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You Need to Be Seen to Be Safe
Night Riding: Not my favorite thing, but just like riding through tunnels, sometimes it is a necessity. You need to know how to safely negotiate the streets and highways on your motorcycle in the dark - you need to know how to safety accomplish night riding.
The absolute number one rule: You and your motorcycle need to be visible. When motorcycling at night don't be too concerned with fashion - black leathers on a dark bike without any reflective devices isn't a good idea. Night time motorcycling on a bike with the back end packed with bags obscuring the tail light - really not a good idea.
If you know that you are going to be night riding, make sure that your jacket has some reflective parts. If it doesn't, then consider wearing a safety vest.
If your motorcycle has side bags, thing about putting some reflective adhesives to the back of the bags. Extra visibility, anywhere you can put it, is a very good idea.
Night Riding is not the time for speeding. Make sure that you observe the posted speed limits. If you are passing, flash your bright headlight before passing. Do anything and everything to make sure that you are seen, by the vehicle that you are passing...and, most importantly, by oncoming vehicles.
These three motorcyclists, as seen from the back, differ in the amount of reflective parts on their motorcycle jackets.
Look at each, and decide how you would like to be seen.
Helmets: Wear One and Make it Visible
Riding at night is dangerous enough - don't skip the helmet. There is nothing on your head, without an helmet, that will make you visible to other vehicles.
The back of a helmet is a wonderful place to put some adhesive stickers that will catch the light of headlights behind you and ahead of you.
Also, make sure that your visor is clean if you intend on riding at night. You need to see just as much as you need to be seen.
Living in the city, riding at night under all the street lights is a bit different. All of the highways are brightly lit, and most urban streets have streetlights.
Night Time is Darker in the Country
In rural, country areas, night time is scary. The first time we road in Northern Wisconsin at night, I was amazed at how dark it really was. It was as if we were riding into blackness. The only lights that I could see were reflections in the eyes of animals off the side of road.
If you are going to be riding at night in the country, take your time. Watch for animals - they tend to dart into the road with amazing frequency at night. Drive defensively - make sure that other vehicles see you, even if you have to flash your brights. And, because you sometimes cannot see cross streets, avoid passing. It's better to get where you're going a bit later, safely.
There are special light systems that you can add to the back of your motorcycle. If you intend to do a lot of riding at night, it might be a good thing to check out some oscillating lights, or maybe even some additional halogen lights.
Motels and Hotels
Even in the country, you should be able to find somewhere to stop for the night. If you are too tired, pull over and wait for daylight. It's safer, and you'll enjoy the trip much in the early morning, without all the daytime traffic. Night Riding while tired is not a good thing.
Get One if You are Tired
We rarely ride at night during our travels. It's not a time that I enjoy riding, and I really do appreciate the visibility issues. If you are putting together a trip, estimate how long each day will be, in terms of mileage and time, and have an idea where you can stop for the day. If you make reservations all along the way, then you've got it made.
Motorcycling should be fun. Don't ride if you are not able to do it safely and enjoyably.
If you are traveling by motorcycle, chances are you're going to be doing some highway riding. Unfortunately, motorcycling on highways isn't always fun.
Red Fish Lodge Near Salmon, Idaho