With summer behind us, the days ahead are shorter and darker. If you’re a cyclist in the Vancouver area, that means a change of clothing and a change of mindset. While most other Canadians are locking up their bikes for the season, milder weather on the West Coast allows us to cycle year-round.
But biking in the dark and rainy months is not the same as a sunny summer ride. Here are a few safety tips for biking at night.
Prep your bike
A change of season is always a good time to get a tune-up. Make sure your gears and brakes are working and that your tires are properly inflated. Good brakes are needed for sudden stopping on wet or leaf-covered pavement.
Get a light
If you are biking after dark, you must have a white headlight and a rear red light and a reflector on your bike. Some night cycling fans recommend a white light mounted on the front of your bike and one on your helmet. Just make sure you can see and be seen.
Dress for the dark
An all-black outfit is smart attire for a night on the town, but not for night biking. Make sure to wear clothing that is not only comforting and comfortable, but also bright and reflective. A reflective vest is a good thing to have on hand for those rides in the dark.
Adjust your speed
Vancouver is notoriously wet in the fall and you’re not riding the Tour de France. So on those rainy days, slow down. Wet pavement is slick and it doesn’t make for a cushy landing. And for road cycling, the combination of car exhaust and rain makes for a slippery mess – so take caution.
Choose your path
If you’re a daily bike commuter plan your ride ahead. Choose well-lit trails and if possible use our network of protected bike lanes. The City of Vancouver has great resources for planning your route and a growing number of bike trails.
For more information
- When mere paint won’t do it: Bike lanes around the world, The Province
- Spray-On Reflector from Volvo Makes Night Cycling Safer, PSFK.com
- A Cyclist’s Guide to Dressing for Fall Rides, Bicycling.com
- Local biking trailblazer Rob Venables gives Vancouver cycling tips, The Georgia Straight
- Cycling in Vancouver, City of Vancouver