Commuting in the dark?

Juddlinski
Juddlinski Posts: 54
edited September 2013 in Road general
Summer is over. The night's are drawing in. The sun lays down it weary head and beckons Jack Frost to the fore...
I only started commuting by bike a couple of months ago, so it's all new to me...
Tell me, do you keep commuting all year round, when the clocks go back and it's dark? Or do you give it a break?
I basically commute from Harrow to Marylebone via the Edgware Road, so it's a pretty busy route, and Im not sure how risky it is in the dark...

Comments

  • chris_bass
    chris_bass Posts: 4,913
    I've not cycled in London at rush hour so not sure what that's like but I find sometimes with the right lighting you can actually be more visible when it's dark than day light.

    invest in some decent lights and you should be fine.
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    For London commute advise head over to the commuting section. Loads of advice there.

    I will continue to ride like I did last year. But I'm out in the sticks and whilst the road is busy it doesn't have many junctions - so less traffic crossing my path.
  • jds_1981
    jds_1981 Posts: 1,858
    I go for one bright light, one flashy light (front and back) and a flouro yellow running top (from sports direct.) Then just need to layer up sufficiently that you're warm, even if soaked through. Nice merino base layer.
    FCN 9 || FCN 5
  • rubertoe
    rubertoe Posts: 3,994
    Just get some decent lights and keep going, there is no need to be affraid of the dark...
    "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

    PX Kaffenback 2 = Work Horse
    B-Twin Alur 700 = Sundays and Hills
  • Phil_D
    Phil_D Posts: 467
    Just make sure you can be seen. If you glimmer, you are probably more visible than you would be in the daytime during the summer.

    When you're driving your car around in the dark, keep an eye out for cyclists and evaluate what they are wearing to help you decide what are good and bad ideas.

    After you've made yourself visible, all you have to worry about is the visibility of what you are riding into. If there are plenty of street lights, great. If not, you'll need something to illuminate all those potholes.
  • I actually feel safer in the dark than in the daytime, given I'm lit like an aircraft and wear yellow stuff. No reason to stop...you just need to be very aware that when it rains, cars will have difficulty seeing you and when approaching a junction, if there's a car or bus or whatever behind you, it's far mroe dificult for a car driver to see you.
  • The only time i don't commute by bike is the week just after the clocks go back as it seems to take a week or two for drivers to get used to driving in the dark ... Had a few encounters in that week before and now just sit it out and go out later instead. Always a bit cautious when the sun starts getting low in the sky and either use paths for sections into the sun or use my rear lights on full power to make sure i'm seen. Seems to be working so far.

    Apart from that i quite enjoy cycling in the dark to/from work and find i enjoy it more than riding in the daylight, apart from the cold.
  • Should add that using two rear lights, with different battery runtimes, is a really good idea so you don't get caught out if one dies or dismounts from the bike e.g. When hitting a pothole.

    Any reflective detail on clothing will also help, and if its on your longs or shoes then its going to make it obvious to any cars that its a bike ahead due to the up/down motion.
  • iPete
    iPete Posts: 6,076
    In the dark, Hope District on the back pumping out an ocean of red light, I actually feel safer and cars genuinely give me more room.
  • jotko
    jotko Posts: 457
    Anyone looking for a good deal on lights, I just scored some of these (spotted in the bargains thread)

    http://www.stonehengecycles.com/product ... _light_set

    Reviews:

    Road.cc review of front light
    Road.cc review of rear light
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    BigLights wrote:
    you just need to be very aware that when it rains, cars will have difficulty seeing you and when approaching a junction, if there's a car or bus or whatever behind you, it's far mroe dificult for a car driver to see you.
    That's why it's a good idea to have a front FLASHING light - it makes you stand out a bit more ... but it does need to be powerful

    IMG_2087.jpg

    A Cateye Nanoshot + on full power - obviously not raining though ...
    Oh - it is handlebar mounted too - powerful helmet mounted lights can confuse drivers.
  • simonhead
    simonhead Posts: 1,399
    One thing i do always carry just in case is a red chemical light. Its a just in case thing and only every used it once but its useful if your light fails
    Life isnt like a box of chocolates, its like a bag of pic n mix.
  • Reflective 3M tape on mudguards, backs of pedals, seatpost etc is a good idea too. If your bike kit is black then get the black tape - it's just as reflective as the white/silver.

    FWIW - hi-viz is only really effective in dull daylight - at night it's the reflectives bits that are effective. That and your lights.
  • The only time i don't commute by bike is the week just after the clocks go back as it seems to take a week or two for drivers to get used to driving in the dark ... Had a few encounters in that week before and now just sit it out and go out later instead. Always a bit cautious when the sun starts getting low in the sky and either use paths for sections into the sun or use my rear lights on full power to make sure i'm seen. Seems to be working so far.

