Biking to work improves your fitness, gets you out of traffic, and eliminates the burden of hunting for a good parking spot. You arrive at the office feeling great after a morning bike ride, but what about the ride home?
After a long workday when the sun sets, the bike ride home looks and feels different from your morning commute. For one thing, you may feel tired and not as alert as you are in the morning. For another, you, other bikers, and motorists may have reduced visibility, depending on whether it’s fully dark when you head out.
Riding after dark can be a relaxing time when you know how to bike safely at night. Keep these tips in mind when you punch out and pedal home for the day.
Light Yourself Up
Assume no one can see you on your bike at night. Even if you wear a neon green safety vest, others may not see you on unlit streets.
Use a bike light to brighten your surroundings and let others know where you are. Consider bike lights that cast beams at generous angles. That way, you alert others of your approach from the left, right, and rear.
Other ways to make yourself visible include attaching reflective surfaces to your bike and body. Some biking gloves have a reflective stripe that changes colors depending on the intensity of light.
Take It Slow
After spending all day at work, you want to get home and unwind as quickly as possible. Resist the urge to pedal like the wind.
At night, you may not see potholes, bumps in the road, and other obstacles until you’re right up on them. Even if you have a light, you may not have much time to react to a sudden hazard if you speed.
If you don’t wear pads while riding, consider donning knee pads, at least. Unexpected crashes are more likely to happen at night. If they do, a good pair of pads could protect you from a severe injury.
Think About Taking a Different Route
A safe route can become a complicated ride when night falls. Paths well-lit by the morning light may become all but invisible when the sun goes down.
Consider taking a different way home at night. Routes with bike paths and designated bike lanes may be safer, and so may routes brightened by street lights. Use your smartphone to stay current on the safest biker routes in your area.
You may already know how chilly night bike rides can get. Not only can riding in the cold become uncomfortable, but it can also become a safety risk. After all, as a biker, you create your own headwind, which can make chilly winds feel even more punishing if you aren’t wearing the right gear.
If the forecast for your commute home shows a chance of cold temperatures, dress accordingly. Wearing multiple layers is a great way to keep warm without overheating. Also, switch to full-finger winter biking gloves, thicker socks, and tights.
Share Your Ride
If you don’t already have one, download a GPS navigation mobile app that lets you share your ride with friends. When you head home from work, send a friend or relative a text message with an invitation to view your ride.
Letting someone know when you’re on the road can give you peace of mind. Your friends and family will also appreciate knowing when you arrive home safely.
Biking home at night is a great way to unwind after work and put thoughts of the office out of your mind. Ease into the rhythm of the ride with safety tips that make your evening commute a smooth one.