It is starting to get dark out earlier here on the top side of the world and we need to stay safe while biking as the sun starts setting sooner. Getting caught in the dark can be stressful if you are not prepared.
First and foremost it is important to remember safety and visibility is paramount. Knowing that the darkness is coming sooner here are 8 suggestions to help you stay safe during the evening hours:
- Rear lights. The rear lights that are battery operated allow you to stand out where you are most vulnerable, when a car comes up from the rear. Make yourself visible.
- Front lights. The front light is the second most important piece of equipment. It allows you to see the road and oncoming cars to see you as well. Get as strong a light as possible. With the LED lights you can get very high Lumens at low energy requirements.
- Brightly colored jacket. Preferably one of the yellow neon jackets. These make you much more visible when a light is shined upon you as well. Additionally, they keep you protected from the rain and weather.
- Blinking light on backpack or helmet. One of these devices helps you to stick out more through the rapidly blinking light.
- Reflectors on your wheels. When a car is coming onto your perpendicular to you these reflectors help you to stick out further.
- A bell. Sometimes while riding you come across pedestrians who may not being paying attention and a bell can help communicate quickly that there is a bike rider nearby.
- Choose lightly traveled routes. This applies in summer as well. However, in winter it applies even more. Find paths where cars move the slowest, or not at all.
- Cell phone. Keep your charged cell phone on you, so if you do get into further trouble you are able to call home or call a taxi to give you a hand.
These simple tips will keep you safe and let you be a night rider too.
One of the great things about riding in the summer are the long sunny days, and getting to enjoy the warmth. However, with the summer fun also come the bugs. And bugs tend to get in your eyes.
My current bike path takes me by some fields and the fields are generally FILLED with bugs and as I am riding past the fields, the bugs seem to always find their way into my eyes. If you have not had that pleasure, I can tell you it stings. On top of the stinging, it is a distraction and we want to avoid distractions especially when we are sharing the road with cars.
Therefore, in order to avoid bugs in the eyes, I recommend sunglasses. I like the kind that are fairly aerodynamic. They do the best at minimizing the probability of bugs still getting into your eyes. However, any type of sunglasses works, just get something that is comfortable and sturdy.
As soon as fall and winter come, my glasses strategy totally changes and I find riding sans glasses much better. I find that they fog up to easily, and are more of a hindrance than a help. Additionally, as the days grow shorter, I need as much light as possible to see the roads well.
Tell me what you think, good luck and have fun riding J
Obviously, once you make the decision to bike to work you need to figure out how to get there. The way that you take by car may not be the best way by bike. How do I choose the best way to get there? The process is pretty easy.
- What is the distance to your work? Anything less than 10 miles (16 km) is quite doable. This is the Go/No-Go check.
- Next pull up google maps and search from home to work. I used to live in Ohio, so I will take that as an example. By car my trip was 5.9 miles to and from work. Below is a picture of the drive. The long vertical road is Snider Road. A very narrow road that is heavily trafficked by cars. If a bike was on this road itwould slow traffic down, piss off a bunch of drivers and put you into a dangerous situation.
- Google, has added some biking and walking options. Reviewing these might be a good option to see what is recommended. However, I still did not like these recommendations, so I zoomed in and looked for parallel paths that drastically reduced my traffic exposure.
- I found the path below that eliminated the amount of time that I was on heavily traveled roads. This route was 7.4 miles, and much safer for me as a biker. It went through multiple housing developments, parks and finally some bike paths.
- Next I biked it on weekend and made sure the path worked, and there were no surprises.
- Finally, get on your bike and give it a try on your work day.
Some other things that I would add as well, find routes that are asphalt or concrete. Avoid dirt paths if at all possible. As soon as it gets wet the dirt flies up onto your bike and your cleaning load for the bike goes up significantly.
This strategy should help you to work out a good commuting plan. Finding the right path is 70% of the problem solved. Good luck, happy riding and let me know any additional tips you have.
Getting caught in bad weather is no fun. You need to be prepared, ALWAYS. Once I was caught unprepared and I did not have a good time. Thankfully it was a nice summer day and as I was riding home from work it started to rain, actual it was more like being in a shower and I was drenched. It was so bad that it took three days for my shoes to dry out. I learned from my drubbing and decided to buy a couple of things to make myself fairly immune to water.
Bright yellow rain jacket – My personal recommendation is the yellow O2 rain jacket. I like the fact that there zippers are sealed and I have a little pocket for my mobile phone. I have had mine for 4 years. Although, the yellow is faded because I have washed it a number of times, it has lost its luster, and is still bright enough.
Full length zipper pants – I recommend these rain pants because you have the full zipper up the side and can wear your work clothes under these pants and remove the rain gear without problems. Make sure and get a size larger than you normally need so that you can wear work clothes.
If you wear a backpack than you will need a backpack rain cover as well. I keep mine in my work backpack at all times, and if it starts to rain than I can take it out and wrap it around the backpack to keep it dry.
Lights – as the weather turns to the worse you need to make yourself even more visible to traffic. You need the rear and front lights to make yourself shine.
Winter and cold weather additional equipment:
Water proof gloves – you want to keep your hands warm and dry. If you need your hands to apply your brakes, than the gloves are doubly important to ensure your fingers work properly. I have two sets of gloves, one for heavy winter, sub-freezing temperatures and ones that are lighter and more for late Fall and early Spring. Both are waterproof though. Keep yourself dry.
Booties – These are waterproof little booties that you can pull over your shoes that keeps them dry and warm.
I know this seems pretty extreme to have this extra equipment to handle bad weather, but it allows you to ride in pretty bad weather and still enjoy yourself. The military taught me to be prepared for everything and that is you are doing. Be Prepared and you will still enjoy yourself.
Let me know if you have any other tips for making yourself waterproof and making your commute to work on your bike enjoyable.