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  1. #1
    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Afraid of the dark

    Okay, the title might be a little bit of an overstatement, but I'm having trouble making myself ride after dark and need some help. I can usually work out my schedule so that I'm home before it gets dark, but today I knew there was no way to do that. I chickened out and drove to work instead of riding.

    Help! Was anyone else here nervous about riding in the dark at first? How did you get over it? I've got a good light (I think). It's this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1. A CatEye Econom HL-EL340RC.

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    Riding at night can be very dangerous, if you're not careful. Make certain that you can be seen from all directions and have a very luminous lighting system. Also, wear hi viz clothing!

  3. #3
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    Riding at night can be very dangerous, if you're not careful. Make certain that you can be seen from all directions and have a very luminous lighting system. Also, wear hi viz clothing!
    This is really all there is to it. You can actually be better seen against a dark background if you have the right lighting and reflective gear. It's the twilight that's dangerous.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Try riding with an experienced rider or even go on group rides
    at night to get used to it. Make sure to have bright lights to
    see and be seen.

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLeZhBw3cjI

  5. #5
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    Headlights are important, but tail lights are more so. Get a bright strobing or flashing tail light, mount it on your bike, then walk back 100 yards and see what you'll look like. You want enough power to be obvious.

    Then it's a mater of getting out there and adjusting your vision to the light level. Start on a few simple rides around your neighborhood, and when you gain confidence branch out farther, until you're comfortable in the dark.

    If it helps, based of 40+ years, I've come to the conclusion that a well lit bike stands out more and is more obvious to drivers in the dark, than even riding in the daytime.
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    These days it's easy and fairly inexpensive to equip your bike with lights (both headlight and tail light) that are at least as bright as regular car lights and will make you stand out better at night than you do during the daytime. The only time I'm concerned about night riding is when it's around the time that the bars close and their patrons hit the streets (especially in areas where neighboring towns have different closing times and you get mass migrations).

    I haven't seen that particular Cateye light in use, but based on the 7 hr runtime on highest setting with 2 AA cells indicates to me that it is only about a 1W light compared to many that have 10x or more power. If it doesn't give you enough light to feel secure there are lots of brighter ones. And don't neglect your tail light - I recommend using two since one could fail unexpectedly and you might not even notice immediately.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Headlights are important, but tail lights are more so. Get a bright strobing or flashing tail light, mount it on your bike, then walk back 100 yards and see what you'll look like. You want enough power to be obvious.

    Then it's a mater of getting out there and adjusting your vision to the light level. Start on a few simple rides around your neighborhood, and when you gain confidence branch out farther, until you're comfortable in the dark.

    If it helps, based of 40+ years, I've come to the conclusion that a well lit bike stands out more and is more obvious to drivers in the dark, than even riding in the daytime.
    Good advice. I'll try riding around in the neighborhood. This is the taillight I have: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1, a CatEye Rapid 3. I'll check out how it looks from a distance.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    These days it's easy and fairly inexpensive to equip your bike with lights (both headlight and tail light) that are at least as bright as regular car lights and will make you stand out better at night than you do during the daytime. The only time I'm concerned about night riding is when it's around the time that the bars close and their patrons hit the streets (especially in areas where neighboring towns have different closing times and you get mass migrations).

    I haven't seen that particular Cateye light in use, but based on the 7 hr runtime on highest setting with 2 AA cells indicates to me that it is only about a 1W light compared to many that have 10x or more power. If it doesn't give you enough light to feel secure there are lots of brighter ones. And don't neglect your tail light - I recommend using two since one could fail unexpectedly and you might not even notice immediately.
    Good point. I'll look into a brighter light. The street lights along my route are pretty good, except through a pretty dark part of a city park that is forested.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Thanks for the links 1nterceptor. Those are pretty cool.

  10. #10
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant Doofus View Post
    Thanks for the links 1nterceptor. Those are pretty cool.
    You're welcome. But really, the only way to get used to riding at night -
    is by riding at night. It's the same thing with hills, the only way to get
    used to hills is by riding them Are there any bike clubs in your area?
    Formal with paid dues and all, or informal like a bike shop club.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEwthddqM9U

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant Doofus View Post
    Good advice. I'll try riding around in the neighborhood. This is the taillight I have: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1, a CatEye Rapid 3. I'll check out how it looks from a distance.
    That's a decent bright taillight, though I'd consider backing it up with a second, maybe mounting one to the bike at the post or left seat stay and one on a belt, or off the back of a carrier or your saddle. This gives you a back up, and also two lights flashing at different speeds is very attention getting.

    I agree with Prathmann that your headlight leave much to be desired, unless street lamps are bright enough to ride by, which brings up a catch-22. In full dark, any light stands out, but at twilight, or where street lighting is good, it takes more brightness to stand out. So, while street lighting means you can see the road better, it also means that you stand out to cars worse.

