Depending on where you reside in the world, night riding on your ebike may be an infrequent event, or it may be something that you have to do till late in the morning and from mid-afternoon till the following day. In the event you live in North Alaska or Northern Norway, you may be night riding on your ebike for months on end till the season changes.
Of course, night riding in a large town or city is different to night riding in smaller villages or remote countryside. In urban areas the roads tend to be illuminated by street lights and the heavier road traffic with headlights on, means that even though night has fallen, it is never really dark.
Wherever you reside though, when riding at night, you will be always be less visible than you would be during the day, so you will have to take precautions to ensure you can ride at night safely and get to your destination and back without incident.
New to Ebikes, and New to Night Riding
Many new ebike buyers, tend to be older, opting to use an electric bike because it takes less physical effort than their aging limbs may want to do on a traditional bike, and therefore have never ridden a bicycle for years, perhaps not since childhood.
A great deal has changed in that time. When they were young, maybe there was a great deal less traffic on the roads. Street illumination was perhaps better then, and in the case of being young, their senses were sharper, they could see clearer, hear better, and probably had far quicker reaction times if a hazard arose.
This is not to say that as you are older you should not ride at night. It just means you have to accept some of the natural elements of aging and get used to some of the societal changes that have occurred, since your childhood. That means riding at night may require a higher level of concentration on your journey than it would do if you were younger and sharper.
Being Visible is the Key to Being Safe
Whether you are an older, or younger, ebike rider, concentrating on your road ahead, spotting potential hazards as you go, is just one element of a safe journey to your destination. No matter how safe a rider you are, and how much concentration and foresight you command, you are still at the mercy of other road users, and your safety could depend on their attention and concentration as they encroach on your riding path.
Being highly visible is the way to be seen. When they can see you, they can avoid you. They can see your progress and give you room as they pass, or give you space as you cross their path at a junction before them. Being visible means staying safe.
See also: Ebike in Traffic – the Safe Way
And: Keep Warm and Dry on Your Ebike This Winter: Tips to Stay Comfortable
How to be Visible When You Ebike at Night
One: Ebike Lights Front and Back
Ensure you have proper lighting on your ebike front and back. Preferably the lights should be powered by your ebike battery rather than separate rechargeable lights. If they are separate rechargeable lights, then ensure the batteries are fully charged before you go night riding. You cannot cycle at night without proper lights. It is illegal in most countries of the world, and it is foolhardy and dangerous.
Depending on where you are night riding, it may be advisable to fit another front light to assist you to see better ahead if you are riding on dark roads with no street lighting. There are many high-powered lights you can buy that will fit easily on the handlebars and illuminate your path ahead far better than a factory fitted front light.
Again, ensure the batteries for such a light are fully charged before you begin your journey. It is also advisable to tilt the lamp slightly downwards to provide better light in your immediate pathway, as well as to avoid blinding any road users coming towards you by shining a high-powered beam at their eye level.
Two: Reflective Clothing for Night Riding
Lights are essential for night riding on your ebike, but it is easy for a driver to miss a small rear light, and therefore not see you at all, or not see you until it is too late to avoid you. Wearing reflective clothing will enhance your visibility. Another road user’s lights will reflect off your clothing and light you up more than a single back light will do. You will be seen more easily and therefore be safer on your journey.
There is a great range of cycling safe reflective clothing available. You do not have to go all ‘day-glo’ to be safe if that is not a style that appeals to you. If reflective clothing is not your thing, then think about reflective vests and bands. These can be easily put on at the start of your journey and removed and stored on your ebike at your journeys end.
For an extra enhancement to being seen, a vest or bands can be purchased that come fitted with LED lighting that will improve your visibility even more.
Remember, other road users may not pay as much attention on their journey as you do on yours. Therefore, making yourself as visible as possible is ensuring they are more likely to see you, and therefore their lack of concentration on their way ahead, will not endanger you.
Three: Add Additional Reflectors to Your Ebike
I hate to over-stress the fact, that I rate the attention to the road ahead and the concentration of other road users much lower than my own. It is partly down to experience, and partly down to numbers. Not everyone on the roads is a safe driver. Every car driver knows this from experience, and every new cyclist will get to know this also.
People are easily distracted while driving. They may have kids in the back seat arguing, they may be distracted by a phone call. I know one person who crashed into a lamp-post trying to retrieve a lit cigarette they had dropped between their legs, while driving. Distractions mean a lack of attention and that can be dangerous for other road users, including ebike riders.
Being seen, and making other road users aware of your position on the road, is the safest way to ebike at night. Lights on your ebike, and wearing high visibility clothing are the right approach to making yourself as visible as possible. Another option available to you, is to add additional reflectors on your ebike.
There are many ways you can add additional reflectors to your ebike, and some may appeal to you more than others. My own favorite is wheel spoke reflectors, but you can fix extra reflectors to the ebike handlebars and the back of the saddle or seat post, the pedals, and you can purchase reflective decals to tape along the frame. You may not want your ebike lit up like a Christmas tree while cycling along, but some adequate extra reflectors fitted will add to your safety when ebiking at night.
If you are new to an ebike, and new to the possibility of riding at night, it is wise to seek advice before you do so. The 3 crucial safety tips above are not only common sense, at least one of them, lights front and back, are, in most areas of the world, a legal requirement before you can cycle on the public highway.
Being as visible in the dark as possible is the key to cycling safely at night, so the additional tips of reflective clothing and extra reflectors on your ebike, are also a worthy idea for cycling safely.
04 Jan 2022