There are several big days approaching; Christmas and New Years, but before either of those there will be what you could call a little day; Dec. 21, the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. That means less sunlight for runners, walkers, bikers and others who like to exercise outdoors. Already, the end of daylight saving time has brought on nightfall an hour earlier, darkening bike paths, jogging trails and parks. Mild temperatures have kept people outdoors this year and it is important to stay safe.
Moving your workout routine indoors is not the only alternative. There are a whole slew of products, from clothing to headlamps to specially-designed bikes, that can help you see where you’re going in the dark and, importantly, help you be seen by passing motorists.
When riding bike at night, it is absolutely crucial to have a light. When it comes to bike lights, many cities require bicycles have reflectors, but to be extra safe, you can also use battery-powered lights as can be seen from much farther away.
In a bicycle taillight, you want something red.
Make sure it has enough lumens, a measure of brightness, to be visible from a distance. You should aim for at least 20 lumens, though some lights go up to 50 lumens.
Headlights are most commonly attached to a helmet or the handlebar.
In a headlight, you’re looking for something that makes you visible to cars and other exercisers, but also a lamp that lets you see the path in front of you, to help you avoid potholes and curbs. Headlights with 300 to 400 lumens are recommended.
When it comes to your workout clothes, don’t wear black, it sounds obvious, but many running tights and jackets come in black as they are easy to keep clean. If you chose to wear black, be sure they have reflective markings, pair them with a white or light-colored top and bring along a light.
Some athletic clothing designers build reflective materials into their tights, tops, jackets and gloves. It’s important to pay attention to where the reflective markings are located. Cars headlight are angled down toward the road, so if you’re running alongside traffic, a reflective vest alone isn’t going to cut it.
A blinking light similar to those used by cyclists can be worn around the waist facing forward as a headlight or backward to make you more visible.
Reflectors on shoes aren’t enough to catch a driver’s eyes. Runners and walkers who enjoy going out at night can try light clips on the shoes to increase lower body visibility.
You can always purchase reflective tape and stick it onto clothes before you head out too.