Stay Safe in the Dark
It's a safe bet that if you're training through the winter you will find yourself night riding, so CTC cycle trainer Greg Woodford has pulled together these five simple steps you can take to stay safe when you’re cycling in the dark.
With the right precautions, night riding doesn’t have to be scary and dangerous, but a genuine thrill. “Personally, I love the excitement of riding at night,” says Woodford. “with good lights and the right clothing you’re often more visible to other road users than you are in daylight. Not only that, but everything is so different at night, that even a regular commute looks and feels like a fresh route to be discovered.”
“A front white and rear red light are not just essential but a legal requirement,” says Woodford, “and I carry back-ups too. Under street lights, being seen is most important, and flashing LED lights do this well. The best are also visible from the side. On dark country lanes you need to light up enough of the road ahead, including potential surface hazards like potholes, for the speed you want to go.”
“Road position is even more vital in the dark,” says Woodford. “This means staying out of the gutter on the left of the lane whenever possible, and riding in the primary position – the centre of the lane – where necessary (find out more in our Cycle Smarter feature here). ‘Taking the lane’ in this way improves your visibility, and deters motorists behind from passing where it’s dangerous. Take extra care crossing side roads, where waiting traffic might not see you.”
“I’m not personally a fan of high-visibility clothing, preferring good-looking clothing with reflective detailing like logos, piping and zip covers that are picked out by headlights,” says Woodford. “Reflectives are particularly eye-catching on your knees, ankles or shoes, as they move up and down as you pedal. But don’t rely completely on reflectives to be seen by other road users. Good lights and road position are top of the list.”
“Lights have become so bright now that if they are not used considerately they can easily dazzle other road users,” says Woodford. “For instance, if you’re sitting in traffic, be aware that your light could be pointing straight into the eyes of the driver waiting in front of you through their mirrors. If you can’t dip the light while you wait, then twist your handlebar a little to avert the beam, or try to shield it until you get moving.”
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