Night Riding Suggestions for Teens

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Anonymous's picture

My teenage daughter has suddenly developed an interest in bike riding! Of course, I am very pleased. However, she occasionally rides at night. What kind of things are effective at making night riding safer? I am thinking of things like headlights, reflectors, bright colored clothing. Are these effective? Any other ideas? Thanks.
(I remember someone saying that rear reflectors and blinking lights are not effective.)

Anonymous's picture
Alan Resnick (not verified)

the brighter the better---red flashing in the back-1 or 2 good flashers- reflective clothing--ILLUMIINTE from Performance-jackets and perhaps booties-as the moving feet will be super- also a visible light going towards the front-more to be seen than for seeing as I assume her riding will be either central or prospect park Alan

Anonymous's picture
Geo Carl Kaplan (not verified)
Night Riding

This is for anyone - not only teens.
Place reflective tape between every 6 or 8 spokes on wheel rims. This will cause the wheel to appear to be a moving ring of light to motorists coming at right angle or any angle. (You may have to rebalance or retrue the wheels.) The tape can be placed on helmet, frame, shoes and any other place you can think of.

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

All reflective items go from sorta goofy to supergoofy, so I think this will have to be a balance between safety and what a teenage girl is willing to put up with. That said:

Front light: Cateye EL500 (Large single LED 30 hours +)

Helmet light: Cateye EL400 (3 led, 100+ hrs)

Rear light: Cateye LD-250 (blinkie, solid, 1000+ hours)

2nd rear light: Another LD-250

Ankle and wheel reflectors: Ankle reflectors keep your pants clean and are easily seen as your legs rotate. Velcro wheel reflectors are light, cheap, and easy to take on and off. Get 4 of the wheel reflectors.

Both available here:

Vest/shirt: Dorky, yes, but pretty effective. Peruse the selection of vests and shirts at:

For riding at night, reflectivity is a must. Just hi-viz colors won't do it, as they depend on UV light for their POP!

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)

Thanks to all for your suggestions!

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Someone will doubtless prove me wrong

In addition to flashing red light or lights at the rear, a continuous beam red light is also a good idea.

I was once told by a police officer in Scotland that the reason why it is a legal requirement in Britain to have a continuous beam red light at the back, as opposed to flashing, is that while drivers can see the red light, it is impossible to predict how far away his/her vehicle is from that red light, until you are right on top of it. This, he said was especially true on unlit, or poorly lit roads.

I was sceptical at first, until a few weeks later, while waiting for a train, I observed the back of a freight train in Britain, which had a single flashing red light at the back. As it got further away from me, into the dark, the appearance of the flashing red light did not change until a few miles up the track when it disappeared altogether, after the train turned a corner.

A few minutes later, I was then able to compare it with a speeding passenger train, travelling at well over 100mph, which had continuous beam red lights at the back and you could see the lights moving away rapidly.

I'm sure that somebody who knows a thing or two about physics will prove me wrong and accuse me of talking bollocks, but I thought I'd mention it anyay.

I fully agree with correspondents who advocate wearing bright, reflective clothing and having reflective strips on things like booties, etc, that do get picked up in a car's headlights.

Anonymous's picture
Diane Goodwin (not verified)
Being Seen In The Dark

You must have a steady white light in the front and steady red in the back. That's the law! When you ride at night in a large city, it is disceiving. Most places in the US are poorly lit. You should test the lighting equipment you purchase on roads such as Hudson Terrace in NJ. Lights are critical for cars to see you in the NYC.

Night riding requires proper lighting and illumination. On the brevets, we have a bike check before rides requiring specific lighting and reflective gear. No one has identical lighting though. Irresdescent bulbs are the best. I have a generator hub (Schmidt). Check out this link for lighting: A generator is great because you don't need batteries or recharging - just food to energize your body. The lumotec lamp remains on for 5-6 minutes after stopping.

If you choose a battery light, lithium batteries are better than alkaline - the beam stays steady longer and is white rather than yellow. Alkaline beams get smaller as the charge decreases.

An extra front headlight isn't a bad idea. Handlebar spacers are great to put lights on. Helmet lights are good ... only for looking at road signs or your cyclometer. Helmet lights are not to be relied on solely for seeing the road. BTW, they are annoying for group riding or oncomers as they can be blinding. We tend to turn them off unless until we need them.

There's a new Cateye lamp (Blowout?) which is suppose to last over four hours. (I like my generator because I never have to think about recharging - just carry a bulb).

A safety sash or vest is a MUST! Encourage her to wear lighter colored clothing. One of my safety vests is flourescent yellow and clearly visible with the wide reflective horizontal band. I got it at PBP last year.

Bar end lights are also great. Toga is carrying them now.

Make sure the back light is attached to the bicycle and not a saddle, tool bag or backpack. One steady red rear light is mandatory. You can add as many blinkies as you want.

Ankle reflectors are also important.

As I drive by or behind the randonneurs at the early morning starts, it's amazing how illuminated they become with all these mandatory items. If you go to and check out the rider rules on lighting, you'll see what's required specifically.

Remember, test the head light. Cateye has a four bult red taillight which is more visible than a small square one, too.

I commute almost every day. I drive too. Drivers look in their rear and side mirrors before turning (well, they are suppose to). If your daughter has a front light, they will see her.

Most importantly, you should ride with her a few times before she's out there alone - to make sure she's careful.

Lastly, reflective tape is also good. If you don't mind marking up a helmet or your bike ....

Hope this helps.
diane goodwin

cycling trips