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6 Cycling Safety Tips for Fall and Winter

Come autumn, the sun sets earlier and earlier with each passing day until December, when our sunny days come crashing to an end around 5 PM. For cyclists, this means taking a few extra precautions in addition to strapping on the helmet when taking a spin at dawn or dusk. That’s because adding rush hour traffic to decreased visibility from sunsets doesn’t create a favorable situation for cyclists. So to help you stay safe, we’ve listed a few simple tips to keep in mind when cycling during these hours.

Tip #1: Light it up
When the sun sets at 4:30 PM in the dead of winter, you’ll want to have front and rear headlights so you can get a quick ride in after work. Not only is your own visibility important, but you’ll want to be able to see things such as hidden road signs, potholes, pedestrians, and deer on the side of the road. A set of front and rear lights isn’t cheap, but your safety and the safety of others are more than worth the $80 or so you’ll spend on a quality set of head and taillights.

Tip #2: Shine on
When cycling in the dark, there’s no such thing as being too reflective. In addition to wearing a reflective vest, sport a pair of reflective wristbands, and be sure to apply reflective decals to your helmet, rims, frame, and shoes.

Tip #3: Stay aware of your surroundings
If you like to listen to an mp3 player or your smartphone while you ride, be sure to keep one ear open at all times so that you can listen out for cars, animals, sirens, and pedestrians. While no one likes the inconveniences of using one earphone, a great way to enjoy your favorite music or podcasts while staying aware of your surroundings is by using a single earphone headset, such as the XDU Single Earphone from Far End Gear.

By channeling both sides of a stereo mix in one earbud, the XDU Single Earphone allows you to fully enjoy your favorite music or podcasts while keeping one ear open to your surrondings. To further enhance your visibility, the XDU Single Earphone even features a reflective fabric-wrapped cord, and comes with multiple sets of comfortable rubber eartips for a non-slip fit.
If you use a clip-on style mp3 player, the XDU Single Earphone is also available in Far End Gear’s “Short Buds” length so that you don’t have to worry about the cord catching onto your handlebars.

Tip #4: Take extra care at intersections
When riding at night, be sure to slow down even more than you normally do when approaching intersections, and keep an eye out for drivers who might be turning. Even if a driver isn’t using a turn signal (the worst!), never dismiss the possibility of a sudden turn.

Tip #5: Slow down
When cycling at night, ride a tad slower than your normal daytime pace. By doing so, you’ll give yourself more time to safely react.

Tip #6: Be prepared to stop
No cyclist likes to stop, but stopping is one of those necessary evils of nighttime cycling. It’s always a good idea to gradually slow down as you approach an intersection, and be prepared to stop in an instant.

Be Safe!