Hey friends, happy fall! Hard to believe it's already November. We have been so fortunate (unless you're hungry for ski season!) not to have a first freeze or snow just yet, so the leaves have been hanging in there and we have had the glorious opportunity to enjoy those colors even longer this year!
The time changes this weekend, and with the "fall back," comes darker bike commutes!
On that note, let me address bike lights. I have been regularly riding to a new local brewery here in Golden (literally- faster to ride than drive there!) and as I've parted ways with my friends in the evenings, they've all commented about my bright bike lights:
"Oh, I didn't know that bike lights were required!"
Short answer: Yes, bike lights are mandatory, from sunset to sunrise (Here in CO and in most other states, too). Specifically, cyclists need a white light on the front and a red reflector (I recommend a light) on the back. Cyclists also need to be reflective to the sides! (So check those high-viz options or add reflective tape if you are not visible from the sides).
Here's why this matters:
1) You need to see where you are riding, and what you are riding over! Riding in the dark, unable to see your path, is not good. It's dangerous.
2) Other road users need to see you! Folks joke about "bike ninjas," as in, those cyclists wearing all dark colors with zero lights or reflective gear, but it's not funny at all. Cars cannot be expected to avoid cyclists they cannot see. The law requires cyclists to use lights because as a vehicle, you are expected to be visible at night just like cars are required to use their lights at night.
*So -Will an officer ticket you if they observe you riding without lights? Maybe. The bigger issue is that if you are hit by a car while riding in the dark, and you don't have appropriate lights on your bike/person, you may be considered at fault or partially at fault, even if you were doing everything else right. Don't put yourself at risk!
Be visible - don't be shy when you buy those bike lights; the money you spend is a very wise investment! I recently purchased a Light & Motion 800 lumen light for the front light -it is AMAZING. It lights up the entire road- I can see so clearly, AND it is USB-rechargeable so you don't have to deal with batteries. I also use a frogger (blinky) light on the front as an attention-getter to oncoming traffic. On the back of my bike, I have a red light (steady mode) and a second one I sent to blinky mode. My gear typically has reflective piping on the sides, also.
The applicable CO statute sections are as follows (most states use very similar language):
§ 42-4-221. Bicycle and personal mobility device equipment
Every bicycle, … in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 (see below) shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front.
Every bicycle, … shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the department, which shall be visible for six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.
Every bicycle, … when in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least five hundred feet.
§ 42-4-204. When lighted lamps are required
(1) Every vehicle upon a highway within this state, between sunset and sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet ahead, shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices as required by this article for different classes of vehicles, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles…
Shown here: my front light with a full moon = absolutely the most magical night ride!