By: Caleb Magoon
Fall is here and all Vermonters are starting the countdown to winter. Our long to-do lists of outside projects take top priority as we prepare for the cold and dark months. But we also want to squeeze out the last bike rides, hikes, and other outdoor activities with the few nice days we have left. As LED light technology has improved by leaps and bounds, we increasingly are pushing those recreation activities into the evening hours.
Here are a few tips to take advantage of the dark hours and stay safe.
First off, be aware that dusk is a far more dangerous time than full dark. Drivers can’t see safety lights as well and the flat light makes obstacles much harder to see. So be prepared and ready to turn on those lights earlier than you think.
When going for a run or bike ride, reflective clothing and material is a great place to start. At the minimum, wear a reflective vest or add reflective tape to your arms or shoes, which are always moving and hence more visible.
But remember that reflective material on your clothing isn’t necessarily enough. For those to work effectively, they need to be hit by car headlights. People often don’t have their headlights on at dusk, making the reflective gear ineffective. So make sure you have lights, preferably in a strobe or blinking function on your body.
Adding lights to your setup greatly increases your safety. You can get clip-on strobing lights very inexpensively – under $20 for a set of two or $40 for a nicer set that is rechargeable. These can easily clip onto your clothes, belt, a bag you carry, or reflective vests.
If illumination, not just visibility is your goal, a two light setup is ideal. Lights pointed away from a car can be hard to see. But having lights pointed in both directions, ensuring one is pointed at a driver in each direction increases visibility dramatically.
Many bike companies are now offering daytime running lights. As dusk becomes longer and more prominent, consider adding these to your setup so you are always visible. When biking, adding one light on your handlebars to illuminate where the bike is going and one on your helmet to see where you are looking provides excellent coverage.
As you get out in the dark more and more, keep adding to your safety setup and looking for more options. Drivers will thank you for being as visible as possible. I love getting out this time of year when the weather is perfect for outside exertion. But as the darkness comes, we all have a responsibility to make ourselves as visible as possible.
Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.