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Night riding...(13 posts)

Night riding...hammer_cycle
Sep 19, 2001 3:53 AM
With the end of September near, its been getting dark very early these days. I'm curious about people's experiences riding at night. Last spring, I purchased a super bright headlight (Cateye Stadium) and a rear flashing reflector light. As I was riding last night, I was more than a little concerned about getting rear-ended by cars overtaking me. The roads I would be traveling on would be a mix from unused local roads to moderately heavily traveled roads with overhead lighthing. Is it generally not safe to train at night and should I just save my time spent riding in the dark for the morning where there is considerably lesss traffic?

my limited experienceSpiritual Haiku
Sep 19, 2001 5:48 AM
I have two rear blinkies, one on my hydration pack and one on my seatpost, and a cateye 2.5-watt headlamp powered by 4 AA batteries. The only problems I have had so far involved people traveling opposite my direction turning left and cutting me off, a couple nearly flattening me & my Bianchi.

All the folks passing me from behind (traveling same direction) either waited most paitently, or gave me a wide berth. Maybe another blinkie at another level would help!

Good luck, and be careful!
re: Night riding...Rich Clark
Sep 19, 2001 6:03 AM
As a commuter I ride in the dark all the time, and generally I feel safer and more visible then than I do in the daytime.

A bright (12w+) headlight is essential to keep you from getting cut off by oncoming turning traffic. And I hate to say it, but those white wheel reflectors really work with traffic coming at you from the sides -- indeed, any moving reflector, on your ankles or shoes or wheels -- can add a lot of visibility.

Getting hit by overtaking vehicles is pretty rare. As you ride at night more you'll start to realize that they're giving you a wide berth, and you'll just naturally start to feel safer. That's not to say you shouldn't light yourself up like a Christmas tree. I use two bright blinkies (one on the back of the rack, one on the seatpost under the saddle), plus I wear a reflective "slow vehicle" triangle on an elastic band around my waist, with the triangle hanging down by the saddle. I clip an additional blinkie to the elastic band.

All this, plus the reflective tape on my shoes and panniers, makes me far more visible at night than I am in the daytime.

You've already figured out that if you're training at night your headlight needs to reach farther than your stopping distance. For you, I'd recommend adding some reflective tape to the top and sides of your headgear (this is a good reason to wear a helmet at night even if you don't wear one normally), to your shoes, and possibly to parts of your frame.

I love riding at night. I also love riding as the sun's coming up. It's not that hard to be prepared, and the rewards are worth it.

Rich pretty much covers it. Be prepared. nmMB1
Sep 19, 2001 6:50 AM
re: Night riding...hammer_cycle
Sep 19, 2001 7:00 AM
Thanks for the input. I really liked riding at night the few times that I have done it. Eearly on in the season when I commuted to work, only part of my ride was in twilight. Going forward, I will likely be riding in the dark all the time.

The headlight I bought is SUPER bright.. bright enough to directly overpower car headlights (evidenced by the blue tinge), so I feel like I"m getting a lot of respect from the front as I appear to be a motorcycle. My real fear was from the back. I will follow the advice hear and find some acceptable means of increaseing the rear reflective surfaces. Since my commute is rather long 24-25 miles each way, I'm riding a relatively nice bike and don't want to 'stick' it up with stick on reflectors! I guess I"ll have to bite the bullet.

Thanks for the input.
Not only lights and blinkies....Greg Taylor
Sep 19, 2001 6:05 AM
...but you should get as much reflective crap on your bod as you can (within the parameters of good taste, naturally). Blinkies alone can be small and hard to see. I've got an Illuminite vest that is very visible because it has a lot of reflective area. It is easier to see than a little blinkie, and gives drivers a bit more to work with.
re: Night riding...MJ
Sep 19, 2001 6:11 AM
dress yourself up like a christmas tree

the real concern is people coming in the opposite direction turning in front of you - even with your lights on it pays to remember that you are invisible - some people just don't notice if it''s not a car - and it's more difficult for people to estimate a cyclists speed at night
re: Night riding...Curtis
Sep 19, 2001 6:12 AM
I use 1 rear blinkie, 3 forward lights (15W on helmet, 10 & 15W on hadlebars)and a strobe that I got at Radio Shack. This thing is like a camera flash that goes off every second or so. It came with an elastic strap to wear around your arm or thigh, but I just stick it in the rear pocket of my trunk bag. Also, Illuminite clothing is great stuff. I wear a jacket and tights. The tights have Illuminite material near the ankles to create reflection and movement.
Night riding...Miklos
Sep 19, 2001 7:22 AM
I agree with the rest of the posters, night is a great time to ride. Ditto on bright headlight, I use 20w 12v halogen. For the rear I use a Vista Light blinker which is very bright. I use the wheel reflectors for side visability. The Illuminite brand of clothing does work good and I wear either a vest or light jacket that becomes one big reflector at night.

This combo works great for me, giving me more respect on the roads from cars than I get in the day time. However I will not ride at night during "big drinking" holidays, Superbowl Sunday, etc.

re: Night riding...bsenez
Sep 19, 2001 7:57 AM
i commute both ways in the dark and train at night several times a week. I use one rear blinker, some reflective tape on my helmet and reflective strips on my backpack (when commuting) for a headlight i have a marwi nightpro 32watt (20 and 12). i feel relatively safe at night, passing cars give a wide berth. my only concern comes from drunks and teenager (or drunk teenagers), i have not been hit at night, but i get yelled at much more than during the day. with my headlight i feel safe at speeds up to around 40mph on roads i do not know, faster than that and it gets hard to tell exactly what is coming.
stay safe
re: Night riding...Ken56
Sep 19, 2001 12:24 PM
I tried night riding several years ago. I bought some very expensive lights, attached them to my bike and went out on a training ride around dusk. By the time it had gotten dark, I was actually so frightened, that I considered calling my wife to come pick me up. I wasn't afraid of getting hit, I realized that the cars could see my lights, and the traffic was very light anyway. But I just couldn't make out the road well enough in front of me. I couldn't see the cracks and potholes in the road, or the storm drains, stones and other debris to avoid. It was very scary to me and I have never tried it since. I give you all credit for doing it, but I just want nothing to do with night riding. My eyesight has always been poor, and now that I'm older, the night vision is not very good either. I'll stay on my trainer once Daylight Savings Time is over.
I haven't had any problems in a year and 1/2.look271
Sep 19, 2001 12:37 PM
I've been using a Vistalite 10w front light with a double rear blinkie, It's bigger than most and has a steady bright red light plus 4 strobe flashers. Additionally, I have a reflector in the back and reflective tape on my backpack. The others are right; I seem to get more room at night than in the day (except for a few smart-a#$ co-workers of mine !). I love to ride home on a crisp, cool night, especially when the moon is full. I wouldn't count out getting something like an Illuminiute vest or jacket. No such thing as being too visible.
re: reflective vestcyclopathic
Sep 20, 2001 7:49 AM
similar to what road crews use costs only 10-15$ in LBS and makes you more visible