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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-27-07, 04:11 AM   #1
making
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early AM rides

Do most of you ride to work in the dark? I have quit riding to work because traffic is so heavy and I have to travel main roads. I really liked to ride in but it just seems so dangerous with the traffic. I can work any time I want to though. I am thinking about going in at 5am so leave home about 4am. then I can also head home before rush hour. Is it safe with a lot of blinkers on a safety vest? I am not really risk adverse, just want it (the risk) to be reasonable.
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Old 09-27-07, 04:31 AM   #2
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Yes. I head out around 5am. The roads are fairly empty but if I leave an hour later it starts getting annoying. I do not use a safety vest but that would be a good idea. I prefer jackets with reflective stripping.
You should be fine with adequate lighting. In addition to blinkies you should have a decent headlight. No point in everyone being able to see you but you not being able to see. That and blinkies are annoying to see by.
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Old 09-27-07, 04:52 AM   #3
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Do most of you ride to work in the dark? I have quit riding to work because traffic is so heavy and I have to travel main roads. I really liked to ride in but it just seems so dangerous with the traffic. I can work any time I want to though. I am thinking about going in at 5am so leave home about 4am. then I can also head home before rush hour. Is it safe with a lot of blinkers on a safety vest? I am not really risk adverse, just want it (the risk) to be reasonable.

Reflectivity is an excellent idea. A reflective vest identifies you as a person. You don't have to go whole hog, but adding some reflective tape to your fenders(if you have them) and crankarms helps. The tape on the crankarms provides movement, which catches drivers' eyes. Reflective ankle bands are good too. As for blinking lights----I recommend the Planet Bike Superflash. It's about 20 bucks from Nashbar, and brighter than anything except the $150 DiNotte.
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Old 09-27-07, 04:54 AM   #4
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I leave home at 4am and arrive at work at 4:40 am. I used to use blinkies but switched to the Dinotte tail light. There is a big difference in how cars pass me with this light. They used to pass close now they go way around me. In a conversation with a driver who regularly passes me in the morning (we were stopped at a draw bridge), he told me he really sees me now with the new light. I think the light is bright enough to be seen from a distance, where as blinkies are not picked up visually till the car is close, seeing the light from a distance gives the driver time to alter their course a bit. You can't judge a tail light when you are holding it in your hand because drivers aren't seeing the light that close, they are moving at speed and need to see the light from a ways off to make a difference.

Having said all that I think you are safer in the dark (if you use a good tail light) because the only thing a driver has to focus on in the dark is you, during daylight there is a lot more to take in visually.
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Old 09-27-07, 04:55 AM   #5
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I have ridden all hours of the day or night, in fact, I've even ridden all night on occasions. Personally I think riding at night is considerably safer than during the day with adequate lighting. The traffic is generally lighter, and people are less aggressive in the cooler temperatures. The thing to remember about lighting is that redundancy is a virtue. You should always have more lights than you need, just in case one of them fails.
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Old 09-27-07, 05:43 AM   #6
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I have ridden all hours of the day or night, in fact, I've even ridden all night on occasions. Personally I think riding at night is considerably safer than during the day with adequate lighting. The traffic is generally lighter, and people are less aggressive in the cooler temperatures. The thing to remember about lighting is that redundancy is a virtue. You should always have more lights than you need, just in case one of them fails.
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Old 09-27-07, 05:47 AM   #7
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In some ways I feel safer riding in the dark. The traffic is generally lighter (in mornings), and with proper lighting you should be very visible. When I ride in the dark, it seems like cars always swing wider and give me more space when passing. I've got flex time where I work, so I leave home at 6:30 am to avoid traffic and get to work earlier. Lately I've been riding in the dark the first half of my 45-minute commute, but soon it will be dark the entire way. It's still too warm to wear a vest in NC, but I have a collection of bright orange and yellow jerseys. I also use two red blinkies in the back and a rechargable Cygolite in the front.

One thing to keep in mind about riding in the dark is road obstacles. It is harder to see potholes, sticks, gravel, etc. in the dark, no matter how good your lighting system is. So you have to be more cautious in that regard and be careful about riding too fast in areas where the road surface is suspect.
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Old 09-27-07, 07:23 AM   #8
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Yes, I ride in the dark on the way to work most of the year. I leave around 5:15 and get to work about 5:50. Assuming adequate lighting, IMHO it's safer to ride at night than in the daytime, even if the traffic is the same. Add to that the traffic is generally much lighter, and it's a win all around.
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Old 09-27-07, 07:36 AM   #9
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yeah i leave at 5am, which is dark all winter.

agreed that it feels very safe. i have two blinkies in the back- one on my bag, one on my bike, and a really bright dualcross and a cheap cateye LED upfront. i oly use the cateye asa backup, and as a flasher to make sure someone sees me if i'm not sure they can.

besides there being really little traffic. having the lights in the darkness makes me more conspicuous to cars and conversely, makes cars more conspicuous to me. at night time you always know without even looking if theres someone coming up behind you.
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Old 09-27-07, 07:41 AM   #10
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I'm out of the house at 4:00AM. Two blinkers (Cateye LD1000 and Planet Bike Superflash) and a whole lotta reflective tape for me. I occasionally wear a yellow jersey or windbreaker.

At 4AM there's almost no traffic.
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Old 09-27-07, 08:13 AM   #11
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http://www.illuminite.com/Catalog/cycling.html

also use a pb superflash, two cateye LD1000s, and two other rear lights, + reflective tape

I only ride in the dark on the way home.
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Old 09-27-07, 09:18 AM   #12
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A lady I know walks about 5 AM and wears a blinkie or two. One morning I encountered her out walking. I could not see her blinkie until I was within a few feet of her.

