Bright Lights Safe City

A message to bike riding students.

 

Next week, that dreaded and slightly confusing thing known as Daylight Savings will once again occur, in an attempt to make the most of the shortening daylight hours brought on by the coming of winter. Most people reading this will be more concerned about being an hour late to meetings for those next few days, but there is something else that bike riding students need to take into account. Once we turn our clocks back one hour on Sunday the 6th of April, the sun will set at around ten to 6. By the end of April, 20 past 5. And by the end of May, 5pm.

 

With the sun low in the sky and setting earlier and earlier, it starts to get dark quite quickly. Imagine: you’re heading home after hanging out with your mates for a few hours one afternoon, and it’s dark outside already. You’re riding from street light to street light just to see where you’re going, and cars have had to swerve to miss you, because they couldn’t see you in the dark.

 

The solution? Bike lights.

 

All you need is one white light on the front so you can see where you’re going and one flashing red light on the back so that cars can see you. You can get them at the bike shop in Union Court, at any of the bike shops in the City or at Kathmandu and other outdoor gear stores. Alternatively, wiggle.com.au is currently running a big sale on lights: you can get your set there for under 50 dollars.

 

Although it only happens rarely, riding at night without any lights will set you back $98 dollars each if the cops stop you. More importantly, riding without lights could seriously put you in danger when riding on dark, poorly lit streets. Even attentive drivers cannot notice unlit cyclists, providing the potential for serious damage for anyone on the receiving end of a head check gone wrong.

As cyclists riding on roads or bike paths, we’re constantly in contact with other road users: cars and buses, motorbikes and pedestrians. Everyone has a responsibility to look out for others when on the roads, and everyone has a responsibility to look out for themselves. As we’re sharing a bit of road, we all need to try and make it work as well as possible for everyone. That means being polite, slowing down and communicating clearly so that we can get to where we’re going without any hassles. If we get better at this, there’ll be more bikes and fewer cars, making roads and riding safer. And one step in this process is making sure we’re visible.

 

If you want more information about cycling in Canberra, including bike maintenance courses, insurance for bike accidents and all kinds of rides around Canberra, consider joining Pedal Power, our own bike advocacy organization. As a bonus, members get discounts at all the major bike shops, as well as some cafes and restaurants.

For more info, visit pedalpower.org.au.