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night riding in the city(7 posts)

night riding in the citymlbd
Mar 29, 2002 6:23 AM
I live in baltimore which is NOT a road bike friendly town (i really miss the great riding in D.C.). anyway, i can't always get my miles in during daylight (though the coming clock change should help). i'm thinking about getting a good light and riding at night sometimes. the streets around here can be very rough, though, and often not very wide. its difficult enought to ride here during the day, never mind at night. is anybody else in a similar situation? what's your solution? thanks.
re: increase visibilitycyclopathic
Mar 29, 2002 6:57 AM
reflective vest, several blinkies, reflective ankle bands reflectors etc. Be createve choosing streets avoid left turns. Also avoid rushhour, early morning is much safer good luck
re: night riding in the citycommuterguy
Mar 29, 2002 8:37 AM
I agree with the above: you need a lot of reflective material--on shoes, tights/shorts, vest or jacket, and on your helmet. None of this is cheap, but you simply can't be too visible to motorists. I have become highly attuned to night-time cyclists, and it's amazing both how reflective Illuminite is and how completely invisible cyclists are to motorists if they don't advertise their presence.

I recently came across another good idea: put reflective tape on your rims between the two spokes opposite from the valve. The logic is that this will create another flashing light for motorists to see (they will generally be out of sync). This, at least, is cheap.

You also need a really good light, which will cost at least $100. I have benefitted from having a two-lamp setup, since the bulbs eventually burn out but never give any warning.

A final tip: don't try out new routes or routes you haven't ridden recently in daylight. No matter how good your light is, it won't reveal everything you need to know about the pavement you're riding over (potholes, cracks, gravel, sand, etc.).
Reflector locationKEN2
Mar 29, 2002 4:00 PM
I agree that you need to be as visible as possible, however, you get more bang for the buck with lower-placed reflectors or reflectorized tape. For example, helmet tape is of limited value, because most car headlights are not going to aim that high. The best is reflectors on the backs of shoes, because they are low and they are moving. I suggest having spouse or friend go out in the car behind you at night in your riding areas and report about what is most visible. Also, dusk is a dangerous time because the reflectors don't work well (and the idiots don't have their lights turned on anyway!), so it's even more important then to have bright headlite and taillite.

And don't skimp on quality either--amber or yellow has been shown to be brighter, but get high quality above all. Auto aftermarket stores usually have better stuff like Scotch reflector tape.
Think that you're invisibletz
Mar 29, 2002 8:38 AM
I apply this motorcycling strategy when riding a bike in the streets of Brooklyn.
Assume that every driver around you is a selfish bonehead, who wants to kill you [in Brooklyn you don't assume, you KNOW it], and try to avoid any dangerous situations. Be visible and predictable.
Cyclopathic's advise on lighting equipment is good, except that I'd like to mention that all those things are add-ons to your driving skill. Your physicall integrity depends on it mostly.
Good luck!
Avoid well-lit streetsmr_spin
Mar 29, 2002 9:58 AM
I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but the more lighting a street has, the more you will disappear into the background, even with flashing lights and reflectors. The worst situation is a street lit with sodium vapor streetlights, which were very popular for years and still are in many places. They have a weird orange glow that washes out most colors. Everything takes on a greyish tint.

On a darker street, your flashing lights and reflectors will stand out a lot better and will be seen from much further away. Where I used to live we would ride at night down streets that had no streetlights at all. It is impossible for a driver not to see you in that situation!
"commuterguy"'s advce is right on...Djudd
Mar 29, 2002 1:36 PM
I commute everyday from downtown DC. Some days I am out on the road at 2a.m. just getting home. You cannot underestimate the amount of invisibility you have to drivers in the dark. If you don't have lights and reflectors, and lots of them, most people won't see you until it's too late. I found some stick on reflectors at Nashbar about five years ago and my commuter is full on with them. Plus lights, reflector tabs on my shoes and ankle reflectors. You can't go too far in making yourself known on the streets.