Now that Daylight Savings Time has ended, anyone who walks or bikes after around 5 p.m. will have to do so in the dark. Nighttime is a more dangerous time for walking and biking, as drivers have a harder time seeing pedestrians and cyclists.
• Light up. And we don’t mean cigarettes! When biking, don’t leave home without a headlight and rear light.
This reliable flashing tail light* lasts for up to 100 hours on two AAA batteries. Rechargeable lights are typically brighter, making them good choices for front headlights. If you go the USB route, make sure to carry a battery-powered option as backup.
In addition to a good handlebar head light and rear light, consider investing in a helmet light and reflectors that attach to your spokes. For the ultimate in safety, a laser will help protect your space on the road.
When walking, carry a flashlight at minimum. A headlamp helps you see and be seen in areas without streetlights: in Oakland, there are many of these. It also helps you see cracks in the pavement and sidewalk that could cause a nasty fall. (Oakland has a lot of these too.)
• Stay visible. Whether walking, biking or running, wear bright colors: any high-visibility color your fashion sense can stand. Other options include reflective jackets, vests, pants, and/or shoes. You don’t need to spend a fortune. Even a simple reflective vest you can layer over other clothes will help motorists see you.
For extra protection, grab a pair of reflective arm/ankle bands. Reflective tape that you can put on your bike frame, saddle bag, helmet, and/or jacket is another inexpensive option to add visibility.
• Prepare for emergencies. Make sure your tires, tubes, and components are in good working order before your first night ride. It’s harder to change a tube at night!
Bring a phone for safety—with emergency contacts saved—but don’t chat or text while walking or biking at night. Not only do you increase your risk of getting hit by a car, you make yourself vulnerable to theft and/or assault.
Many of the robberies that take place in San Francisco and Oakland involve smartphone theft. Make yourself less of a target by keeping your stored in an inside jacket pocket or an inside zippered pocket inside a clasped or zipped purse. (In other words, a nonobvious hard-to-reach spot.) If you must take out your phone while walking, keep a firm grip with both hands and don’t flash it around—especially if you’re using a brand-new iPhone 12.
Other good items to carry: your ID and a few dollars for bus fare. On the bike, a helmet camera may capture good evidence in the event of a collision.
Commuting and running errands by foot or by bike are great ways to make exercise part of your daily routine. As days grow shorter, take precautions to stay safe on dark California roads.
Were you significantly injured while walking or biking in Oakland? Call our office for a free consultation.
*Links are for helpful purposes only. I do not have any affiliate relationships with Amazon, Planet Bike or any other vendor.