Winter Night Biking Safety Tips
The Bay Area is regarded as one of the most bicycle-friendly regions in the United States. In fact, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland are all in America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities for 2013 as rated by Bicycling Magazine. In the Bay Area, you’ll see bikes and bicyclists across the entire spectrum: riding to work, distance riding through the hills, family fun in parks, and much, much more. And since the Bay Area doesn’t experience frozen roads of snow-ridden regions, biking can be a year-round excursion.
However, with the sun going down earlier in the heart of winter, the dangers of night biking become heightened. There are inherent risks with night biking, but you can put yourself in a position to be as safe as possible. Here are our office’s top tips for safe night biking.
Use common sense: A bike helmet is obviously the starting point for safety, but there’s much more you should do for night riding. Sensible additional gear, such as mirror attachments on both a helmet and a bright LED light on the handlebar, improve your awareness without requiring costing too much. It’s good to stay cautious of your surroundings, particularly moving cars, and to use hand signals as often as possible.
Stay visible: Bike pedals have reflectors built into them but there are other ways cyclists can make themselves visible. Reflector vests should be high on your purchase list. Smaller reflector bands can be worn on the arms and legs and adhesive strips can be placed on the bicycle itself. Wearable lights and tail lights provide additional visibility from behind. There’s no such thing as enough visibility, so use multiple reflector bands and strips, as well as a bright LED light.
Use crosswalks: In a perfect world, drivers would always be careful and attentive to their surroundings. However, that’s not always the case, and on busy city streets, one of the easiest ways to minimize risks is to use formal crosswalks and even walk your bike across the street in the crosswalk. It may slow you down, but it’ll guarantee that street lights will be on your side when you cross busy streets.
Take the road less traveled: If there are a number of ways to get from Point A to Point B, you may want to explore alternate routes that feature less traffic. As with the above point, it may take a little more time, but when the tradeoff is safety, it’s worth the investment.
Don’t bike with injuries: Nursing an injury? Then stay off the bike at night. Exercising with injuries takes away your focus, and when you’re navigating a bicycle at high speeds among moving cars, trucks, and buses, the tiniest bit of lost focus can mean the difference between safety and an accident. If you need help getting over an injury, chiropractic may help expedite your body’s healing process.
In San Francisco, traffic and pedestrians present many risks for night cyclists. Our office is located right by the Wiggle, so we see plenty of bikers come and go -- and because it’s San Francisco, we’ve seen poor decisions on both sides of the equation (car drivers and bikers). In 2011, the city painted more markers along the Wiggle to advise both drivers and bikers of safety concerns. While signs and markers are always helpful, our recommendation to night cyclists is to follow the above tips and remember to always be aware.
Need help with a cycling-related injury or want to make sure you’re staying at your optimal cycling level? Give us a call or fill out the contact form now. We'll perform an exam and let you know if chiropractic is appropriate for you.