Cycling Through Standard Time

If you live in a part of the country that recognizes daylight savings time, you’re waking up to a slightly different view this morning.  When we fall back every autumn, the sun shows up and departs an hour earlier than normal. If you Bike 5 instead of driving a car,  this is good news in the morning and not so good news in the evening.   We cyclists are virtually invisible under the best of conditions.  These next few days and weeks we will be even more so.

How you think you appear to motorists.

How we think we appear to motorists.

How you actually appear to motorists who are paying attention.

How we actually appear to motorists who are paying attention.

How you appear to everyone else.

How we appear to everyone else.

That’s no reason not to keep on cycling, though.  By making a couple of small adjustments, you can continue riding as the days grow shorter.  Here’s where I tend to focus this time of year.

Light It Up

Make sure you have good lights both in front and behind, and make sure that they are fully charged before you head out.  If possible, you should have a combination of bicycle and wearable lights.   If you ride a lot in the dark, consider a dynamo hub to provide power.    Line up lights vertically (one on the helmet is great) instead of horizontally because that makes it easier for motorists to identify you as a cyclist.

Be Reflective

You don’t have to become a Trappist monk to reflect.  All you have to do is wear reflective clothing.  Accent your wardrobe generously with reflective tape of different hues.  It’s dirt cheap and highly noticeable.  Put some on your bicycle, your helmet, your back.  Reflective tape is especially noticeable on parts of your body that move.  You’ll want some on your lower legs and shoes, sides, front and back.

Play Defense

You always should ride defensively, but it is especially important during the next few weeks as people get comfortable with changing light conditions.  If possible, adjust your schedule so that you’re riding during daylight hours.  Slow down.  Consider taking the sidepath instead of the street if such options exist.  Find a longer route with less traffic or slower speed limits.  You shouldn’t have to do this sort of thing, but life is not always fair.  It’s better to take it easy and live to ride another day.

I hope you’ll consider continuing to ride throughout late autumn, winter and early spring.  Cycling during the cold months is one of life’s great joys.  With a little planning, there’s no reason why you can’t keep on regardless of what Mother Nature throws at you.

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