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Should you ride your bike at night?

You don't only use your bike as a hobby or a way to stay in shape. It's your main mode of transportation. That means that you're not just riding it to work or pedaling around on the weekends. You're riding all the time. But you're not sure if you should ride after dark.

Say you go to a friend's house for the evening. You eat, drink, watch a movie and then head back to your apartment. You rode there, so you don't want to take an Uber and have to come back and pick your bike up the next day. Should you ride home at night? Why does it seem so frightening, compared to riding during the day?

The good and the bad

There are some upsides and downsides here. Reduced visibility is clearly a downside, especially when it pertains to how well drivers can see you. At the same time, you know there is less traffic after dark, and it stands to reason that riding on empty roads is safer.

Odds are that riding at night is frightening because you're not used to it. It's new. You can do it safely and it is definitely legal, but it scares you because you're so used to those mid-day rides.

Getting started

One way to start feeling a bit more comfortable is to go on a bike path, preferably a lighted one. This way, you do not have to worry about cars, so you get a low-stress environment. You can get used to riding in the dark and get comfortable on your bike. Then you can head out on the road.

Other tips that can help include the following:

  • Get a bright light for the front of your bike. It not only lights your path, but it also gives you confidence that others can see you.
  • Get a red flashing light that you can put on the back of the bike, as well. This way, you do not get hit by cars that are overtaking you in the dark.
  • Wear clothes with reflective material. As with during the day, bright clothes are best -- orange, red, or lime green -- but even they do not work well at night. Reflective material does.
  • Buy reflective stickers that you can put on your bike and/or your helmet.
  • Try to stick to routes that you have already taken at least once during the day. This way, nothing really takes you by surprise.
  • Consider riding with a friend or a group when possible. A string of bikes with their lights on is more visible than just one.

All of these tips can help you ride safely, but accidents do happen. Make sure you know your rights in Illinois if you get injured.

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