If you look at the statistics about when bicycle/vehicle collisions occur, anywhere from 40%-60% of injuries and fatalities happen during the hours of darkness, despite the fact that a much smaller percentage of cycling actually takes place then.
This is due to two factors. First, during the evening and overnight hours a significantly greater portion of both cyclists and drivers are intoxicated than you'd find during the day. The second factor (and the one that we're going to address with this article) is the difficulty that motorists have in seeing cyclists.
I suppose you could promise yourself that you'll only ride during daylight hours. But the fact is, for many bike commuters, riding in darkness is a fact of life, particularly during the winter when the daylight hours are so much shorter. Plus, you'd also miss out on a lot of fun riding opportunties, whether that is for mountain biking at night or another crazy and fun bike event. So, we're going to look at how you can light yourself up in a way that is both effective and fairly easy on your pocketbook.
Things to consider in assessing headlights:
- What type of battery does it use?
- Are the batteries rechargable?
- How many hours of run time does the light have before draining the batteries?
Halogen and LED bulbs are both good choices for delivering strong, bright light. Expect to pay $25 and up for lights that allow you to be seen by drivers; more ($100+) for stronger lights to help you see, i.e., strong illumination for your path as you go down the road. The NiteRider MiNewt Pro 750 is a good example of this type of light.
As a bonus tip, beyond just lights if you really want to be seen, you want to get yourself the brightest colored reflective vest or jacket you can find. Though it may feel just a touch dorky the first time you wear it, your goal is to be as visible to motorists as possible. A bonus is that when you're not riding, you can also wear these vests to direct traffic, go deer hunting or just pick up trash alongside the road.
When you combine that with a reflective strap worn around your ankle or calf, you're really jamming. The strap is designed to pick up lights from headlights, and the fact that it's moving up and down when you pedal makes it that much more visible to others.