in place. Back reflectors will go on the stem below the seat, but make sure it isn’t so high that the seat or your jacket will block it. Front reflectors will go right on the handlebars, or the front stem. If you don’t want to attach reflectors on your bike, strips of reflective tape can be used instead.
It’s been proven that drivers will notice the up and down movement of pedaling before the smoother movement of the whole bike, so it’s important to get something reflective on your pedals or feet. For pedals that don’t have built-in reflectors, you can get a reflector attachment that will bolt into your pedals. Or you can use strips of reflective tape on your pedals and wear reflective ankle bands to ensure you are visible.
Tire Spoke Reflectors
You may not want to have tire spoke reflectors on your favourite road bike or mountain bike, but they are a great idea. The rotation of the wheel will make sure you are seen from the sides as well as the front and rear. Basic plastic tire reflectors will snap on and off easily, so you could just put them on for those rides at dust or in the dark.
Cycling at night doesn’t have to be dangerous and can open up a whole new world of riding, not to mention the additional time available to actually do it. Be prepared and stay smart and you’ll reap the benefits of cycling at night be it commuting or getting some extra training in.