Bike Light Safety Tips
I'm really excited right now because we received some new bike lights - just in time for daylight savings. Since the clocks roll forward in Spring that'll likely mean a dark morning commute for most of us. Remember - Spring forward into safety, Fall back into good lighting habits.
If you've been commuting to work or school for over a year then you are already well aware of the profound affect that the daylight saving time changes have on us.
In the first week of March we roll the clocks forward on a Sunday night and lose one hour. For most people who don't prepare for it, this means we lose one hour of sleep. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, most Americans slept about 40 minutes less than normal that Sunday night. This seems small but can wreak havoc on our circadian rhythm which affects us both physically and mentally.
According to IBTimes, over 1.5 billion people across 80 countries observe the tradition, but not all of us adjust our clocks at the same time. According to a study in Sleep Medicine, drivers are more likely to be in a fatal traffic accident on that first Monday. The authors analyzed 21 years of data on fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. and found that following the start of DST, drivers are in 84 accidents as compared with 78 on the average Monday.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns drivers that adjusting to the new low-light environment can take time, and that driving while distracted puts everyone, especially pedestrians and cyclists, at greater risk of death or injury. They note that 840 cyclists died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 and nearly 45,000 cyclists were injured. The majority of these fatalities occur during dark conditions between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m.
As we can see in this sun graph for Austin Texas the end of astronomical twilight jumps from about 6 a.m. to about 7 a.m. on the Monday morning of March 8th 2020. In case you don't believe in science, feel free to look out the window an hour before you leave for work - that's what your new commute will look like.
Ok so this sucks, but what can we do about it?
While most people will naturally adjust within a few days, there are a few things we can do to get ahead. We should start going to sleep an hour early, and consider waking up earlier the week before DST changes. We should also avoid naps, coffee, and alcohol while practicing good sleep habits throughout the week.
For those of us committed to bike commuting, let's take a look at some safe ways to make sure we can See and Be Seen through the morning twilight.
Since the most common bicycle accident involves being rear ended by a motorist, don't forget to check the batteries on your tail lights. We recommend using at least two tail lights and make sure they are clearly visible from multiple angles. One large bright red light fully illuminated and one smaller light set to a slow strobe. The Vont dual bike light set is perfect for this application since they are super easy to mount and have a 650 mAh usb rechargeable lithium ion battery that lasts 10 hours when set to a slow strobe. We don't recommend fast strobe bike lights in general since they may distract or even disorient oncoming motorists. Using two sets of lights also offers redundancy in case one fails. A solid bar end mirror is also critical for good rear field awareness.
As for front lights it's important to equip a light that can see and a light that can be seen. For recreational riding at low speeds, bike lights below 250 lumens are usually fine. For commuting and or higher speed riding above 30 mph, we recommend using at least one headlight with over 900 lumens in order to properly see what's coming up in front of you. This could be paired with a less bright smaller light set to a slow strobe in order to help be seen. Vont's new bike light is easy to mount, offers 250 lumens and has three simple settings. It can be used as a headlight at low speeds, or as a supplemental strobe light and is usb rechargeable. Be sure to also check your front light mounts and fully charge or replace the batteries often.
Helmet mounted lights are a plus as they give you a separate spotlight pointed in the direction you are looking. We really like the convenience of the Vont Spark headlamp for this.
Keep in mind that in some communities it is illegal to ride in the dark without lights. This is also a good time to check and re-torque your bike's fasteners, mostly the axle nuts, pedals, cranks, headset, stem, brakes and brake levers. Don't forget to lubricate your chain and brake lines, then inspect the tires and top off tube pressure the night before.
This video is sponsored by Vont. You can find more of their products on their Amazon store page, at Vont.com, or on facebook, twitter, and instagram. Vont is a US Based family-run lighting and electronics company committed to offering inexpensive smart electronic solutions since 2014. Their original Bike Light is Vont’s first and most popular product offering.
Vont was generous enough to send us two sets of their bike lights which we will be testing for the next few weeks and then giving away to you during the upcoming Vont bike light review videos. Of course - I would never recommend a product I haven't used, so I'll have them strapped on during my morning commute for the next few weeks and will publish a thorough review video then. In the meantime you can enter for the giveaway by liking this video and commenting below. We'll choose a comment at random and announce the winner at the beginning of our next video - so make sure you subscribe for notification.
They also gave us a 10% discount code if you'd prefer to order one now. If you found this video helpful please support our channel by checking out these Vont bike lights using our Amazon affiliate links in the description below. Thanks, and remember to Spring forward into safety, Fall back into safe lighting habits.