riding at night

The best bit of advice I was ever given about riding a bike was from my Dad along with a copy of “Richards Bicycle Book”. It went pretty much along the lines of, get out of the gutter and make yourself obvious.

There is a lot to be said for riding, especially at night, in a manner that gets you noticed but without being a nuisance to other road users.

As we are recovering from the Xmas spend and in the throes of pursuing our new resolutions, I’ll focus on the commuter cyclist.

1) GET FED AND COMFORTABLE

20% of our calories are used in the brain just keeping us going. The amount of processing our small on-board computers does behind the scenes, is quite incredible: left leg, right leg, fingers on brakes, changing gear, pedestrians, cars, turning, doors opening, eyes all over and all that’s before we consider what’s for tea. Obvious things like gloves and a jacket with some reflective patterns work wonders at helping us feel relaxed, but a simple Buff neck scarf can keep the draft out and allow you to concentrate on riding and let your computer, compute. www.buffwear.co.uk

2) WORK IN PAIRS

Spending more time in my car than on my bike, I really notice cyclists who have thought about their looks. Not so much the crash helmet colour or derailleur set but how they are seen. A pair of lights from the market at £4.99 is better than nothing but a good pairs of lights at both the sharp and blunt ends work much better. We, as motorists, recognise many things without having to compute their identity. Zebra crossings, red brake lights, junctions and so on. Having a pair of lights on the handlebars near the grips doesn’t necessarily double the lumen but can be more automatically recognised as a vehicle of some sort. Having a driver do a double take before pulling out, is worth the other half of a pair of lights.

3) WATCH YOUR EYES

While out on my old GT in the Christmas break, I forgot to wear my safety specs and after being hit in the face by a puddle, I almost ended up in a hedge. Yes, safety specs, Non coloured, Non expensive, Non cycling safety specs from Screwfix. (bit of a mouthful!) With the amount of rain we’ve had recently, getting splashed is a given and keeping a gritty, oily puddle out of your eyes will let you avoid the impending hedge or back of a car for the grand sum of £6.99. And they can look pretty cool too! www.screwfix.com

4) GET CHARGED UP

We can all have the best intentions with carefully mounted and cleaned lights that cost a small fortune, but not having them at full power is somewhat defeatist. Cars, street furniture, shops and other cyclists mean there are a lot of lights to keep us all distracted. Blending in with the background is the easy part, but doing some research into the battery life and then charging your lights appears to be the hard part. By charging them, we also get to play with some of our gadgets too!

5) NO THANK YOU

There are an ever growing number of videos on social media about foolish cyclists not to mention the rude ones. Yes, get slightly in the way and out of the gutter, and don’t be a humble or meek cyclist. But when a motorist is obviously making space for you or letting you go, that small wave of thanks, or even the exaggerated nod, is always really appreciated. It would appear that more motorcyclists give that nod, or the leg out thank you, than us cyclists do. Those small bits of communication really work wonders.

I suppose in a nutshell one could say, be polite, warm and fed, bright and obvious, but mostly be confident. Know your route and your roads and that way you’ll not find yourself hugging the curb while you think.

 

About the Author: Aidan Gribbin the creator of the new Brightside bike light is a keen cyclist but spends more time behind the wheel than his handlebars. After a near miss with a cyclist on a roundabout, Aidan designed a light to shine from the sides of the bike, filling in the (rather large) unlit gap between the front and rear lights.  This double ended, amber, rechargeable light focuses solely on the sides of the bike, and shines and flashes like most other bike lights. Launched at the NEC Cycle Show and with the first batch having arrived in December, this light is fast becoming the “must have”, for lots of commuter cyclists.

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