BikeArlington: ‘Light Up Your Bike’ at Night

by ARLnow.com October 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm 3,110 57 Comments

BikeArlington is reminding local cyclists to “light up your bike” as the fall days continue to get darker earlier.

Clocks will “fall back” an hour in less than three weeks, when Daylight Saving Time ends. For safety, and to comply with a state law that requires the use of front white lights on bikes when it’s dark, BikeArlington issued the following reminder.

As the days get shorter, and the nights get longer, we all still have to go about our business. And daylight savings time ends on Sunday, November 4. That means we’ll be walking, biking and driving in the dark more often, so it’s very important to be a PAL [link added] when you’re getting around Arlington after sunset. Being visible is a crucial part of being Predictable, Alert, and Lawful.

For one, you can’t be predictable if no one can see you, so if you plan to bike in the dark, you should wear reflective clothing and use bike lights. Lights also help illuminate your path so you can stay alert while you’re riding, and lastly Virginia law requires all bikers to use front white lights and rear red reflectors when dark (these can be attached to your helmet, bag, or bike) and rear red lights are required on roads 35 mph and up. It’s a good idea to be as visible as possible so we recommend always having rear red lights.

Visit www.BikeArlington.com/PAL for more information on being a visible PAL.

  • bobco85

    I recommend lights for dog-walkers (and their dogs), runners, and everyone else on foot. Just remember that white lights should face forwards and red lights should face backwards.

    Having lights and/or reflective clothing is important for everyone, especially on the trails where they can be the difference between being seen and being completely invisible in dark areas. Don’t be a ninja!

    • bobco85

      I mean in addition to cyclists (just in case of confusion).

  • Captain_Obvious

    Stop at red lights and stop signs too. Oh right, they’re supposed to do that anyway.

    • malaka

      Why does this bother you so?
      Most cyclists I see who cross at red lights do this only after stopping or slowing down to make sure it is safe to cross before crossing slowly – not blasting through red lights in front of cars….kind of like I’m sure you do if you are ever on foot…otherwise their life expectancy would not be so good.
      Cars on the other hand accelerate at yellow and blast through at twice the speed limit on red.

      • Captain_Obvious

        Cause its against the law and bikes are considered a vehicle on the road. Does that mean I can do the same thing in my car? Can I turn left on red just cause no cars are coming ?

        • Quoth the Raven

          Sure you can. And if you get caught, you’ll get a ticket. And you know that, which is one reason you don’t do it. But there is no enforcement for bikes. I’ve seen them blow through red lights right in front of cops, and yet they aren’t ticketed. So as there is no deterrent, there is no reason not to do it.

          • Captain_Obvious


          • Hmmmm?

            there is enforcement for bikes – cyclists get tickets.

          • Captain_Obvious


        • malaka

          again why doe it bother you so much?…it’s not like it endangers anyone else..like cars who break traffic laws. …that’s why there is little enforcement. You just hate to see someone “get way with it” ?
          Also it IS legal in some states to bike through red lights after waiting to make sure no traffic is coming (as bikes can’t trip the magnetic signals)

          • Quoth the Raven

            So people get to decide which laws they should follow and which they can just ignore, as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone? I didn’t know that was the standard.

            Simply put, it does bother me when people break the law. Sorry.

            And if it’s legal in some states, that’s great. Is it legal here?

          • Hmmmm?

            “So people get to decide which laws they should follow and which they can just ignore, as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone? ”

            folks do that all the time, if they can get away with it. How many drivers stick to the speed limit and never deliberately drive even 1 MPH over it?

          • Captain_Obvious

            People commit crimes all the time and get away with it. Is that ok? Or in this case its ok?

          • Captain_Obvious

            How do you know it doesn’t endanger anyone? Furthermore, it reeks of “I can do whatever I want to do”.

          • Hmmmm?

            The Idaho stop? There have been studies done, including, you know, in Idaho.

            There’s reason to think it REDUCES danger, IIUC.

          • malaka

            I’m no Lance…but I find your obsession amusing

          • Captain_Obvious

            I find yours amusing too. Pot, meet kettle.

        • 5555624

          Many people do it in their car, too. How many motorists only slow down for a STOP sign? Don’t stop before making a right turn on red?

          Cyclists and motorists all need to obey the law.

          • Captain_Obvious

            Yes with your last comment. But, in my opinion, cyclists break the stop sign/red light law more often than motorists and that’s based on %. I said earlier, in 8 years of living here, I can count on 1 hand the # of times I have seen a cyclist come to a complete stop at a red light /stop sign. I see that on a daily basis with motorists…

  • DebbieBoone

    Light up or get lit up…

  • Debs

    …and stay OFF your cell phone and keep at least one ear open to listen for traffic…whether you are on foot, bike, doggie walking, or whatever on the trails. I actually saw a guy walking with his headphones on…totally ignoring a park ranger in a small SUV who had come up behind him….at night….with the SUV’s headlights on….

