We’re at that time of year here (western MA, USA) where the weather is still nice but it’s dark by 6:30ish. I want to be able to ride (on the road) after work, say starting at 5:30, but that means spending some time in the dusk/dark. I have a front light that’ll go up to 1100 lumens, bright/reflective clothes, and a Varia radar/light. I personally don’t mind ending a ride in the dark, especially when the weather is still nice, but my wife and extended family think I’m nuts.
I’d argue I’m harder to miss in the dark with the lights than during daylight, but you always have to worry about distracted drivers and other hazards.
How comfortable are you riding in the dark? Do you get much push back from family? Any tips?
I really enjoy riding in the dark and I started doing it via commuting to work. It sounds like you’ve got the right gear for it and I agree that I think you’re probably more visible than during the day.
My wife is supportive but concerned when I’m out in the dark so I do make mods to my routes - less busy roads, more trails that sort of thing.
I also try to be either on a trail or otherwise off the roads during sunrise/sunset. That’s one of the most dangerous times when the sun is low and glare is a concern. You’re really invisible during that window of time.
I commute all year, which certainly means in the dark and rain for 4 months or so. Gear is important yes, you’ve got that covered. Even more important to me is choosing safe routes.
I’ve never had an issue in the dark, but I double down on making sure I don’t with good choices.
0 tolerance in a road with cars. It’s a stupid proposition. I remember seeing some stats and a great number of accidents with cyclists happen after 5pm.
I’d anecdote that a low sun is a more dangerous time to be riding.
Decent rear lights (like Exposure TraceR) give me confidence (one on solid, one blinking), along with a bike with proper guards and a few reflective details added make me feel prepared for bad weather.
I’m also commuting or riding around London (often) in a sea of other cylists.
With the appropriate lights, and low traffic areas, I don’t see riding in the dark being any riskier. I agree that dusk is likely worse.
I would never ride in the dark AND rain though. That has to be the highest risk conditions in my experience.
I absolutely love it!
I get tunnel vision no matter what speed im traveling as long as im in the zone and everything appears more mystical to me.
I run the same gear as FrankTuna says but if someone is really worried about cars my wife has this vest that is obnoxiously bright and I really cant see how its possible to not see it.
This is also key for me. I’m also in a city where drivers are very familiar with cyclists.
They can’t miss you in that!!!
I live in Montreal and it’s fairly safe to ride at night as you either have protected bike lanes or you’re expected to take the lane, decreasing the risk of an inattentive driver not seeing you. I have a Garmin front light and a Varia in the back and I feel it’s perfectly fine as-is for riding in the city. However, riding on rural roads at night I would definitely have more lights as the cars are moving at a much higher speed and are not expecting cyclists. I don’t really mind it though as these roads barely have any traffic at night. It’s not risk-free, but I don’t think it’s more risky than riding in daylight on a busy rural road.
Honestly, I feel safer at night. I’m lit up like a christmas tree. It’d be very hard not to see me. Much more concerned with riding at dawn/dusk with a low sun.
I’m fine riding at night, but do so mostly on the MUP (commuting/endurance), or in a group. Cars aren’t so much an issue that way. I do tend to panic a bit when someone I don’t know gets on my wheel, but that’s true in the daylight also.
After I saw the movie Dog Soldiers, I couldn’t ride alone in the forests after dark.
Mostly for commuting, but comfortable. More concerned with out-riding my headlight than anything. Though I have the roads more or less memorized on my routes home. Oddly, the most dangerous stretches tend to be the bike path.
I can see that with walkers/runners using headphones!
At night the most common concern is oncoming bikes without front lights. Runners aren’t usually much of an issue at night. The scariest incident was a guy fake throwing a rock at me.
Lights aren’t worth much unless they’re blinking and/or moving in weird patterns. The city and surroundings are full of lights and people just don’t look at them because looking in the direction of a light (especially a super-bright headlight) is unpleasant.
I have lights on my pedals and you can’t miss them – even if I am coasting and the pedals are not bobbing up and down, the lights blink. In combination with a strobe headlight, and the variable radar blinking tail-light, it works OK. But still, riding in the dark is just asking for trouble. I avoid it soon after dusk, and only do it early-mornings (which is a surprisingly dangerous time because some drivers speed and they don’t stop at signs or lights when the roads are empty).
There are a myriad of crazy blinking lights available for commuters – lights for the wheels, the pedals, the backpack, the helmet, etc. These things work, but road cyclists often mock the ones who use them.
Don’t believe that anyone can see you unless you’re flashing like a tacky Christmas tree. And even then you have to hope and assume that you’re not dealing with someone who just smoked some cannabis and isn’t able to pay attention to anything in their peripheral vision. As a cyclist, you have to rely on automobile drivers to see you and accommodate you; occasionally they won’t.
Cars usually don’t know what i a, and slow down more in the dark to pass. Random dogs can sneak up on me without warning, thats a bit scary
I enjoy it, but have safety concerns.
Riding in the city at night is less of an issue in my mind as there is both better lighting and people are expecting you.
Riding on the highway at night you can be highly visible by wearing a giant flashing LED vest (buy off Amazon). But it’s still dark and people are t expecting you. Around these parts there’s also more drunk drivers on the rural highways.
I have no problems riding at night in the city. I will only ride at night on the highway if it’s required for an event (ex: once a year or less).
Regardless of feelings, it’s a bad bet looking at the numbers. You are right on being concerned about low light as well.