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The Dark Side of Bike Commuting...

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The Dark Side of Bike Commuting...

Old 11-13-19, 03:19 PM
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BobbyG
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The Dark Side of Bike Commuting...

Work commitments kept me from riding last week, the first week after the time change. I was able to ride Monday night, and last night (Tuesday) was the first time I rode my "new" Chelton Road route after sunset. The dark parts are not as dark as they look in the video...but even still I found myself trying to remember any specific hazards that may be hard to spot in the shadows. (None)

Also, a half mile of MUP takes me past a homeless camp, and I was worried there would be people loitering on the trail to take advantage of the sparse lighting. I wasn't worried about being in danger, rather I was worried about not seeing people and hitting them, or alarming them. There are a couple of streetlamps on my other routes that attract nocturnal socializing, but I am familiar with where they are. Turns out I had nothing to worry about.

I got a good look at the stop and go traffic on the highway before passing under it, and I saw a couple of red light runners, one of whom triggered the white flash of wrath from the red light camera (Yay!) Monday night I counted four red-light runners. Normally I see one a month, if that. Perhaps the time change has something to do with it.

Also, I rode my main commuter last night with its smooth road tires, but Monday there was a chance of freezing drizzle, so Monday I too my big, heavy MTB-based snow bike with its studded snow tires. It stayed dry, so I pumped up the tires to 70psi, 5 above the recommended max. It made a big difference, and the big bike rolled better than it ever had on the studded tires at 65psi and below.

Here are the highlights from last nights ride

Last edited by BobbyG; 11-14-19 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 11-14-19, 05:56 AM
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I commute by bicycle in the dark only if it’s not raining or foggy and if I know the rout very well. It’s just not safe in my opinion. At least here in the NW. People just don’t obey the traffic laws much anymore and are in to much of a hurry, again here in the NW.

In the bad weather days I’ll take my motorcycle or in really bad days I’ll take the motorcycle with a sidecar.
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Old 11-14-19, 02:11 PM
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I like the finish w/ the doorbell video!
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Old 11-14-19, 04:01 PM
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I like commuting in the dark. Makes me and the cars a lot more visible with proper lights.

Yep, studded tires can roll a lot faster at high PSI when you get those studs off the ground (depending on how many you have).
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Old 11-16-19, 08:02 PM
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I've always enjoyed riding in the dark, either commuting early in the morning or touring across the desert. I agree that when commuting my lights and reflective clothing make me more visible, and usually when it's dark there are fewer people/cars out and about.
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Old 11-18-19, 04:39 PM
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I use 2 1100 lumen Cygolite Metro for commuting in the dark. They allow me to see walkers/runners/riders with no lights or reflectors on the very dark, MUP I take home (Los gatos creek trail for san jose area people) They show bumps in the trail far better than you can see them in daylight
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Old 11-19-19, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
I use 2 1100 lumen Cygolite Metro for commuting in the dark. They allow me to see walkers/runners/riders with no lights or reflectors on the very dark, MUP I take home (Los gatos creek trail for san jose area people) They show bumps in the trail far better than you can see them in daylight
My 500 lumen Niterider Mi-Newt's battery is starting to show signs of battery fatigue. Niterider's newer headlights in the 1000-1200 range seem priced right, and I can click down to a lower level for better lit streets. Got a birthday coming up...and the wife's been asking what I'd like.
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Old 11-22-19, 10:15 AM
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I live in the NW - Farther north than 99% of all Americans (farther north than all states except AK and all major cities in the US) - It gets dark during the 4pm hour between now and sometime in Feb.

You either make your peace with riding at night/crap weather or you mothball your bike for 5-6 months/year.

When I first got in to commuting I think I had delusions of being something other than a nerdy bike commuter. I have since embraced full bike commuting nerd-dom with good fenders, a good, rechargeable 2500 lumen headlight, a 900 lumen helmet light, and flashing red lights on the back of my helmet and on my flat kit under my saddle. I am considering buying a rear rack, since I am already over the commuting nerd cliff....

If your lights are bright enough, commuting at night doesn't feel any more scary than daylight to me. If lights are insufficient, then it's super scary.

Sidebar - anyone take their kids riding at night? My kids love to ride and I think they would love it if they were lit up properly.
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Old 12-31-19, 09:42 AM
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Bought my girlfriend a Showers Pass Odyssey jacket for her ride/walk to work. Jacket is dark grey with subtle lighter grey pattern on it (street maps of major cities, actually). But when hit by light, this is what happens.



Potato photo quality from phone but you can see how reflective the jacket is with direct light (phone flash). When light hits it off-axis it's not nearly as reflective. For comparison, the red light is a PDW blinky light and a forward pointing blinkie on the stem. There are passive reflectors on the wheels, pedals, and her boots.
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