Between extremely cold temps and an actual cold that I’ve managed to acquire, I’m not sure I’ll have more new commutes to share this week (though I’ve got my fingers crossed for Thursday and Friday).
But! I do have some photos from my rides home last week, and I thought I’d use those to share some thoughts on cycling at night.
Riding in the dark was one of the biggest walls for me with winter bike commuting. During the summer, it wasn’t an issue — I was coming in early to escape riding in the heat anyway, so I was always out of the office hours before sunset. But by early November, unless I left at 4:30 I was guaranteed a ride home in the dark.
That first ride in the dark, when all I had was what amounted to a dim flashlight on the front (the blinkie was in the back but that didn’t help me see anything!), was kind of scary. As you can see from the photo above, some of the streets are barely lit at all. But I gradually added my LED light and some reflective tape, and now I feel much safer, save for a left turn off of a fairly busy (at rush hour, anyway) road. I have to leave the bike lane and cut into traffic to make it. My gloves are black and not at all reflective, so though there are streetlights, cars may not be able to see me indicating a turn. I’ve been thinking of getting a safe turn, which I think I first saw on cyclicious — anyone heard any opinions on it?
Over the last few months, I’ve become much more comfortable riding at night. I try to remember to
1.) Slow down! If a pothole has sprung up overnight, I’m less likely to see it.
2.) Be more cautious — if there’s any chance a car is going too fast for me to get in front of it, I don’t. As I approach intersections, I make a special effort to make eye contact with drivers to be sure they see me.
3.) Enjoy the night-time views, like this one.
I’m glad these people left their tree up longer for me to enjoy.