Safe solo night rides

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Safe solo night rides

Postby ILMB » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:23 pm

Hi

I'm a newish female commuting cyclist (hoping to eventually ditch the car), and would like to know whether I should be concerned about cycling solo after dark.

It would be useful to know about hot-spots to avoid, and safe after-dark cycling practice. E.g. Do I move away from recommended cycle routes back onto more busy / better lit areas, or should empty streets still be a priority?

I'm currently commuting around a 10km radius from Naremburn.

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by BNA » Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:45 pm

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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby gururug » Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:45 pm

Key word is confident. Answer these questions.

-Are you confident you know the roads/route? ( potholes, glass, cracks in road, barriers, unlit streets, etc. )
-Are you visible from 70+ meters away ( 60--70km/h ) ?
-What is your relative speed to adjacent traffic?
-Is it a hoon/hi volume traffic time?
-What is your current alertness / roadcraft level?

Depending on your answers above, you can formulate a strategy, to minimise risks.

i.e.

-If roads are poor, ride footpath slow
-If you are less visible avoid high speed roads
-If it's a busy time, leave 1 hour earlier or later
-If you feeling fatigued, take the back streets
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby wombatK » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:06 am

ILoveMyBike wrote:Do I move away from recommended cycle routes back onto more busy / better lit areas, or should empty streets still be a priority?

I'm currently commuting around a 10km radius from Naremburn.

It's more important what motorists can see than what you can see. If you haven't already, get a good set of lights (Ayups or equivalents), and a 1W LED tail-light, and wear clothing or a vest with good high reflectance striping (like Hi-Vis work-clothing).
None of that will set you back more than a ride in an ambulance :)

You're still better off in places where cyclists are expected (like the designated cycleways) - or off-road cycleways - than riding
on major arterial roads.

So if you're using the cycling routes to the Harbour Bridge or Epping Rd, just keep at it - there are heaps of other cyclists on them at all times after dark.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby ILMB » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:47 am

Thanks Gururug & WombatK

I think l aready have the safety gear as suggested sorted.

I should have been clearer about my concerns.

Are the streets around where I live safe for women on their own late at night?

Once a week I commute from Naremburn to Roseville at night. My return journey is around 22h30. The recommended safe council marked cycle routes are through back streets and along unlit (very dark) shared paths through nature areas in Artarmon and Naremburn. I'm well lit up and can see my route.

But should I be concerned about being on my own? I would be reluctant to walk in these areas on my own at that time of night.

Is there a point/situations when one has to compromise generic cyclist safety because of gender, and get back onto populated, well lit roads where one is again exposed to potential danger from motorists?

I am not trying to be paranoid or fear monger. I am generally pretty confident about things. But it is important to be aware and not deliberately put oneself in danger if there are safe alternatives.

TIA
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby gururug » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:04 am

Valid concerns...... I don't know your particular area, hopefully someone else can chime in with some regional info.

Being on a bike can insulate you from many safety threats that exist in a pedestrian environment. At the same time it can expose you to a few.

I'd definitely consider activating some sort of phone location feature, so people you know can track where you are. Also quick dial. A phone can bring a solo person extra security.

The trick is not being isolated, in a dark park, a flat on a quiet road etc. Most of these things you can control. Motorists on the other hand.....
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby ILMB » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:54 am

Thanks gururug. Hadn't thought about using the phone as a safety device. May look at adding a tracking app as well. Will give my partner peace-of-mind; but maybe also too much information! (No more hiding sneaking off for a quick coffee with mates)

I think I'm going to flick the black nature area cycle ways, and use well-lit low traffic roads for the commute home.
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Safe solo night rides

Postby RonK » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:57 pm

Take care with tracking apps that your route is not public - you don't want just anybody tracking you.
An app that I think is worth having is RescueMe, which texts your location to a nominated phone number.
It's also worth considering an identifier such as a RoadID bracelet or chain.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby trailgumby » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:18 pm

I agree with staying away from unlit routes at night. Your biggest safety asset is other people. Staying where others can see and find you is important.

Bright headlight type lights like Ay-Ups are also a major safety assets. By blinding a potential attacker, they are intimidated and are more likely to leave you alone.

I had a situation with a strange mid-thirties male move to the centre of the bike path and plant himself as if ready to bring somebody to a halt just as I rounded the corner under the Concord Rd bridge near Rhodes one evening. He got the full hotspot from the helmet lights in the face and backed away just as I passed. I didn't twig until later what he might have been planning.

I didn't change my route, but was ready thereafter. I didn't see him again.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:05 pm

gururug wrote:Key word is confident. Answer these questions.

-Are you confident you know the roads/route? ( potholes, glass, cracks in road, barriers, unlit streets, etc. )
-Are you visible from 70+ meters away ( 60--70km/h ) ?
-What is your relative speed to adjacent traffic?
-Is it a hoon/hi volume traffic time?
-What is your current alertness / roadcraft level?