  • CW

    Light up your bike? I agree with that. Now about the dozens of cars I see with no headlights on…

    • Captain_Obvious

      Dozens? don’t know about that, especially since modern cars have automatic headlights now. Also, I see 10x more bikers disobeying simple driving laws than cars without headlights…

      • drax

        Maybe not at night, but I see dozens in the rain with no headlights though.

        • AdvocatesDevil

          Not to mention those who are driving in highly lit areas
          that don’t notice their lights are not on until they leave
          the lit areas.

        • Captain_Obvious

          during rain, I agree it’s probably dozens, but that also could be because people may not know its a law in VA. However, this article was about biking in the dark.

      • CW

        Yes, dozens. Not everyone drives a brand new luxury car.

        • Captain_Obvious

          modern does not equal luxury. “Obviously”, you’re exaggerating.

          • OutTheLiar


          • drax

            Not all modern cars have this feature.

          • Captain_Obvious

            Thanks for the correction…semantics.

        • SHLady

          My 2006 Toyota Matrix has automatic headlights.

          • DCBuff


          • speonjosh

            I seem to recall owning a 2000 (1999?) Subaru Legacy that had automatic headlights.

            They’re not a luxury feature.

      • CryingWitch

        I see cars without headlights on all of the time – esp during the day. LOL

  • Charles

    I’m a careful, defensive biker but I’m not the problem… the problem is that there are even more drivers who are stupid, inconsiderate, or in a hurry and who just don’t look. To make myself as visible as possible, I use a white light on the front and a red flasher on the back. there’s no perfect solution, but I’m not dead yet…

    • Captain_Obvious

      good for you cause you are certainly in the minority.

      • drax

        Still, he’s right that there are many drivers who are stupid, inconsiderate, or in a hurry and who just don’t look.

        • Captain_Obvious

          Yes there are, I totally agree.

      • CW

        Your hate-filled troll schtick is getting old, Maynard.

        • Captain_Obvious

          My comments are no more “troll” than yours. I’m just sick and tired of bikers always complaining about vehicles, especially when I rarely see bikers obey simple laws such as stop signs and red lights.

          • ZingPatrol

            Trolls hate being one-downed!

          • CW

            I know your motive…

            “Eye on the TV
            ’cause tragedy thrills me…
            That’s my kind of story
            It’s no fun ’til someone dies”

          • Captain_Obvious

            bingo !

          • godfila

            That’s plagiarism!

      • Hmmmm?

        my impression is that most cyclists bike safely.

        The only infraction that is commited by the majority is treating a stop sign as a yield sign (Idaho stop) which is a typical biking infraction, much as driving a few MPH over the speed limit is a typical drivers infraction.

        As for lights, the only cyclists I regularly see riding at night without lights are folks on cheap bikes without helmets, who may have immigrated from countries with a very different bicycle culture.

        • Quoth the Raven

          I guess impressions differ, b/c my impression is that most cyclists do not bike safely — it’s not stop signs that are treated as yield signs, it’s red lights. Slowing down before going through doesn’t make it a lot safer. If you want to use the road, then obey the traffic laws that everyone on the road is supposed to obey.

          • Captain_Obvious

            +1, and I can count the number of times on 1 hand that I’ve seen a biker signal which direction they are turning.

          • Hmmmm?

            1. you probably notice violators more than folks obeying the law – thats human nature

            2. I was in DC the other day, where the red lights are close enough together to be really difficult for a cyclist trhing to maintain momentum, and even there most folks stopped at the lights.

            3. Slowing down definitely matters, because cyclists can see whats coming pretty well.

            4. I would not counsel anyone to not obey the law, but there are certain minor and harmless infractions that are typical for each form of travel.

          • Hmmmm?

            And Ive seen drivers fail to signal a huge number of times, despite it being physically much easier for them to do so than for a cyclist.

        • 7-11-bum

          immigrants with cheap bikes and no helmets are usually biking on the sidewalk in my neighborhood. But it would be nice if they wore something reflective so I could get out of the way before they mowed me down.

    • 7-11-bum

      Actually, bikers need to put blinky/glowing things on their spokes so they can be seen from the side. They also sell glowing tire caps. And glowing jackets or armbands help too. I’ve almost hit bikers in right turning lanes because at the angle of approach + parked cars +lack of lighting, I couldn’t see their front/back lights.

  • arlcyclist

    PSA I: It’s Daylight Saving Time, not Savings.

    PSA II: If you’re a cyclist with a super bright high powered light like a NiteRider, please don’t use the flashing strobe setting while riding on MUTs like Custis and MV.

    • CW

      +1. However, I’d advocate that people definitely use them on the Key Bridge sidewalks. It really gets the attention of the aimlessly wandering pedestrians clogging the entire width.

    • darsasx

      The strobe combined with the offending cyclists’ bright-yellow-spandex-with-corporate-logo-shirts has been proven to cause epileptic seizures. . .

    • Pessimist

      No, what they meant was, you’d better start saving, because after the election on the 6th, who knows what’s going to happen to the economy.

  • Just the Facts

    It’s “Daylight Saving Time” not “Savings.”


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