With Singapore’s hot and humid weather and busy roads, it’s no big surprise that some cycling enthusiasts take to the streets after dark. Night riding has become increasingly popular over the years, with several cycling groups and individual cyclists bringing out their beloved bicycles for leisurely nocturnal rides once the sun goes down.
Needless to say, safety is paramount when it comes to these night-time rides. Here’s what you have to look out for if you’re planning to cycle under the cover of darkness.
Light It Up
Before venturing forth into the night with your trusty bicycle, make sure that you have a front white light and a rear red light on your two-wheeled, pedal-powered vehicle. Ensure that both lights are in working order and switched on in the dark.
50-year-old Gio Fabio, who organises mid-week night rides with popular cycling group JoyRiders, believes that it is “important is to have very good lights to make sure all motorists can see the riders from afar”.
Not only will having good working lights allow others to spot you as you are out and about at night, it will also save you from being served a penalty by the authorities, which could be a fine up of to $1000, a jail term of up to 3 months, or both, once the Active Mobility Act comes into effect later this year.
Wear Reflective Clothes
Much like having working lights on your bicycle, wearing bright or reflective clothes will enhance your visibility on the streets after dark as well. This will help to make your nocturnal ride a safer one, as motorists, pedestrians and fellow riders will be able to easily notice you and avoid collisions. 26-year-old Abigail Lim, a senior account executive and avid night cyclist, agrees.
She said: “I make sure that I wear bright clothes with reflective elements so that those around me can see where I am coming from and where I will be going.”
Slow It Down
Speeding is a no-no, regardless of whether you are cycling in the day or at night. However, as the sun sets, it becomes even more important to maintain a slow speed when you are cycling. Ridzwan Jasni, a 35-year-old graphic designer who rides at night, lowers his speed at night because “the visibility is different when compared to riding in the day”. Keep below 15 km/h on footpaths and 25 km/h on shared or cycling paths, such as Park Connectors (PCN), for not only your own safety, but for the safety of others who may be on the paths. If caught riding dangerously on the paths, you could be charged with a fine of up to $5000, a jail term of up to 6 months, or both.
Follow traffic laws
When it comes to cycling on the roads, remember that you are seen as a fellow vehicle by other motorists. Follow all traffic laws, especially the ones pertaining to traffic junctions – even though the light is green at the right turn junction, make sure to check there is no oncoming traffic before making the turn; and don’t dash across red lights. This will make your movements predictable to other road users and reduce your risk of meeting an accident. For an added measure, be ready to smile and wave ‘Thank you!’ whenever a driver slows down and gives way to you. You will be surprised how disarming a friendly gesture can be.
Wear a Helmet
Wearing a helmet can save your life. It is one of the most important pieces of safety gear that you can and should wear before going forth on your ride into the night. 25-year-old student and frequent night cyclist, Brendon Koh, agrees as he had gotten “injuries as a result of not wearing [his] helmet” in previous riding incidents. Getting a properly-fitted helmet will not only keep you safer, but can also be a stylish accessory to show your fashion-forward ways. Getting one with reflective elements will also enhance your safety two-fold, by improving your visibility and protecting your noggin.
Riding at night can be daunting when you don’t have your route planned out. As night falls, once familiar landscapes can appear to be strange and different. Before you even leave your home to start on your cycling journey, you should have a fixed route in mind, or use an app to help you track where you want to go. Avoid poorly-lit areas or roads and paths with uneven surfaces, and you will have a much smoother ride. 29-year-old Alvin Ewe, who cycles both solo and in a group at night, agrees, adding that planning ahead has helped his cycling group avoid “getting lost or going the wrong direction, hence destroying the momentum of the ride”.
Cycling at night can be a fun and exhilarating experience. By following the tips above, you will be able to have a safe and pleasant one as well. You may also learn more safe riding tips in the free Safe Riding Programme guidebook that is available for download on LTA’s website. To try out night cycling for yourself, you can contact the JoyRiders to begin your journey into the world of nocturnal riding. Stay safe and have fun!