Depending on your answers above, you can formulate a strategy, to minimise risks.

i.e.

-If roads are poor, ride footpath slow
-If you are less visible avoid high speed roads
-If it's a busy time, leave 1 hour earlier or later
-If you feeling fatigued, take the back streets


+1
and on top of everything else, try and see what a driver of threat will see. Classic case is if you are heading west at dusk, try and imagine what the fellow behinds sees, at speed. If you are not seen and noticed then all else is secondary. :cry:
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby wombatK » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:02 pm

trailgumby wrote:Bright headlight type lights like Ay-Ups are also a major safety assets. By blinding a potential attacker, they are intimidated and are more likely to leave you alone.

Not so easy to do if the lights are bar-mounted, but a snap if you have them helmet mounted.

The time of night (22:30) makes it worth being concerned about safety. While it wouldn't be problematic for most guys,
girls have some extra risks to consider. Maybe think about how you could look less feminine and more masculine
on the bike (i.e. not wearing close fitting tights, pink colours etc.,.). You probably needs some extra layers on for
protection from the cold at this time of year, so hiding your shape shouldn't be too hard.

Isolated sections of cycleways in parks and under freeways are probably well worth avoiding. At that time of night, some
of the main roads ought be safer.

It's might also help to avoid being in the same place at the same time - i.e. mixing up your route, and/or work leaving times.
Just to make it a bit more difficult for any low-life to plan an ambush.

Lastly, make sure there is someone aware of your travel plans - who could get help if you don't turn up when expected, and
who'd be willing to put up with an sms from you to say "home safe" or "work safe" after each ride (and delayed, flat tyre, etc.,.
if necessary).

Cheers
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby Lizzy » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:04 pm

Hi ILMB, I'm also slowly getting more into utility/transport riding at night. An altercation with a sketchy character on my morning commute a few years ago (came out shaken but not stirred) equipped me with a healthy dose of paranoia so I'm still feeling my way a bit on the issue, so thanks for starting the discussion :)

While I don't have local knowledge I'd agree with steering clear of unlit and isolated cycleways. One of the first few times I rode alone at night, I picked a riverside path in narrow preference to a highway I avoid even in daytime - well, I immediately regretted it and took the first opportunity to get back onto a road (every rustle in the bushes, real or imagined, sent my heart racing :x )

The more I do it the less it bothers me, although I might take the above advice re some better lights :)
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby trailgumby » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:30 pm

wombatK wrote:It's might also help to avoid being in the same place at the same time - i.e. mixing up your route, and/or work leaving times.
Just to make it a bit more difficult for any low-life to plan an ambush.

Lastly, make sure there is someone aware of your travel plans - who could get help if you don't turn up when expected, and
who'd be willing to put up with an sms from you to say "home safe" or "work safe" after each ride (and delayed, flat tyre, etc.,.
if necessary).

Cheers

Both good ideas there.

re: Ayups, I have both helmet and bar mounted.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby grasshopper » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:50 pm

ILoveMyBike wrote:But should I be concerned about being on my own? I would be reluctant to walk in these areas on my own at that time of night.

Is there a point/situations when one has to compromise generic cyclist safety because of gender, and get back onto populated, well lit roads where one is again exposed to potential danger from motorists?

I haven't lived there for years, but if I'm leaving the city late at night here I have the choice of a quiet riverside path and road and I take the road every time cos I prefer having people around and street lights. +1 to good lights. For the most part, people don't know whether you're a chick or bloke in the dark until they're up close (which can be embarrassing for ute drivers :lol: ) so I'm not sure it's riskier than for blokes.

If you come across someone that gives you the creeps, trust your gut and avoid them. It's not your job to spare their feelings. And if you get a flat somewhere dodgy, ride the rim to somewhere safe and lit; rims are replaceable. That said, I'm quite happy riding my regular training route til mid evening while there's at least one other rider around, and the bike gives me freedom to exercise at night like I never would on foot.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby elStado » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:11 am

Ride fast, confidently and well lit and you should be safe. Have a fully charged mobile phone on you that is easily accessible just in case.

I'm a young male so generally I don't have any concerns like this. But there's a few dark and quiet sections of path around my area that I don't enjoy riding through late at night as there's a few bushes where someone could hide behind and no housing around. I found that my new Ay Up lights made riding these sections much less intimidating as I could see more around me.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby Lazyweek » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:52 pm

trailgumby wrote:I had a situation with a strange mid-thirties male move to the centre of the bike path and plant himself as if ready to bring somebody to a halt just as I rounded the corner under the Concord Rd bridge near Rhodes one evening.