    There are a number of reasonably priced LED array headlights, consider one.

    BTW- as you approach an intersection with a car waiting to come out from your right, or facing you waiting to make a left, swing your handlebars quickly right and left to sweep your beam across the driver's eye. This is a pretty effective attention getter, plus lets you see (maybe) which way the driver is looking.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
    You're welcome. But really, the only way to get used to riding at night -
    is by riding at night. It's the same thing with hills, the only way to get
    used to hills is by riding them Are there any bike clubs in your area?
    Formal with paid dues and all, or informal like a bike shop club.
    There are a few, but the ones I am aware of that do recreation-paced rides do them during the day. I don't have a road bike and couldn't keep up the faster paced rides even if I did! I'll call a couple of bike shops, though, to see if there is anything I've missed.

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    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    BTW- as you approach an intersection with a car waiting to come out from your right, or facing you waiting to make a left, swing your handlebars quickly right and left to sweep your beam across the driver's eye. This is a pretty effective attention getter, plus lets you see (maybe) which way the driver is looking.
    That's a great idea. Thanks.

  14. #14
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    As you look at the Lincoln Tunnel video, notice how much better the lights stood out in the dark, while both the bikes and the lights faded and blended with the low level ambient light of the tunnel.

    The lowest visibility isn't in the dark, it's in twilight. This time of year it's full dark when I ride home from work. But a month ago, I either got out early enough while it was still bright, or killed 1/2 an hour waiting for it to get darker. This is based on years of experience, and light checks of my own bike and lighting at various ambient light levels.
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  15. #15
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    Like you, I also used to try to avoid the night rides on my commute. Then, after riding it a few times with proper lights and reflective gear, I found this:

    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    I've come to the conclusion that a well lit bike stands out more and is more obvious to drivers in the dark, than even riding in the daytime.
    Not only does a well lit cyclist stand out more than even a hi-vis cyclist in the daytime, but drivers give me even more care at night.

    Another side benefit I found: My commute runs through some non-lit areas, on two lane roads with blind curves and hills. Surprise! Thanks to their headlights, I can see the oncoming cars before they come around the curve or clear the hilltop. Obviously this is not possible during the daytime.

    The biggest threat I've noticed at night are animals running out across my path. A wide angle headlamp beam helps alert me sooner.
    Last edited by AlmostTrick; 11-18-13 at 07:49 PM.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post


    Another side benefit I found: My commute runs through some non-lit areas, on lane roads with blind curves and hills. Surprise! Thanks to their headlights, I can see the oncoming cars before they come around the curve or clear the hilltop. Obviously this is not possible during the daytime.
    Not only that, headlights and your shadow projected ahead of you announce cars approaching behind me well in advance. Plus ascars come up, my shadow deflecting to the right tell me they're swinging out to give me plenty of room as they pass. If the shadow doesn't move as far to the right, I brace for a close pass. If it (hasn't happened yet) doesn't shift right, I'll steer off the road to avoid being taken from the back.

    Night riding offers many clues not available in the daytime, such as seeing a car approaching on a cross street at a blind intersection. But it does take some practice and getting used to seeing by light and shadow vs technicolor.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    As you look at the Lincoln Tunnel video, notice how much better the lights stood out in the dark, while both the bikes and the lights faded and blended with the low level ambient light of the tunnel.

    The lowest visibility isn't in the dark, it's in twilight. This time of year it's full dark when I ride home from work. But a month ago, I either got out early enough while it was still bright, or killed 1/2 an hour waiting for it to get darker. This is based on years of experience, and light checks of my own bike and lighting at various ambient light levels.
    This a Bad Time to be on The road

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  18. #18
    Senior Member LiteraryChic's Avatar
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    As I have stated before (to anyone that cares ... which is no one ... ... j/k ... I think) I am still new to this whole commuting thing, too, as much as I try not to seem like I am ... . It's funny I came across this thread, because today I was talking to my LBS guy who is keeping Lola in his shop (Goddess bless him!) until I can pick her up because I am having major plumbing issues in my 230 sq ft studio (I bring Lola in at night and keep her in my apartment instead of outside) and am currently "living" in the model at the complex thanks to the ncie people at the office, and we were talking about lights. I returned my Knog Blinder and Knog Party Frank that I got from him and he gave me store credit, and as we were chatting we were laughing because of how little the lux output on my front Reelight is (I'll be honest it really is not that good, but I guess it meets Dutch standards), so I strictly use it as a "be seen" type of thing, as well as my MonkeyLight 210's, and laughing at how "lit up" my bike sort of is, but then again how I need/would like an adequate headlight "to see" the road at night while I am riding. So, I am currently still looking. He suggested the new Knog Road Blinder - it has 200 lumens, but I would like something with a little more output. One of the posters (sorry can't remember who) suggested the Phillips Saferide and I am really leaning toward it, but am still unsure. I do NOT want to have a light with an external battery pack (had one and didn't like it, so I invested in the Reelights) I just find them too annoying too deal with. I want quick and easy on/off.

