Light up your night bike riding to stay safe

Now that we’ve fallen back to standard time, it gets dark early in New York — sunset tonight was at 4:52 p.m. and of course it gets even earlier between now and winter solstice.

Because we like to bike around Brooklyn, that means we’re riding in the dark a lot these days.

I cringe every time I see a fellow biker with no lights. Not only is having a white front light and a red rear light the law, it’s just good common sense to make yourself visible to drivers, pedestrians and other bikers. You wouldn’t drive your car at night without turning on your lights, would you?

Meanwhile I get frequent compliments and comments because I am lit up like a Christmas tree when I ride.

Colleen with bike lights and vest

Even though there are more of us biking, I assume many drivers spent decades with the roads all theirs and they might not be used to looking for us. If I’m flashing like a rolling disco, I make it harder for drivers to forget I’m there.

Here’s some of what I use to keep myself visible:

  • bright blue flashing lights from Bike Brightz, which I ziptie to my frame so I’m visible from the side — I’m a big fan of Bike Brightz both because you can see them from an impressive distance and because one of my husband’s lights died shortly after we bought it and the company replaced it quickly and cheerfully
  • fairy light wires strung through my spokes, which sort of become a blue blur as I speed up
  • super bright front flashlight that can either strobe or act as a headlight
  • the Vespretty vest from NYC company Vespertine, featuring silver sequins and 3M Scotchlite reflective fabric — I probably get more comments on this vest than anything else about my safety gear, because it’s so flashy. I wrote a guest blog post for Vespertine because I love that they make safety fun and pretty.

Adding all these lights to my New York bike was inspired by Ritchie and Mindy Jordan in New Orleans, organizers of a weekly cruiser ride and hosts of a series of parties to help NOLA bikers funkify their wheels. People add Mardi Gras beads, sequins, tassels, toys, pipe cleaners, anything that speaks to their imagination and desire to make a one-of-a-kind bike.

Ritchie and Mindy’s bikes are rolling works of art. We bought bikes in 2011 that they’ve housed for us since, loaning them out when we aren’t in town and requiring anyone who uses them to add one more piece of bling. Often when we arrive in New Orleans and pick up our bikes, they have even more lights than the last time we saw them, like these battery-powered Christmas lights on the handlebars and the glowing butterfly wings. 

The party's on two wheels!
So if you ride at night with a pitch-black bike because you’ve thought lights were sort of lame, just a requirement you’re supposed to follow, I submit that it can be a lot of fun to add way more lights than you probably need and really ensure no one misses you as you roll by.

Categories: lifestyle

4 replies

  1. You might be interested in the Torch2 helmet that I just backed on Kickstarter. It is now available for sale. Google it. The lights are integrated into the helmet.

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