Keeping safe while cycling at night is not impossible, as daunting as it may seem.
Whether you’re commuting during the darker winter months, or in the mood for a midnight bike ride, our ultimate guide to night cycling will help you get out into the darkness safe and sound.
First things first...
Know and Plan Your Route
Make sure to plan out your routes. Ensure the paths you choose are well-lit so you can avoid hidden or obscured obstacles such as potholes and cracks in the road. The best way to achieve this is to ride the route during daylight hours. This will give you ample opportunity to scope out the path, allowing you to be better prepared for any potential hazards.
When planning your route, it is wise to factor in different road types. Knowing where your local cycle tracks/paths are located could save you a world of hassle. While cycling on footways is illegal, you can get shared-use paths that are meant for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Avoid Adverse Weather Conditions
The weather should always be considered before you set off to do some midnight cycling. Fallen branches concealed by leaves can be a common problem for cyclists, as well as patches of ice which may be less visible in the dark.
If you are not able to avoid riding in adverse conditions, make certain that you prepare for it with the relevant equipment (I.e. winter tires, fog lights etc).
Checking your bike before your ride to make sure everything is in working order can limit plenty of potential risks. The most important things to take into account here are the bike’s wheels and brakes.
It is also best to perform this type of inspection during the day, or in a well-lit environment, as some problems with your bike might not be clearly visible under the cover of darkness.
Lights for Cycling at Night. Do You Have to Have a Light to Ride at Night?
LED headlights are the best bike lights for night riding, giving you far better illumination, at lower cost, than bulb lights of the past. Although, the brightness of your headlights can become a problem if you have them too bright. If your lights happen to cause undue dazzle or visual discomfort to other road users it can be regarded as illegal.
While flashing lights are permitted, for routes with little to no lighting it is recommended that you use a steady front lamp.
Reflectives for Cycling at Night - Are Bike Reflectors Required by Law?
As stated in Rule 60 of the Highway Code, your bike: “MUST be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.”
Don’t let your bike have all the fun. Go ahead and add some reflective items to your cycling attire. Whether you choose to wear bright colours (particularly yellow or white), or garments with reflective strips, your chances of being seen by other road users will be dramatically increased.
Recommended Cycling Gear for Night Riding:
- Cycling Helmet - Check out our foldable helmet!
- White Front Lamp- Positioned up to 150 cm from the ground
- Red Rear Lamp- Positioned between 35 and 90 cm from the ground
- Red Rear Reflector- Positioned between 25 and 90 cm from the ground
- Amber Pedal Reflectors- Positioned on the front and back of both pedals
- Reflective Clothing- Brightly coloured and with reflective strips
- Basic Repair Kit- 2 spare inner tubes, tyre boot, pump and multi-tool
- Basic First Aid Kit- Bandages and rubbing alcohol