by Caiti Beattie
During the Second World War, the Ministry of Food solved a carrot surplus by suggesting that the British pilots’ exceptional night flying skills, and target success, was due to their carrot consumption.
The ‘fake news’ or propaganda as it was called then, worked well and people started eating more carrots, believing it would help them see better during blackouts. And the carrot mountain was conquered.
While we wouldn’t suggest that carrot consumption will help you ride your motorcycle at night, there are some other tried and tested tips we have found. Riding at night can be exhilarating and fun – if you’re prepared. But it also takes more concentration than riding during daylight hours, which means you will tire more easily.
- Make sure all lights are clean and properly adjusted. Firstly, you should ensure that your lights are cleaned regularly to avoid dirt and dust covering them. You should also try to avoid an excess of moisture appearing over your headlight which can also downgrade its impact.
- Changing the bulbs in your lights regularly will allow them to do their job effectively. Bulbs will dim gradually over time meaning that after a couple of weeks of usage your lights will not give you the same quality of vision as it did when you first changed your bulb.
- Make sure that you’re warm and can be easily seen – try wearing bright and fluorescent jackets or strips on your helmet or bike. This helps the light to reflect from you and give others the best chance of spotting you with plenty of time to react. Consider fitting extra lights to aid your visibility as well as your vision. While you might not want to look like a member of the emergency services, you could look to them for some inspiration – they know how to see and be seen! And wear warm or heated clothing – temperatures fall in the dark.
- Keep your visor clean and scratch free. If your visor has dirt or scratches on its surface this can cause a starring effect to appear when you are looking on to light. In dark conditions this can be treacherous as having accurate vision is what can help you to navigate the roads when you do not have daylight to help. A Visorcat will ensure that your visor is kept clean and dirt free on the move and can greatly aid vision in the dark. Use a helmet bag when your helmet is not in use to avoid scratches. If you wear glasses, keep them clean and scratch-free too.
- Headlights and corners. Your headlights, while being a very effective and important piece of kit, are unable to predict what you are going to find around the next corner. Taking care to ride only as fast as you can see ahead of you will help you and other road users to be safe. Approach the corner at a steady pace allowing your headlight to fill the space in front of you so that you can feel confident that the road ahead is clear before you continue. And consider fitting extra headlights.
- Road surface. In the dark it is harder to see what kind of road surface you have coming ahead of you. Taking the time to notice a change in road surface can allow you to prepare yourself and your bike to take this on. Riding with care and a little slower than you normally would in the daytime gives you the ability to be ready for any changes to the surface underneath you.
- Plan ahead. Tell loved ones where you’re going, and your expected arrival time. Make sure you’ve eaten, are hydrated and are not tired. If the journey is a long one, add extra time for breaks. Ensure your machine is roadworthy and that you have sufficient fuel for the journey and a fully charged phone in case of breakdown.
- Think about your signals. As well as making sure that your indicators are working properly before setting out on your journey in the dark, it is important to remember to signal sooner than you would if you were making the same turn in the daytime. This allows other users on the road to be aware where you are planning to go and give you the appropriate amount of space to do so.
- Other road users. No matter how experienced and safety conscious a rider you are, you are unable to control the actions of the other users of the road that you are sharing. What you can do however, is be aware of these other users and give yourself the best knowledge of what other road users you may be about to face when riding on the road in the dark. At night time on the road at some point you are likely to come across tired drivers, drunk drivers or animals. By taking your journey a little slower than you normally would in the daylight (especially on corners) and leaving extra space between you and the vehicle ahead, you will be in a good position to react.
- Carrots? They’re worth a try, and they’re healthy – but to check your eyes are in top shape, get them tested regularly.
With thanks to:
MCams, (2014) Riding at night? 6 tips to keep you safe. Available at: http://www.mc-ams.co.uk/blog/riding-night-tips-keep-safe/
Rideapart (2013) How to ride at night. Available at: https://rideapart.com/articles/how-to-ride-a-motorcycle-at-night