For many in the Chicago area, the end of Daylight Savings Time, which concludes at 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, also means the end of well-lit evening commutes. With sunset jumping up an hour to 4:45 p.m. starting Sunday and peaking as early as 4:19 p.m. from Dec. 6-11, those who work during standard business hours can expect to travel home in the dark well into February. This poses a particular hazard to those who commute by bike, where reduced light can make cyclists even more difficult to spot.
To promote cyclist safety during winter’s dark evenings, the Active Transportation Alliance released a video that demonstrates the enormous difference made by using front and rear bike lights. The video takes into account standard distractions drivers encounter, including dirty windshields and crowded streets, that can make it difficult to impossible to spot a cyclist without lights on his or her bike. Front lights, required by Illinois and Chicago law, and red rear lights dramatically increase cyclist visibility to drivers.
While a variety of bike lights exist, the Active Trans video particularly recommends lights with a minimum of 100 lumens, USB rechargeable lithium ion batteries purchased from local bike shops with solid construction that could withstand a little bit of abuse, such as accidental drops.
Active Trans also has a variety of safety tips in its Everyday Biking Guide.