Women Riders

Night Riding

Written by  October 31, 2006

Dear Goldie,
Can you give me any tips on riding at night? Your articles have been helpful as a new rider just starting out.

Thank you,
Cheryl Maher
Kansas City

Hi Cheryl,
Great question! I think most of us don’t particularly care to ride at night due to the reduced visibility, increased wildlife traffic, drunk drivers and unknown obstacles in the road. I know when we are out of town away from our familiar roads and comfort zone it is stressful to ride at night on foreign roads.

Here are a few tips and safety precautions that might increase your night riding Confidence:

Wear white or bright-colored clothing to make yourself more easily seen by other motorists. If you are carrying a passenger or loaded with luggage make sure you have some sort of reflective tape or decals on your helmets or luggage. You want to be seen at night, so make yourself visible.
Reduce your speed. Objects in the road are harder to see and you may not see them until you are right on them. Keeping your speed in check will help if you have to stop suddenly or swerve to miss an object. Be careful to watch for loose gravel or sand that you cannot see on the roads; don’t guess what you can’t see.
Judging distance at night can be difficult. Keep your distance when following others and allow yourself more space to pass. Images, shadows and light contrasts can be distorted at night; do not rely on them to determine distance and speed of oncoming vehicles or vehicles you are following.
Always ride with your headlights on, but use your high beams whenever you need to see far ahead. Make sure there is no oncoming traffic when your lights are on high because it will blind the driver and they may not see you. Remember you want to be seen!
Your headlamps, windshield and visor should always be clean. Scratches on your visor or windshield will not help your visibility and when you add rain or condensation, it’s even more difficult to see. If you don’t think your headlights put out enough light, have them checked. They may be weak and need to be replaced. There are light bulbs that claim to be 30 percent brighter (Blue dot/ Blue Vision are a couple of types) that you might want to experiment with.
When planning a trip try to minimize night riding, especially if you are tired. It becomes more difficult to react to hazards as quickly as you would during the day. If you must ride through the night, take regular breaks and stay warm to help combat fatigue.
Always have your cell phone and a flashlight with you.
Never drink and ride.
When parking your bike at night, park in a well-lit area to avoid the chance of someone stealing or tampering with it at night.
Ride within your comfort zone, not necessarily to keep up with others.

Whether you ride during the day or at night, be safe and be a defensive rider
Have a fabulous Thanksgiving, and I hope you get to ride somewhere warm over the winter months!

Goldie Arnold
“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: Use the lights of those ahead of you to allow for a better view of the road.