What Kind of Gear Should I Wear to Bike at Night?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A bike wheel.
A bike wheel.

Biking at night can be dangerous if you are not using the right equipment. A large number of fatal biking accidents occur at night, primarily when cars overtake cyclists that they could not see from behind. By thinking ahead and wearing the correct gear, you can greatly reduce the risk of injury. It is also important to use common sense and obey traffic laws while you are biking at night. If you are driving at night, you should be especially aware of the potential for cyclists, and make sure to give them a wide berth.

Strapping a flashlight to a bicycle is a good idea for people planning to ride at night.
Strapping a flashlight to a bicycle is a good idea for people planning to ride at night.

The most important piece of gear for biking at any time is a bicycle helmet to protect your head. Make sure to purchase a helmet which fits you well, and replace it if you are involved in an accident. When biking at night, attach reflectors and/or a bicycle light to your helmet both in front and behind to make your head clearly visible. In addition to increasing your visibility to drivers, the helmet will also protect you if you are in an accident.

Wearing a helmet and bright, reflective clothing, as well as using reflectors and lights, are important to riding safely.
Wearing a helmet and bright, reflective clothing, as well as using reflectors and lights, are important to riding safely.

Most regions require cyclists to use reflectors and bicycle lights at night. Make sure that your wheels and pedals have reflectors that will help make you visible from the side and the back, and also mount reflectors behind your seat and in front of the handlebars. Use a bright, sturdy bike light on the front of the bike to help you see and increase visibility, and a smaller light to illuminate the area behind you. This will help to make you highly visible to drivers while you bike at night, and will also roughly outline the area of your bike so that drivers can avoid it.

A large number of biking accidents take place at night.
A large number of biking accidents take place at night.

Finally, dress with care when you bike at night. Try to wear reflective clothing, if possible, but at least wear white or another light color. In addition to protecting you while you bike, light clothing will make you a visible pedestrian as well. Many companies make shoes and gear for biking at night with reflective strips, or you can purchase a roll of reflective tape and cut segments for your pants and shirt. It also helps to wear reflective gloves.

Gloves can help keep hands warm when biking on chilly nights.
Gloves can help keep hands warm when biking on chilly nights.

If you are biking at night with a group, make sure to obey all prevailing traffic laws. You may find it more safe to bike in a line, rather than taking over a lane, as an inattentive driver may hit members of the group either by driving too quickly or mistaking reflectors for the lights of a distant car. Look out for other members of your group, and do not be shy about shouting or using a bicycle horn to alert them to dangers. Biking at night can be fun and safe, if you equip yourself properly.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Cageybird

@pollick, I never used to ride at night, but I found that getting a better light for the front of my bike made all the difference. A lot of people just mount what looks like a toy flashlight and think it's enough. What you really need is a professional headlight designed specifically for bikes. You can see just about anything that pops up in front of you, like a rock or an animal. Now I ride my trail bike to town and back at night just for the exercise.

pollick

Back in my biking days, I never really liked the idea of riding at night. I had all of those lights and reflectors to do it right, but it never felt safe to be out there. Cars weren't as much of problem as debris on the road and animals. I couldn't see rocks or trash or other stuff on the road ahead of me, so I had to ride much slower than usual.

I remember having some really weird creatures jump out at me from the side of the road. They were probably opossums or stray dogs, but they would scare me half to death and I'd have to swerve to avoid hitting them. All in all, I wouldn't recommend riding a bike at night unless you were in a group or knew the terrain really well. That's just my opinion.

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    • A bike wheel.
      A bike wheel.
    • Strapping a flashlight to a bicycle is a good idea for people planning to ride at night.
      Strapping a flashlight to a bicycle is a good idea for people planning to ride at night.
    • Wearing a helmet and bright, reflective clothing, as well as using reflectors and lights, are important to riding safely.
      Wearing a helmet and bright, reflective clothing, as well as using reflectors and lights, are important to riding safely.
    • A large number of biking accidents take place at night.
      A large number of biking accidents take place at night.
    • Gloves can help keep hands warm when biking on chilly nights.
      Gloves can help keep hands warm when biking on chilly nights.