5 Ways to Keep Cyclists Safe on Race Courses in the Dark

‘Tis the season of light—and we don’t just mean sparkling strings of holiday lights on houses. With night falling early, dedicated cyclists are left to train in the dark—contending with the usual traffic and road hazards, plus the additional challenge of low visibility. Sure, there are myriad ways for riders to stay safe while cycling at night, with a full uniform of rear-facing red blinking lights and reflective gear.

But, what can you do to help familiarize themselves with the course before race day—and stay safe? Here are five tips.

Outline short loops along the race route

After work probably isn’t the time for a steady three-hour ride. Those training rides are better reserved for weekends, while after-work training sessions are primed for focused sessions. With that in mind, guide race registrants to train on short loops. Cyclists will familiarize themselves with the course one section at a time, in appropriate, after-dark chunks. Plus, the short loops will allow them to return more easily to their homes or departure points if a problem arises.

Point to bike paths

When providing training tips, point cyclists to traffic-free multi-purpose paths where they’ll be free to ride without vehicular interference. With this training regimen in mind, you may want to design your early-spring courses to focus on paths and routes free of motoring traffic.

Mark the hazards

On maps, illustrate where cyclists might encounter obstacles like potholes or cracks. These are easy to miss, particularly in the dark, and hitting them at full speed can cause crashes. This is particularly true in low-lit areas, like neighborhoods or along rural roads. Even better, cue cyclists that the obstacle is ahead by marking it with reflective chalk or tape.

Organize group rides

Prior to race day, set up a group ride for cyclists to get acquainted with the route after work. This can be as easy as posting a meeting time and place on Facebook or in your newsletter. (Of course, be sure to share that this isn’t an officially organized event.) There’s safety in numbers. Plus, riders will get a motivational boost to head out into the dark together. Make it a festive event by encouraging riders to outfit their bikes with strings of LED rope lights for even more visibility.

Get creative with merch

Get cyclists amped for the upcoming race with a line of race goodies aimed at training safely. Think about branded reflective clothing, front white lights, rear red lights, or other helmet lighting that can increase the visibility of cyclists.1


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Bicycle Safety