I imagine something like this could be quite intimidating. Once I was leaving a carpark at night (in a car) with some friends when a guy blocked the exit. His friend then came up to us and politely asked if we wanted to have a fight. We declined and the guy stepped out of the way to let us go. Being stopped on a bike is not something I would like at all. I wonder whether some bike handling skills would be useful for a bit of extra confidence i.e. jump a gutter, quick turning/accelerating.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby cp123 » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:35 pm

I've been riding in the dark and both early and late for almost 30 years. Sometimes I'm riding home at 7 or after 11. Just depends on the job and on the day. I've had people who think i'm nuts for riding alone at night but i figure most of the nutbags are at home in bed. Well i hope so. i've had ONE serious incident in all the time (i wrote about elsewhere in this forum and if i can find it i'll link it later). - edited to add - see the 2nd last page of the why don't women commute? thread if anyone is remotely interested - (but don't bother wasting your time :lol: )

I don't want to let the bastards win though. I have a combination of main roads with lanes, and paths in the middle of nowhere and the only people you'll see there are dog walkers and the like, the odd weirdo, (and i just blind them in the eyes and keep going), or other normal people. I'd like to think that 99% of the people in the world are good, and the mongrel or stupidly dangerous people are fairly small in number. I don't have any reservations about my area as safe, but judge people by their actions. I always turn my head away or turn lights off for other cyclists (don't want to blind them) and quite often a bloke will say "thanks mate". I said "no worries" and they go "oh!" assuming i was another bloke. As someone said, you can't tell.

I have serious hard core lights on my bike as well as on my lid (so i can see round corners and look off into the trees etc. most of the rustles you hear are cats and possums. Most of my trips are on roads but when i get to the suburbs I often veg along the paths. It's actually quite pleasant riding late at night because there's bugger all traffic and its just peaceful.

I have lived here for most of the time, but also commuted when i lived in Melbourne. I finished Uni at 9.30 at night so it was about quarter to 10 when I rode out of RMIT and off home along the Gardiner's Creek trail (Melbourne). I have also ridden in Sydney (totally unfamiliar to me) thanks to another forum member who gave me a route (WombatK is a champ! :lol: :lol: ) and was tootling home about 1 and 2 am. There were enough other cyclists on that route at that time of night that it was like Bourke Street mall. :shock: weird. don't sydney people sleep?

Anyway, I don't know your area but have never felt any real hassle. Bogues in commodores may give you a honk, or cut you off, or yell out the window at you but it's amazing to either pretend to pull out a phone to take a photo of them (they usually sh** themselves and drive off), or just ride into somewhere safe like a petrol station.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby elStado » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:00 pm

Lazyweek wrote:Once I was leaving a carpark at night (in a car) with some friends when a guy blocked the exit. His friend then came up to us and politely asked if we wanted to have a fight. We declined and the guy stepped out of the way to let us go.


Lolwot? That's pretty sketchy. What sort of characters were they?
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby ILMB » Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:38 pm

Thanks for all the advice and comments.

I now have 2 routes along well-lit albeit busier sections; but manageable after 22h00.

Have had a few situations where drivers have been a little inconsiderate, but on the whole it's OK.

I have ordered a better dynamo light, have added another battery powered light to my handlebars, and also wear my camping head torch now.

My mobile phone is easily accessible, and I turn off the security logon feature so I can quickly use it if required.

I am still resourcing a tracking app (Android Nuvi GPS Smartphone). Another thread lists a few Android compatible apps, that I just need to get around to trialing them.

The comments from other late-night female riders have also been very reassuring.

So thanks all.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby Lazyweek » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:54 am

elStado wrote:
Lazyweek wrote:Once I was leaving a carpark at night (in a car) with some friends when a guy blocked the exit. His friend then came up to us and politely asked if we wanted to have a fight. We declined and the guy stepped out of the way to let us go.


Lolwot? That's pretty sketchy. What sort of characters were they?


It was quite strange, as I said, the guy that asked was quite friendly but at the same time I don't think he was joking. The guy blocking our exit didn't look like a friendly guy though, also there was a car load of their friends nearby too. Strange thing is, there are people out there that like fighting.
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Re: Safe solo night rides

Postby cp123 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:29 pm

ILoveMyBike wrote:Have had a few situations where drivers have been a little inconsiderate, but on the whole it's OK.

I



You get that anywhere in Australia. :wink: :lol:


I got home last night at about 9.30 and had a strange but new first time experience. :shock: Going downhill on a shared recreational path that isn't well lit (apart from my own lights) i can see a shadow ahead - is that a ninja, a pedestrian, a person, a something? slow, just in case it is a pedestrian ninja who may have a ninja dog off its lead somewhere. Got closer and closer and could see his white bald head and that's it. He was dressed fully in black making his body pretty invisible and his head was like a floating orb. He put both arms up (I at first assumed he was trying to block my lights) but it was like in a victory wave with both arms. By now i'm quite slow just in case and to be polite - you know how you do, but then he kneels down. :shock: Each arm was out beside him and he kissed the ground. I was virtually on him by now and all thoughts of "are you ok?" vanished in case he could've been weird. That's the first time anyone has bowed to me on a bike. :lol: :lol:

Maybe he was Muslim and it was his praying hour? weird. I have no idea.
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