There was a recent post on my local Nextdoor Venice group chastising a woman riding at night on Rose Avenue in Venice with without lights and a “a baby seat attached to the handle bars with a baby in it”. And, god forbid, she “was riding in the cross walk to get a cross the street at a busy intersection.” Other posters chimed in with the blaming saying she should have been wearing brightly colored clothing instead of black. And, of course, eventually we got the obligatory cyclist hating “I’ve never seen a cyclist stop at stop sign” post — something I’ve already discussed here.
Before I continue, let me say that I feel absolutely no one should be riding at night without a decent front light and a rear red light. It’s dangerous and always makes me cringe when I see a cyclist doing this, as I know they are the ones who would eventually pay the price. In addition, it’s against the law. But see my suggestion for a great light kit later in the article.
That being said, I take exception with the other assumptions:
- We should be focused on ensuring that our streets safe enough that a mother with her child riding a bike should feel safe and secure. Venice is an extremely rideable community. If we can’t transport ourselves on the streets here, where can we?
- Riding in the crosswalk? First of all, it’s completely legal. Second, how would this be any different than a mother walking in the crosswalk with her child (or stroller)?
- Rose being characterized as one of our “busy public streets.” Actually, Rose is an ideal two lane street for mixed traffic. In fact, it now has bike lanes for most of the stretch between Pacific and Lincoln Avenue
- I wear black all the time when riding. My light kit alone serves enough as an alert that I’m riding on the road. I mean…should we ban black cars? Should we forbid pedestrians from wearing black? If you want to wear more visible clothing depending upon the circumstances, that’s totally fine — I do in many situations myself. But peddling around Venice at night to hit a restaurant or bar shouldn’t require it.
Let’s put the onus of safety where it should be: on the drivers who can cause injury to those less vulnerable. Enough with the (potential) victim blaming.
I’ve been riding for years at night (in black) with a fantastic set of lights from NiteRider. Both are incredibly bright and USB rechargeable so you’re not filling landfills with used batteries. These both have multiple modes, with the flashing of the front light enough to daze anyone in their path. The rear light is so bright that it’s incredibly annoying to ride behind a cyclist using one.
So if you don’t have any lights — go and get these. Then ride at night with black clothes all you want. Or dayglo yellow. You’ll be fine.
Front light: NiteRider Lumina Micro 350 ($41.99)
Rear light: NiteRider Solas 150 ($37.95)
Combination package ($74.99)