I use Bell LED red flasher from Wal-Mart on my seat post. A friend was driving on the same road while I was cycling in the dark. He said he saw me half of a mile away.

In our area there seems to be a rush of traffic at 5:30 AM. I try to go either side of that to avoid all of the extra traffic.
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Old 09-27-07, 09:24 AM   #13
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A lady I know walks about 5 AM and wears a blinkie or two. One morning I encountered her out walking. I could not see her blinkie until I was within a few feet of her.
I've seen people with blinkies with nearly dead batteries. Some days their blinkies look great from a distance, others you can barely see them. Even my Cateye 1000 is pathetic with low batteries in it.

That's what I like about rechargables. There's no temptation to try to get the last few days life out of them; I just recharge them every weekend, which is about 4x (or more) more frequently than they really need.
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Old 09-27-07, 09:56 AM   #14
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I've seen people with blinkies with nearly dead batteries. Some days their blinkies look great from a distance, others you can barely see them. Even my Cateye 1000 is pathetic with low batteries in it.

That's what I like about rechargables. There's no temptation to try to get the last few days life out of them; I just recharge them every weekend, which is about 4x (or more) more frequently than they really need.
Thanks for the reminder. *swaps out his batteries*
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Old 09-27-07, 10:51 AM   #15
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Way Early

I leave home at 4:15 every morning and have been doing it for about a year. Everyone has already said everything that can be said about the subject. Redundant lights that are visible from a distance are a great idea. And early morning traffic is tons easier to get through. Traffic in my neighborhood doesn't pick up until 6 or 7 most mornings so I generally have the road to myself. The pre-dawn commute might be the answer for you.
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Old 09-27-07, 10:53 AM   #16
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I found rush hour was more stressful in the dark downtown, due to having to concentrate on everything with the added glare of the lights and the wetter conditions. Once out of the craziness (mainly Adelaide, to be honest) it's just fine.

Other than that, no different - I wear my hi-vis vest any time of day/year when riding, and when I wear pants I will wear ankle bracelet things. I use a PB5000x headlight and PB Superflash rear (I have two with me, but use one) - at least on my roadbike anyway, my all-weather MTB is a bit under-endowed right now due it being my backup bike. I'm trying to finish my homebrew headlights for this autumn/winter, which will give me light to see by, rather than just to be seen.
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Old 09-27-07, 11:32 AM   #17
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I can be seen from space. I have a Xenon front light, a blinking LED light on my helmet, two blinkies (one super bright) on my rear, wear a yellow jersey with an orange reflective construction vest over it, reflectors on my panniers, pedals, the backs of my gloves, ankles, and helmet. If someone hits me again, it sure as heck won't be because they didn't see me!
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Old 09-27-07, 10:32 PM   #18
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One concern that I have when riding in the dark is running over junk lying in the bike lane or shoulder of the street I'm riding on. I use a dynohub front light and an LED flasher, meaning that oncoming cars can usually see me pretty well. I have not had any big problems with cars suddenly turning in front of me. The streets that I ride on are in generally good condition with just a few places where I have to watch for bumps or rough spots along the way. However I can't see stuff like dark broken glass or small pieces of metal lying in the road at night as well as I can during the day.
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Old 09-27-07, 10:55 PM   #19
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I can be seen from space.
That is some serious candlepower!!

I thought I saw the aurora borealis the other morning, maybe it was you.
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Old 09-28-07, 08:16 AM   #20
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I ride early in the dark. I think my ankle bracelets found in running department of Walmart are a nice reflective touch. Candlepower is key...I was almost hit Wednesday, a car pulled out and I had my headlights right on him, he just kept coming, we should remember that the cars that are out there are looking for car headlights, there is no eyecontact...so I am gonna look into the above increase in candlepower.
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Old 09-28-07, 08:29 AM   #21
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If you ride in the rain (or right after a rain) in the dark you should be aware that it is impossible to tell how deep water is. You might want to cross a stream or puddle thinking it probably isn't deep only to find out (the hard way) that the water is a foot and a half deep at that spot.
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Old 09-28-07, 08:53 AM   #22
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Be ready to ride at a bit slower pace. You don't want to be outracing your headlight. I find that I slow down 3-5 mph depending on conditions (I ride everything from well-lit avenues to an unlit MUP on the way to work). So slow down just a bit, and you'll increase the likelihood of spotting road debris.
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Old 09-28-07, 09:12 AM   #23
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Riding in the early a.m. is absolute bliss. The only drawback is that... well, you have to get outta bed so damn frigging early (not a feat I manage accomplish very often). If you're a morning person, this could be a great solution for you.
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Old 09-28-07, 09:25 AM   #24
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I love my pre-dawn ride; I try to get out of the house at 5:40 so I can catch the 6:09 train. There are other trains, but the ride gets less pleasant as traffic gets progressively heavier. I rely on reflectivity and bright generator lights; I hate batteries! In another month or so, it'll be dark on the way home, in rush hour; that's a lot less fun.
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Old 09-28-07, 09:50 AM   #25
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feck that i don't even get out of my bed til 7.35am! tho night time rides back from your mates or whatever at 2 am in the morning are class, i tend no to bother with light, as there's no traffic and there's plenty street lighting where i live...

mind you when it comes to traveling with traffic in the morning and after work on commutes and late at night thru november december january february i'll be investing in a decent set of lights...gets dark at 3.30/4 in the afternoon around here in december and january
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