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble. Hope you have fun night riding.

    Edit: My MonkeyLights kinda make me look like lighted up a circus production (as one poster put it), and they do not really fit with my European/chic (half-fantasy/half-reality) biking life, but they are fun and I am definitely seen from the sides! I was reading a comment a few days ago on a review of the ML's and a poster from the Netherlands (bike capital of the world) said that if they had more "security" they would "sell like hotcakes" over there. I find that my ML's are pretty secure, even though it is a zip tie system, they would take some work to get off the bike and you have to take the battery pack, which is also zip tied on, so all in all, not too bad, and if someone really wants something, nothing is going to stop them.
    Last edited by LiteraryChic; 11-18-13 at 09:06 PM.
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  19. #19
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiteraryChic View Post
    As I have stated before (to anyone that cares ... which is no one ... ... j/k ... I think) I am still new to this whole commuting thing, too, as much as I try not to seem like I am ... . It's funny I came across this thread, because today I was talking to my LBS guy who is keeping Lola in his shop (Goddess bless him!) until I can pick her up because I am having major plumbing issues in my 230 sq ft studio (I bring Lola in at night and keep her in my apartment instead of outside) and am currently "living" in the model at the complex thanks to the ncie people at the office, and we were talking about lights. I returned my Knog Blinder and Knog Party Frank that I got from him and he gave me store credit, and as we were chatting we were laughing because of how little the lux output on my front Reelight is (I'll be honest it really is not that good, but I guess it meets Dutch standards), so I strictly use it as a "be seen" type of thing, as well as my MonkeyLight 210's, and laughing at the "lit up" my bike sort of is, but then again how I need/would like an adequate headlight "to see" the road at night while I am riding. So, I am currently still looking. He suggested the new Knog Road Blinder - it has 200 lumens, but I would like something with a little more output. One of the posters (sorry can't remember who) suggested the Phillips Saferide and I am really leaning toward it, but am still unsure. I do NOT want to have a light with an external battery pack (had one and didn't like it, so I invested in the Reelights) I just find them too annoying too deal with. I want quick and easy on/off.

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble. Hope you have fun night riding.
    Get over the battery pack hang up.

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  20. #20
    Senior Member LiteraryChic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Get over the battery pack hang up.

    Get two of these. Free Shipping

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00..._email_1p_0_ti
    Dang, 1200 lumens? I'm thinking one may do the trick! Thanks!

    Get two and have a spare battery.

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    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 11-18-13 at 09:07 PM.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Mr. Hairy Legs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    BTW- as you approach an intersection with a car waiting to come out from your right, or facing you waiting to make a left, swing your handlebars quickly right and left to sweep your beam across the driver's eye. This is a pretty effective attention getter, plus lets you see (maybe) which way the driver is looking.
    Yes! I also do this into rear view mirrors whenever I am about to make a pass from behind.

    Don't go cheap on the jacket - get the most insanely hi-viz thing you can find. Staying alive is worth it!

  22. #22
    Mmm hm! agent pombero's Avatar
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    Do not be afraid of the dark. The most critical thing you can do is buy the best lights possible. At a minimum you should be looking at a light 700 lumens +. Ideally you will have one 700+ on the bars lighting up the roadway on steady, and another 700+ on the helmet in flashing mode (the "hey I exist too! Now ya see me!" light).

    Thw more light the better. I have 2540 lumens and I am already looking to double, if not triple the num of lumz blasting from the front of my spacecraft.

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    IMO there's nothing better than a brisk night ride on smooth roads with little traffic. it can be daunting at first, but its great.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
    Not only does a well lit cyclist stand out more than even a hi-vis cyclist in the daytime, but drivers give me even more care at night.
    Perhaps because at night with strong lights a bicycle could be mistaken to be a vehicle by some drivers, while during daytime you are a plain cyclist. Drivers are more careful not to hit a vehicle than not to hit a cyclist, I guess.

  25. #25
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    Get a brighter light and taillight and start wearing reflective/high viz clothing. I'm not sure how bright your light is because most of them are rated in lumens these days rather than candlepower (just the name of that should make you wonder!). If you bought a light from a respected manufacturer that does not exaggerate ratings (such as Dinotte or Light & Motion), I am certain that you would notice a huge difference. My L&M Urban 500 puts out all of the light I need running on medium, and my Dinotte 140 taillight is like having a red headlight on the back of my bike. I also have a L&M Viz 360 on my helmet, which is great for stopping drivers from pulling out or turning in front of you.

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