Locations:
Search IconSearch

Is it Safe to Cycle at Night?

If you must do it, take extra care

Cycling at Night: 4 Must-Read Safety Tips

If you can ride your bicycle either day or night, it’s best to ride in the day.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Michael Schaefer, MD, Director of Musculoskeletal Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic, suggests staying indoors on a stationary trainer or a spin bike if you want to rack up more cycling time after dark.

That being said, many avid cyclists find themselves riding at night eventually — either inadvertently or on purpose. And, whether you enjoy night riding or must do it for some reason, it’s important to prepare yourself and your bike for doing it safely.

Dr. Schaefer, who is an avid cyclist himself, offers some tips on the best way to safely get to your destination when you’re riding after dusk or before dawn.

1. Choose safest routes

Map out routes that are well-lit and have lighter traffic in the evening hours. If you can, stick to lighted bike trails or roads that have designated bikes lanes, Dr. Schaefer says.

If you find a road with good lighting at night, double-check to make sure they’ll still have the lights on when you plan to ride. Some street lights turn off after a certain time in the evening.

2. Light yourself up

You absolutely must stay as well-lit as possible. One low-cost way to do this is to purchase reflective duct tape and stick it prominently on your back and on the back and sides of your bike.

If you are going to ride frequently in the evening, a lighting system is necessary, Dr. Schaefer says. There are only a few on the market that are really adequate for night biking, he says.

Advertisement

“Probably only the most expensive and brightest systems are adequate,” he says. “Any bike lighting system should have front and rear lights, a large battery capacity and a large number of lumens.” (A good gauge is 800 lumens or higher, especially if you’re riding on darker roads.)

It’s a good idea to use good front and rear bike lights even in the daytime to make yourself more visible in traffic, he adds.

3. Wear reflective clothing

Dr. Schaefer says there is a lot of good reflective clothing (with reflective elements woven into the fabric) on the market. This clothing helps light you up when headlights shine on you in the evening or early morning hours.

4. Get a heads-up from technology

There is other technology that is helpful for riding at night. For instance, Dr. Schaefer uses a radar system that alerts him when a car is coming up from behind. It also lights up to warn oncoming cars that a cyclist is ahead.

Whether you are often out riding at night on purpose or sometimes get caught out later than you mean to, having proper lighting can go a long way toward keeping you safe.

Dr. Schaefer recommends exercising extra caution and riding at a slower speed at night. And, if you find yourself in an area with no lights at all or on a particularly poorly lit section of road, it’s a good idea to get off and walk your bike until you (and drivers in the cars around you) can see better.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

People biking, scootering and walking in a park
June 11, 2024/Children's Health
Cycle Smart: 8 Bike Safety Tips for Kids

Make sure their bike is the right size, find a helmet that fits properly and teach them the rules of the road

Smiling parent holding smiling baby in a pool
June 7, 2024/Children's Health
When Can Babies Go in the Pool?

Wait until they’re at least 6 months old before your little one takes their first dunk

Jellyfish sting on wrist and thigh
May 20, 2024/Primary Care
Should You Pee on a Jellyfish Sting?

This persistent myth isn’t true and can actually cause more pain than relief

Person jogging in foggy park among big, green trees
May 2, 2024/Exercise & Fitness
What Is Slow Running and Does It Work?

Reducing your pace allows you to log more miles and train your body for the stress of running

Kids running a race at the finish line ribbon
April 30, 2024/Children's Health
Is Your Child Old Enough To Run a 5K?

Let your little one’s enthusiasm and motivation fuel their interest in running, but don’t pile on miles too early

Kids playing in ocean/sea waves
March 29, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Everything You Need To Know About Sea Lice and Seabather’s Eruption

Sea lice aren’t really lice, but these tiny creatures can trigger an unpleasant allergic reaction

bottle of SARM tablets and liquid, with muscular people in background
March 25, 2024/Exercise & Fitness
SARMs: What’s the Harm?

If you think SARMs are a safe way to build muscle — think again

person shadow boxing outside
November 15, 2023/Exercise & Fitness
6 Health Benefits of Boxing

A type of high-intensity interval training, fitness boxing can challenge your body and mind

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad