Saturday, November 26, 2011
Lately, we've been riding a lot in the dark-- just because it's winter and the sun sets earlier and we're often still out and about. I've never been too concerned about doing that. All you need are lights and to be a little more attentive to whether drivers have seen you at intersections, driveways, etc. The past week or so though, night-riding has been a pain. We have two bikes with front and rear dynamos-- the Breezer bike and the bakfiets-- and one bike with a front dynamo-- the Japanese bike. Lighting for these bikes is easy and requires no forethought. The rest of the bikes (and the back of the Japanese bike) depend on battery-powered lights and we've had all kinds of little problems-- lights that have fallen off while riding, lights with dead batteries (kids mess with these and they'll get left on in the garage), lights that are poorly attached to handlebars, and lights that get moved around from bike to bike and aren't where you expect them to be. Yesterday afternoon, before leaving on a trip to Rancho San Antonio with my girls, we spent a good fifteen minutes making sure the girls were outfitted with working lights (and that they weren't stealing lights that Jeremy would need when he'd meet us later that afternoon!). I thought everything was great when the girls each had a front light attached to their handlebars and a red blinkie attached to the backs of their helmets (something I saw on a cyclist while driving-- more visible than a light attached low on a kid's bike, I think). After our final stops of the day (or by then, night) at Trader Joe's and a bike shop, however, Daniella had somehow managed to lose part (the part holding batteries!) of her back light/ helmet light. Jeremy and Gabriella were ahead of me and Daniella, so I just had Daniella ride in front of me, since I figured cars would see the back light on my bakfiets. For some reason, being in front made Daniella uncomfortable and I had to coax her toward home. In retrospect, I guess we could have just bought yet another light at the bike store (duh!), but Nathaniel was close to getting fussy, and we were close to home anyway, and I don't think I really would have wanted to shell out more money for another light we'd probably break or lose. Nothing dreadful happened on the way home. No car hit us or came close to us. No cop stopped us for Daniella's lacking light (and no rear reflector either). There's no real point to this post, except to express my opinion that seemingly small convenient things like dynamo lights make a huge positive difference when herding a posse around on bikes. And at the rate we go through lights and batteries, they're probably a lot more cost effective too! Does anyone else have reflections on riding at night? How do you keep you and your kids all lit up? Any recommendations for good after-market dynamo systems?