Riding in the Evenings and at Night

We don't ride with kids at night very often.  They usually have a fairly early bedtime.  However, when we do expect to travel later in the day at dusk or at night, particularly in the spring and fall we make sure that we are as visible as possible.  We use a headlamp, very bright front bike light (1200 lumens, with 2 lower settings), two rear red blinking lights (just in case one goes out, and an extra one in our tool case), reflectors on the bike, and a bright yellow and orange reflective vest.  Visibility is key.  I won't go into all of the details of night riding (how to safely navigate, for example), but I will provide some resources for being seen.

Here is a video I enjoyed by Greg Hanscom on riding at night, and making sure people see you:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNcfhfcolws

The idea I particularly liked in this video was that he hung little reflective flags from his spokes to show movement.  Very cool.

You can also make your wheels light up with LEDs that are made for the purpose, or create your own setup.  There are many different products on the market for this purpose.  Here is a blog post on the subject:  http://blog.sfgate.com/bicycle/2012/12/01/get-your-spoke-lights/

Our bike lights:
Here is a list of our bike lights, with links to where you can buy or read reviews of them on Amazon.com.

This light occasionally goes on sale, sometimes for $30 or less: Rechargeable 1200-Lumen Bicycle Light
Image credit: Bright Eyes, Rechargable 1200 Lumen Bike Headlight

 It has worked very well for us and hasn't failed us yet.  I'm not completely sure about its long-term reliability, since it is so inexpensive, but I have found it is worth its price.  It is very bright, almost too bright.  I feel bad about shining this light in others' faces when on the bike path, so I try to keep it pointed down or partially covered.  Better too bright than too dark.  It is a light that will give you lots of light to see the road or trail ahead of you.  If you are riding in the city where you just want to be seen, it is probably overkill.  Its probably worth a lot more than $30 or $40, but we've only had it for a couple of years (several night rides each season), but I can't provide a real LONG-TERM perspective of several years yet.  I'll update this when we have some more rides with it, or if it fails.

This is my favorite tail light:  Portland Design Works Danger Zone Light.  I think it has a good long-term track record, and a good price when at around $20-22.  I love the different modes and brightness, particularly the slow alternating flash.

Here is a good inexpensive backup at under $10, primarily for night-time use:
BV Bicycle 3-LED Tail Light

It might not have enough light for some folks for daytime visibility, but it does the job at night.  As with any electronics, you generally get what you pay for, so understand that there may be quality control issues with less expensive lights.  I keep a couple of inexpensive lights with me as backups (since they are so small and light these days).

We have multiple headlamps, but this is my favorite one: The Zebralight H52W
It uses just a single AA battery (very common), and provides a LOT of light for a long time.  It can run on many different kinds of AA batteries.  I love the user-interface.  I'm really partial to the Zebralight brand, as this light has held up as well as or better than any of my others over the decades.  I've had this light for several years and use it every couple of days on average.  Make sure to keep an extra battery with you, just in case, particularly if you are using it on high mode for a long time.  I use it not just for biking, but everything else.  Although there are a LOT of good headlamps out there, IMO this is the best light for the money for our needs.  Plus, I don't like plastic.

Giving headlamps to the passengers of a cargo bike is a nice thing to do as well, and putting reflectors on the kids' helmets makes sense.  Bring a couple of backups.

If you want to go all out, here's an interesting solution (I don't have any experience with one of these or any kind of relationship with the creator, I just thought it was innovative):  Torch T2 Bike Helmet with Integrated Lights

Image credit: Indiegogo Torch T2

Enjoy your night riding!   Do you have any recommendations?  Feel free to comment on what works for you.


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