I need some late night/early morning riding tips

Since my hours at work recently changed, I’ve avoided riding in because I just don’t want to take the risk of getting hit by a drunk driver since I start work right around the same time the bars are closing.

So, I’m turning to our readers for some advice.

I need to know the safest way to commute at night. I currently have the Down Low Glow from Fossil Fool and a few other blinkies and headlights, but I’m not sure if that’s enough.

14 Comments

  1. Ghost Rider June 13, 2007 5:15 am 

    Try one of those orange reflective vests or the big orange reflective triangle pinned to your back…and, I don’t know…perhaps a HELMET?!? The picture accompanying your article doesn’t show you wearing one, but word on the street is you’re smarter than that! Be safe, man — you only get ONE brain in this world!!!

    My return commute is ALWAYS after dark, so:

    I roll with three rear-facing blinkies and about 100 square inches of DOT reflective tape on the fenders and seatstays on the bike + three large DOT reflectors zip-tied to my rear mudflap…all that and the reflective stripes on my panniers and messenger bag light me up like a Christmas tree. Up front I run two headlights (one steady, one blinking) and a helmet-mounted light to shine into the eyes of oncoming drivers.

    I guess the best way to be safe is to find a route that keeps you away from the major streets…even if it means extra miles or time. Believe me, it’s worth it to find a quiet back street with little or no traffic.

  2. howdager June 13, 2007 5:57 am 

    The retro-reflective tape sewn into much cycling gear these days works really well. My shoes glow, my winter tights glow, my panniers glow. I also use a product made for motorcycles called the “halo helmet band”. It never wanted to stay on my motorcycle helmet, but it works great on my bicycle helmet, so now my head glows as well. You can buy reflective tape and cut it into whatever shapes you want, strips on the fronts and backs of your crank arms stand out really well, creating an up/down/up/down motion while you pedal. I always wear sunglasses on bike, which means clear or amber lenses after dark. Make sure you have a really good head light and a back up, not being able to see the road ahead of you makes for a miserable commute. I love commuting in the dark, it just requires a little extra thought. Enjoy.

  3. RL Policar June 13, 2007 7:36 am 

    I was thinking of getting some reflective tape and putting them on my spokes too.

  4. Moe June 13, 2007 8:17 am 

    Oh oh, does that mean that you are going ‘geek’ on us???? You are actually trading off your macho fixed gear image for something geeky??? what’s next? panniers?????

    Take Ghost’s advice, light yourself up like a X-mas tree. Who knows, maybe Santa will bring you that gift you always wanted.

  5. Val June 13, 2007 8:18 am 

    Excellent advice above; you can never have too much reflection. Even so, I have had freinds who were lit up like christmas trees and still got hit by drivers who “didn’t see them.” People are always capable of being blind, so don’t forget to use your own super tuned senses and hyper alert riding habits to keep yourself aware of any other moving objects, as well as upcoming potential hazards. All this may sound ominous, but after a while it will become second nature, and you’ll be just as comfortable in the dark as at high noon. Rubber side down!

  6. Ghost Rider June 13, 2007 8:42 am 

    RL, an even better spot for reflective tape on the wheels is between the spokes on the flat parts of the rim — when you ride, a crazy stroboscopic effect happens, and those pieces of tape will be angled in such a way to catch light from all the “useful” directions (to the front and rear of the bike).

    Val is right on the money, too — you can be lit up like a nuclear blast and still someone could claim that “I didn’t see you”…tune up those Spidey Senses and ride like the wind!!!

  7. RL Policar June 13, 2007 9:21 am 

    “macho fixed gear image”
    Yes it is macho…but I might have to go Geek for the sake of safety. Part of me doesn’t want to urbanize my beautiful Redline Nacho 925…we’ll see how it goes. I might just ride my xtracycle to work.

  8. Cornfed Jay June 13, 2007 12:18 pm 

    Better a geek with a heartbeat than a macho fixie rider without one…

  9. Moe June 13, 2007 12:50 pm 

    Dude, the Xtracycle will be a great idea, you can attach a sign like this one:

    and no one will bother you.

  10. Russ June 13, 2007 9:14 pm 

    Get a Dinotte tail light (when you want to absolutely blind every mofo behind you :)….I should have brought it to the expo for you guys to see….i run it during the day and cars still react to it…if you want, you can cruise down to the LB and check it out…

  11. RL Policar June 14, 2007 4:17 am 

    Russ, I’m working on getting a Dinotte light to review. Hopefully if things go well, I’ll be night riding safely soon.

  12. Mark H June 14, 2007 7:36 am 

    I am on my bike at 4:30 am and I have a flashing led light attached to each pannier and one to my seat post. I wear an Illuminite vest that really lights up when the headlights hit it. The key is to be seen and my friends say my bike is lit up like a space ship at night, well that’s the point is to be seen. I have noticed not much traffic in the early hours, but I do get more flats at night than in daylight hours, so carry a head lamp to make bike repairs a lot easier. Good luck!
    -mark

  13. Noah June 14, 2007 1:27 pm 

    Until you hear “turn those ****ing things off!” at least once per trip, you’re not lit up enough. Keep adding candlepower front and back until you succeed.

  14. enrique June 19, 2007 3:49 pm 

    Whoah, those neons are pimp! I’m getting me some..!

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