Practically speaking, three years of night shift commuting (6:00 p.m./6:00 a.m., and 5:00 p.m./1:00 a.m.) allowed me a glimpse at the dark side of commuting, pun intended. No matter when one commutes by bike and shares a road with motorists, danger lurks in places unaware. While during the day we deal with traffic in volume and sunlight decreasing visibility during certain months, at night there are nocturnal wildlife and…the other nocturnal wildlife: the drunks.
While some of this may sound like common sense, there was a time when each and every point following were eschewed due to either ignorance or inconvenience. How I am still alive to be riding today is something I ponder during my brief daily conversation with the man upstairs.
- Light: You cannot have enough of it. A pothole sucks when you see it, and it sucks harder when you don’t.
- Route: You cannot know it well enough. Helps in planning for the unexpected. When you know what to expect, especially at night, the better your loved ones feel.
- Defense: You should be carrying something to ward off would be assailants, such as bears and dogs (frightening experience with both, and both times Wasp spray ended the conflict). This did not help in the bunny-induced endo I unwillingly performed which resulted in a hairline fracture to my elbone.
- Dog Tags: You need to be identified in the event of an accident, but this also applies to daytime riders.
Bottom line is you cannot plan for everything, but you can most certainly maintain heightened awareness for the duration of a ride at night. There aren’t many of us who dare roll during the hours ungodly, but plan well, and you will not find yourself lamenting time and miles lost due to working the graveyard shift.