Ed. – A lot of commuters have to deal with riding when the stars are out instead of the sun.
RL Policar of BikeCommuters.com recently spent several months doing just that and was kind of enough to write up this guest article with his tips on staying safe while riding at night. Leave a comment if you have anymore questions.
One of my favorite things to do is ride my bike during the early morning hours. In recent months I had held a position with a company where I was required to be at my office by 3am. That meant having to get up around 1am hop on my bike, ride 22 miles and make it there safely.
A few things I learned while bike commuting at 1:30am is to make sure I am as visible as I can be. I have a few lights on my fixed gear commuter. I have a special LED, a neon light, reflectors on my helmet and wheels, LED tail light and a big reflective strip on my back pack.
Another suggestion I have is to wear a bright shirt. I wore this one for the picture, its bright yellow, a perfect addition to my already bright lights.
What most people don’t realize is just because you’re visible to other motorists at night doesn’t mean you’re safe. Sure you’re telling them that you’re there, but you’re still insignificant in size compared to a car that has two headlights. Motorists are more prone to respond to bigger lights. With that said, I’d recommend getting some sort of green light to accompany your light system. Studies have shown that the color green, especially if used in lights, is the color the human brain responds to quicker. As you may have seen in my photo above, my bike has a Down Low Glow green neon light. When I’m on the road people will slow down, check me out and drive off. I even get comments from people saying how cool it is. The neon light emits so much glow that cars will automatically swerve out of my way.
One final piece of advice I’d like to offer to all you commuters”just let it go!
There will be many times when a jerk will cut you off, yell at you, threaten you, etc. But it’s a good idea to just let it go. I’ve been in so many confrontations where I was cut off or yelled at in which I later realized that I was asking for a butt whoopin.’
Here’s why you should let it go… you’re going against a guy in a car. On your bike isn’t exactly the best place to be when a car is coming towards you. Also, you don’t know what the driver has in their car. In Los Angeles, quite a bit of people die every year from gun related road rage incidents and a car is a great place to hide weapons.
Oh, one more thing, your life is worth more than trying to prove that you had the right of way to a hysterical driver.
I hope that my suggestion encourages you to get out and ride at night. Just be safe!
Ed. – For more bike commuter articles from RL Policar, check out www.BikeCommuters.com.
For more discussion and tips on dealing with aggressive drivers, check out this article from our Commute 101 section.