traveling to the beach? don’t forget bike lights

Light House in Fog

My mid-morning, holiday weekend ride on Long Island last Saturday began with partly cloudy weather, but ended, unexpectedly, in fog. As the Montauk Lighthouse (above) faded into a ghostly distance and its fog horn became audible, I could feel my own visibility — on my white bike, no less — waning.

With weekend escapes to area beaches getting under way, this was a timely reminder to pack a light (or two!) when traveling with a bike or renting. Tiny LED compacts, including my favorite, take up zero space in a suitcase, but pay big dividends in peace of mind on the road, whether you’re contending with fog or simply extending your day at the beach past dusk.

The conditions along the shoreline 20 miles into my ride caught me by surprise because, in this area, fog tends to be an early-morning phenomenon. Since it’s pretty clear that I hadn’t given much thought to riding in this type of weather, I checked out some online advice from other cyclists when I got home. Here are six tips:

  • While this may seem self-evident, thick fog, which limits both a car’s view of you and your view of cars, is unsafe; for cyclists who have a choice, fog usually means no-go.
  • If you encounter fog unexpectedly, adjust your front headlight to “low,” as a motorist would, to improve your view of the road.
  • In addition to mounting a light — the brighter the better — set on “rapid strobe” on the rear of your bike, consider mounting a second on the front at handle-bar height.
  • If  you’re carrying a vest or jacket with reflective details with you, put it on for added visibility.
  • If you wear glasses, be aware that droplets of fog can accumulate rapidly on your lenses, obscuring your vision.
  • In good weather and bad, it helps to be visible not only from the front and back, but also from the side;  applying reflective tape to your frame, or affixing luminescent accessories to your spokes may help you avoid getting “T-boned,”  or hit from the side, by a vehicle when moving through an intersection.

photo: velojoy

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