One statistic suggests about a third of cycling fatalities occur at night. Nowhere near that fraction of cycling occurs at night. Do the math.
I think it's open to debate how safe it is to ride at night with proper lights, reflective materials, and sober.
Personally, I try to avoid it, but don't think it is unreasonably unsafe.
In the case at hand, no one knows what actually happened, but it appears that either the truck or the cyclists ran a red light, whcih may not have had much to do with whether it was dark.
Well, I understand this thread may get shut down, but I wish it wouldn't because I struggle with what I should do with this very issue.
I work Mon-Thur, need to leave for work at 7:10 and right now sunrise is 7am. I ride 4 days a week and my training works best with only Sat-Sun back-to-back rides; for the weekday rides I try to leave a day's recovery in between. My work day does not end at any regular time and if I schedule a weekday ride for after work, there's only about a 20% chance it will happen because I get stuck late at work a lot. So I ride before dawn usually. I'm a woman and I ride alone in the mornings. My choices are: 1. ride on bike paths alone in the dark, but our bike paths are along dry river beds and under road overpasses, exactly where creepy people hang out. I usually make a point of always riding on the road before dawn, but Tues AM, I broke my own rule, got on a bike path, went under a bridge and whizzed past a creepy guy standing quietly under that bridge in the dark. Of course, I can't let a situation develop such that the creepy guy under the bridge figures out that I'll be coming by every Tuesday morning at 5:40 am, 2. ride on the roads, where I risk being run over, 3. ride my trainer, which will work for one of my weekday rides but not the other (hill climbing) ride, 4. miss 80% of my weekday hill climbing rides if I need to put this in as a PM ride (some of which would also wind up being in the dark anyway).
Obviously there is no good answer here. Makes me sad.
As for riding in the dark, high quality front light on helmet and bars; high quality flashing rear tailight, and lots of reflective clothing, and/or reflective material on the bike.
Chose your routes to avoid particularly dangerous roads; and ride like you're invisible to cars, and I don't think you're taking an unreasonable risk.
Table 103 in this link. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811754AR.pdf
The question is what are the factors that are driving that number
for many years, to a number of different jobs, in different locations, many in various
towns here in California,) is my strategy of pretending that drivers do not see me.
Unless I've made eye contact (which you cannot do in the dark), I am presumed invisible.
Obviously, this changes your style of riding with the conditions.
I, too, given your description, would choose roads over creepy guys under the bridge, were I you.
My last job was 24 hour shifts, so i could ride each way at 7 or 8 in the morning, but even so I got
caught by the time change at certain points in the year. And the lights available now are a quantum
leap over what I had available to me as a commuter. Carpe diem.
Problem is that the data just aren't very reliable with regard to actual accident causes, with many listed as uknown, and the data on how many miles are ridden is not very good, and certainly not good for how many before and after dark.
Our club gave out light kits to local commuters (people who don't have a pot to piss in and use a bike to get to their micky-d's job at all hours of the day) because they just don't have the money to get some.
I do have good lights. No reflectors though and light but non-reflective clothes, so I could definitely make improvements there.
^ Riding at lunch may be more workable than you think. Bring the bike with you on the car. You don't have to take a shower after; towel off, baby wipes suffice.
And with the right set of intervals you can accomplish a lot in 45 minutes. So, if you schedule your day with a mid day break, you'll get home a little later, but you'll also have your ride for day done when you do get home.