It’s getting darker earlier here in Sydney as we descend into autumn. When riding at night, the city has a different quality to it than during the day. It feels mysteriously sexy. There are opportunities for all kinds of things to happen. Unexpected meetings with people you may or may not know. Undiscovered restaurants or wine bars that are well-lit and well-stocked with delicious edibles and drinkables.
I have had many conversations with well-dressed men in the city while on my bicycle. A single girlfriend of mine and I went for a drink. It was close to Christmas and the city was full of happy drunks. I was walking with S. and pushing my bicycle. Consecutively, two handsome men stopped to talk to me about my bicycle. The helmet is a conversation starter for one. My attire is usually another. S’s conclusion for the evening? “I should start riding a bicycle.”
However, riding at night requires additional skills and the right equipment.
First, it’s important to have lights on the bicycle to ride safely at night. The front light is useful for illuminating the road but also for being visible to oncoming pedestrians, cars and other cyclists. It should be mounted at the correct angle. (Not in the faces of oncoming cyclists is best.) The front light should have at least two settings. An additional high beam setting is invaluable in circumstances where there are no lights. A red tail light is also necessary for visibility. It’s a matter of personal preference to have a blinking light. I have ridden past cyclists who do not have lights and it is a frightening experience. The small reflectors on wheels or the back of pedals do not provide sufficient visibility.
Wearing reflective clothing at night (or in the day) is also a matter of personal preference. My cycling clothes have reflective stripes but my work clothing and jackets do not. However, as I like wearing colour, my jackets are bright colours. The black dress is from Tahari and the white jacket and scarf from Zara.
Again, I ride with awareness of what is around me because I can’t assume that others will see me because of my lights or my clothing. At night, I rely on all of my senses, especially my hearing. I don’t advocate riding while listening to music for that reason. At night, with reduced visibility, it’s good to be able to hear people, bicyclist, or cars around you.
I find the wind to be a bit chilling on the eZee Sprint, especially at night and in the morning. It’s a sign that I will need to change to my push bike soon. As a result, I wear a scarf to keep my neck warm. Today’s scarf is cotton. The jacket is lined (with nothing special) and keeps me warm by repelling the wind. As the temperature drops, I’ll start wearing dresses with sleeves and change to a heavier jacket.
One final comment: Don’t drink and ride. If I know that I’ll be having more than one drink that evening, I’ll ride home and take a taxi. Otherwise, I’ll have one drink with a snack and then make my way home.
Today’s ensemble: Zara jacket and scarf, Tahari by Arthur S. Levine, Easy Spirit heels, Cartier Santos, Linus Eleanor bag, eZee Sprint bicycle, Yakkay helmet, Hermes cuff.