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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: kimmarg on August 01, 2013, 09:11:08 PM

Title: Bike commuting at night
Post by: kimmarg on August 01, 2013, 09:11:08 PM
Can anyone give me some hints or motivation for bike commuting at night? I have a 15 mile commute, with hills. I'm not so scared of the distance, but the fact that due to my hours, one leg will always be in the dark. There are no street lights (ok, a few at an intersection) and no bike lanes. I do have reflective gear, but the last time I biked at night I missed a pothole and nearly fell off my bike.
Title: Re: Bike commuting at night
Post by: m8547 on August 01, 2013, 10:39:08 PM
You need a headlight that's bright enough to see with, as opposed to most small ones that are only good enough to be seen. I would recommend a rechargeable mountain biking light starting at around $100. You probably need at least 200-300 lumens, but more is better as long as you aren't blinding cars. I like NiteRider lights for their compact package (no battery packs or wires), though they are not the best in terms of light per dollar.

Gloworm lights are also supposed to be good, though I haven't used them. Here's the only US distributor I could find:
This light will be almost as bright as car headlights.

There are definitely much cheaper lights that put out the same light (Magicshine and others), but if you are using it all the time for commuting you probably want something reliable that is going to last.
Title: Re: Bike commuting at night
Post by: frompa on August 02, 2013, 05:36:01 AM
Ditto on the lights suggestion.  Do whatever you have to to have a lighting set up that is easy to use and effective for your circumstances.  I have a generator system I built around my front wheel hub, so I ALWAYS have a front (white) and rear (red) light.  If I'm going on a really dark trail or it's snowy or foggy, I'll also use my helmet mounted battery powered incredibly bright light. 

As for motivation, well, hell, why not?? It's a relaxing and fine thing to buzz along a road in the dark.  As long as you can be seen and see yourself, you will be safe.  I sometimes think I am more safe riding in the dark, as usually there's less traffic and I'm lit up so I must look like an alien invader --- freakishly noticeable to drivers. 

I don't know if you're in a rural area for any part of your route, but a few times at night I've encountered deer by the roadside, and I don't know who was more startled, them or me.  One time, I swear this huge creature was less than a foot away from me.  Scared the living crap out of me.  So, the noiselessness of a bike can put you at some risk there; I've learned to whistle or hum loudly when I ride in an area likely to harbor that sort of wildlife. 
Title: Re: Bike commuting at night
Post by: kimmarg on August 02, 2013, 08:13:02 AM
Thanks for the suggestions for lights. What I have now gets me seen, but doesn't do much for me seeing deer, etc.

Maybe I'll do a few shorter test rides to figure it out. If I can get myself past the dark I should be able to ride through Oct. I guess you are right about it potentially being relaxing. The thought of getting home at 11:45pm instead of 10:30pm had been keeping me driving, but I guess I don't usually get to bed until midnight anyways, so might as well bike.