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Five ways to improve your night cycling visibility:

By CycleRecycle, Dec 9 2015 02:07PM

Want to start some night cycling but worried about not being seen and having an accident?

Even if you have ridden for many years, the fear of being hit, having an accident, not reaching home never truly leaves you.

Feeling a little fear as you head out the door is a good thing because it keeps you ‘thinking on your pedals’.

Know that there is no such thing as being 100% safe riding a bike (day or night), but there is a lot you can do to help yourself ride as safe as you can.

Night cycling: how can I ride as safe as I can?

Safer night cycling starts with being highly visible to other road users every time you ride. Remember, no matter what your skill level – if you can’t be seen, you won’t be seen and you risk a serious accident, especially at night.

Safer night riding skill comes with regular night cycling practice. Remember, the more night cycling you do, the more you learn, the safer you’ll become in the long term.

Five ways to improve your night cycling visibility:

1. Use lights and reflectors

By law in the UK:

“At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.

Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.” (Highway Code rule no.60.)

Remember that in street lit areas, you may see the way clearly ahead of you BUT you might not be seen so easily. For this reason, you must have lights on when riding in street lit areas.

2. Use flashing lights in rush hour

If you’re commuting in town, or under streetlights in rush hour traffic, then a flashing light is the way to go.  Flashing lights tend to grab the attention of drivers (unlike steady lights) and makes them more aware of your road presence.  You’re no more brighter, but you’re much more conspicuous. Please note that if you’re not riding in the UK, you may have laws that inhibit flashing lights.

3. Use the right lights for your commute

The type of light you buy depends on the type of commute you’re going to ride.

It’s very important you get the right lights for your night riding. For more detailed information head over to Selecting Lights For Bike Commuting.

4. Use helmet headlamps and mini ‘blinkies’

A very effective way to be seen on your bike (in addition to your standard lights) is to wear a headlamp on your helmet front and back.  The advantage of this is that you can be seen from the side when you move your head in the direction of the approaching driver.

Mini blinkies are tiny little lights you can attach on the front or the back of yourself or your bike. These can be useful if you become separated from your bike in an accident, so well worth the investment.

5. Use retro-reflective kit

Retro-reflective strips light up in the path of vehicle headlight, ‘reflecting light back’ to the driver.

Always use retro-reflective kit in combination with your lights at night.

Retro-reflective kit must not be used in place of lights at night.

You may find that some of your kit already comes with mini retro-reflective strips. In addition to this you can buy extra retro-reflective tape or stickers and use them to enhance your visibility.

The best way to wear retro-reflective strips is to attach them on moving parts of your bike or body – again, this acts as a moving part and distracts the driver making you more conspicuous.

For example: ankle bands, stickers on your zip tabs, wheels, frame, helmet, tape on your sleeves or gloves are highly effective.

Above all, remember to make yourself highly visible to other road users every time you ride, and ride regularly enough to continually build up your night riding skills.

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