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Night Rider: Commuting in the dark

Night RidingSince the clocks changed for daylight saving a couple of weeks ago (a time that I dread each and every year), this has meant riding home from work in the dark. I don’t mind riding home once the sun has set, but things change out there on the streets and it can get seriously dangerous …

There’s no doubt that the senses need to be on high alert when hacking through the London streets, literally scanning, analysing and assessing every single movement, or lack of movement on the road. Concentration levels are high and fingers twitchy on the brake lever.

The two occasions that I rode home this week, at least twice each night I was confronted by a car driver who didn’t see me coming and would have broad-sided me if it hadn’t been for those DEFCON 1 status senses. The mind is constantly calculating distances, looking out for each conceivable different scenario whilst also establishing the best emergency exit for each permutation, just in case, in addition to watching for the man hole covers that can send you of course, glass, drains, parked cars, pedestrians etc etc.

Can they see me? Can they see me? Please see me?

I recently invested in a pair of high viz arrows that attach to the back of my pack and helmet. Hopefully that provides some indication of my presence from behind at least in addition to the main red tale light and emergency red flasher attached to the backpack. My main concern however is being seen from the front.

On the whole the newer style LED lights provide a decent, powerful white beam that can be seen from a fair distance, much improved on the older style halogen bulbs that were good for an hour then burnt out once the battery power dropped below 80%. The newer variety last for many many hours on a single set of batteries and burn brighter. When conditions are bad, a few LED based lights are preferable in addition to high viz clothing and reflective bits and bobs.

Of course, you never know what the other road users are concentrating on themselves, so whilst they’re looking after their own interests, just make sure your second guessing them as well as looking out for No. 1.

It’s DEFCON 1 out there. So eyes open…

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