Fall is here and the days are getting shorter. Gone are the long, sun-filled evenings of summer. At the same time our kids are back in school, and it’s harder to find time to ride.
If you’re like our family, you’re still trying to squeeze in some after-school, after-work evening rides. We did one of these rides this week, an evening pedal home from one of our favorite restaurants, and I was caught off guard by the setting sun. Looks like it’s time to mount our lights!
Rather than giving up biking for the fall and winter, we’ll be doing our best to make sure that our family is visible during the twilight hours. Here are some tips so that you can do the same with your kids.
1 – Mount up Lights
Rather than adding a light to your bikes each time you ride, add some fixed lights that you can leave on for those just in case moments where you find yourself racing the sun. You’ll want both a front headlight, and a nice bright, flashy red light for the rear. For kids, we really like the lightweight Knog Frog lights. They weigh nothing and the battery lasts a long time. They are also easy to add to the rear of a bike seat, bike trailer or trailer-cycle. Adults should choose something a bit brighter to help keep the whole family illuminated.
2 – Add Reflective Tape
Reflective tape can do a lot to make kids more visible. We like putting it on kids helmets, wheels, bike frames, and backpacks. If you ride with your child in a bike trailer, add the tape on the exterior of the trailer as well.
3 – Have Your Kids Wear Ankle and Knee Reflectors
A lot of parents I know invest in reflective vests for their kids (which is great), but did you know that knee and ankle reflectors are actually more effective? A 2012 study found that drivers saw cyclists with a reflective vest 67 percent of the time, and saw cyclists with ankle and knee reflectors 94 percent of the time. These are cheap and your child won’t outgrow them before the next season.
4 – Go Off Road
This might not work for bike commuting, but if you are biking with your kids for recreation, try riding off-road in the evening hours. Riding trails and canal paths in the dark can be a great adventure, and you don’t have to worry about car traffic. Since there is likely to be less ambient light, make sure you use a high-powered headlight to help navigate.
5 – Haul Your Kids
While your kids might do a great job of riding their own bikes during the day, as soon as it starts getting dark, it’s better to have them close by, particularly if you are riding on the road. If you have a cargo bike, this is as easy as throwing them and their bike on board. Otherwise, an attachment like the Follow-Me-Tandem can be a good way to make sure your child is tucked in close behind you. If your kids are littler, a bike seat is a great way to keep them close.