    Apart from that i quite enjoy cycling in the dark to/from work and find i enjoy it more than riding in the daylight, apart from the cold.

    that sounds like great advice about the clocks going back - makes perfect sense - thanks!
  • redvee
    redvee Posts: 11,922
    FWIW - hi-viz is only really effective in dull daylight - at night it's the reflectives bits that are effective. That and your lights.

    In work we have to wear hi-viz reflective jackets and it's the reflective strips that I see on people in the back of trailers etc rather than the hi-viz material the strips are on. On my rear mudguard I have black reflective tape that is invisible in daylight but when headlights shine on it, it reflects. Obviously I have two lights on the bike and one on my helmet which is always moving given the nature of riding.
    I've added a signature to prove it is still possible.
  • jordan_217
    jordan_217 Posts: 2,580
    The flashing front and rear lights that Tesco sell are ace. They cost £2 and the flash is brighter than a Knog light that I also have. I use one on the bars, and two on my helmet - one at the front, one at the rear. They fit snugly inside my vents and the supplied strap is long enough to secure them.

    http://www.tesco.com/direct/activequipm ... d=212-0834

    I put them in the recycling when the batteries run out as it's cheaper to buy a new one rather than a new battery. Run time is pretty good though.

    This has also just arrived at work, looks good and gets some good reviews:

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/respro-hi-viz-helmet-band/
    “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”
  • I prefer commuting in the dark. Road are quieter and the air is cooler too.

    Invest in some decent winter kit and good lights and you'll be fine.

    I went berserk and bought some Moon lights - expensive but top notch. Can't put a price on safety :D
  • jotko
    jotko Posts: 457
    johnny25 wrote:
    I went berserk and bought some Moon lights - expensive but top notch. Can't put a price on safety :D

    See link I posted above for Moon XP500 and Shield 60 for £85 posted - bargain
  • redvee
    redvee Posts: 11,922
    johnny25 wrote:
    I prefer commuting in the dark. Road are quieter and the air is cooler too.

    One option on my commute is along a 2 mile long bus lane that is 15' wide and the bus service it is intended for finishes 3 hours before I leave work.

    http://t.co/GZuo0GVwoF
    I've added a signature to prove it is still possible.
  • MichaelW
    MichaelW Posts: 2,164
    Flashing vs solid lights?
    There have been a few threads on this. In my experience, a single flashing light makes it difficult for drivers to judge distance. If you want to flash, get a second light.
    If you flash, make sure the frequency is high enough. Low freq blinkies can have an extended dark phase that makes them easy to miss in a quick glance.
    Dusk is the most dangerous time. Hi viz is starting to become less useful than in daylight and lights don't yet stand out as they do in the dark. I find that flashing lights are most useful in poor light.
  • jotko wrote:
    johnny25 wrote:
    I went berserk and bought some Moon lights - expensive but top notch. Can't put a price on safety :D

    See link I posted above for Moon XP500 and Shield 60 for £85 posted - bargain

    +1 I got the XP300 + Shield 60 last year and was running it right through the winter on dark country lanes and it gave plenty of light and they come with plenty of mounting options. Withstood some pretty serious amounts of water too. £85 is definitely a bargain (and the XP500 should be even brighter than the XP300)....
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    MichaelW wrote:
    Flashing vs solid lights?
    There have been a few threads on this. In my experience, a single flashing light makes it difficult for drivers to judge distance. If you want to flash, get a second light.
    Flashing in daylight is fine - flashing in the dark should ideally be done, as you say, with a constant light on too. The Cateye Nanoshot + has this constant on plus flash in one unit.
  • monkimark
    monkimark Posts: 1,503
    I don't generally drive - motorbike and bicycle get me where I need to go but yesterday I needed to hire a car and drive through town.

    Driving across London in the dark, I really noticed the flashing lights of passsing cyclists. They catch your attention in the wing mirrors in a way that solid lights don't - useful when you're filtering down the inside of traffic for large parts of the commute.
    Also, the reflective bits on the front of a high viz vest reflect the glow of brake lights suprisingly well.

    I like to wear a small flashing helmet light so I can be seen over the top of cars etc. The best light in the world is no use if it's hidden.
  • Don`t bother with the expensive brands for front lights. I`ve tried a few but last year bought two of these from the `bay. High, low and disco strobe mode. Bright enough to ride unlit sections with no problems and car drivers flash you to turn them down if you have them on high - they are that bright. Re-chargeable battery runtime is about 3-4hrs too.
    Well worth the money and loads of different sellers. Have a look on Amazon too.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CREE-XML-XM-L ... 600wt_1087
  • hatch87
    hatch87 Posts: 352
    My issue with flashing lights, is cars joining the road. I'm sure they see a flashing light, think pushbike and pull out so they don't get stuck behind them without taking into account the speed or distance. If you have a bright torch then initially you look like a motorbike/scooter which at least makes the driver think you'll being going that bit faster so they look that bit longer.
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/686217
    Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of a bitch! Blow! It's time for a showdown! You and me! I'm right here! Come and get me!