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Fall is here, which means it's getting darker sooner, and anyone who bikes to work will be biking back in the dark.  Visibility is a big issue for bikers even during the day, so learning how to bike at night is extra important.  Here are the best ways we've found to be seen and stay safe on our city bikes!

Outfit Your Bicycle

Lights & Reflectors

Make sure your bicycle is properly equipped.  In most states, bicyclists are required by law to have BOTH a white light on the front and a red light on the back of their bicycle.  Many lights are relatively inexpensive (think $15), but consider paying a few dollars more for rechargeable ones.  (Our city bikes are all outfitted with USB-powered lights for charging while we work!)

Similarly, most states require a bicycle to be outfitted with a white reflector in front, and a red in back.  Under federal law, all new bikes come with reflectors, but if you're buying used, make sure you check before you decide to bike at night.

Bell

It's also important to note that when visibility is decreased (like at night, or in the rain), you'll do well to get noticed in other ways--especially by making noise.  New York law requires every bicycle to be equipped with a bell, but just because that might not be the case in your state, doesn't mean it's not a good idea.  It will help you communicate your whereabouts to pedestrians and drivers who might not have seen you in the dark.  (Now might be a good time to check out the cutest bells we've found for city bikes...)

Outfit Yourself

Reflective Clothing

The more of you is visible when you bike at night, the safer you'll be, and adding reflective strips to your clothes & gear--or even purchasing garments specifically designed to be reflective--is a great way to make this happen.  Check out our recommendations for various jeans and other reflective clothes!

Lose the Earbud

We all love to spend summer days on our city bikes cruising to some awesome tunes.  But at night, it's a different story.  Here in Brooklyn, it's legal to ride with one earbud in--but that doesn't mean it's advisable at night, when you need to be able to rely on your other senses--specifically your hearing.  If you do want to listen to music, consider a small speaker.  It will keep you in the groove and actually help you stand out to drivers who might not see you.

Change Your Behavior

Choose a Route with a Bike Path

While riding in traffic isn't dangerous per se, it certainly gets more dangerous at night, when drivers who probably aren't expecting you may now also be unable to see you.  Making sure you stay in a bike lane for the duration of your commute is a great way to limit the dangers of riding at night.

Use Crosswalks Instead of the Turn Lane

There are usually at least two ways to make a turn when riding.  The first way is to ride across the intersection, stop at the crosswalk, wait for the light, cross with the pedestrians, then merge back into traffic and continue on your way.  The second is to wait in the turn lane (i.e. in the middle of the street) with all the other cars.  The former can be a time suck, but it's definitely the safer choice when visibility is decreased, and waiting in the middle of the street to turn becomes a dangerous choice.

Have other strategies that help you bike at night?  We'd love to hear them!  Leave a comment below or tweet them at us.


1 Response

Julia
Julia

September 24, 2018

I’m deaf and I can’t hear these bells from anywhere beyond maybe 1" away from my good ear (the one that’s only 75 decibels gone), and my hearing losses are in high frequency ranges (bells, whistles, a lot of the softer consonant sounds…)…. I have never found anything to make bicycle riding more deaf-friendly. You can trill your cute bell all you want, and if you are behind me, I’ll never know until you hit me and I go SPLAT! Yelling “left” or “right” or other notifications is also rather pointless because I can’t lipread people who are behind me…. So I’m always in a quandary…

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WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING IN BROOKLYN?

What Are the Differences Between the Franklin and Willow Step-through Models?

Looking at the Franklin and Willow, but not quite sure how the models compare? No worries – we get this question a lot, so we’ve put together a quick rundown on what sets these models apart!

 

#TLDR (AKA Too Long Didn't Read)? Here's a Quick Summary:

 SIMILARITIES DIFFERENCES
FRAME GEOMETRY HANDLEBARS
COLOR-MATCHED FENDERS & CHAINGUARD SADDLE
3-SPEED INTERNAL GEARING GRIPS
KICKSTAND INCLUDED TIRE COLOR
REAR CARRIER
CHAIN COATING
7-SPEED GEARING
FRAME MATERIALS

 

 

1. HANDLEBARS

This is probably the most notable difference between our step-through models. With the Willow featuring our Swept-Back Handlebars. This means a much more upright (European-style) riding position (think sitting in a chair) that is well suited for leisurely riding.

The Franklin models feature our Relaxed Ride Handlebars, which are slightly more aggressive and ideal for both commuting and leisurely weekend rides.

 

2. TIRES

The Willow comes with cream tires, whereas the Franklin sports black tires. Do note that regardless of color, all our tires offer an added layer of puncture resistance.

 

3. ACCESSORIES

The Willow is our premium model and includes a rear carrier, as well as an upgraded sprung saddle and grip set from Selle Royal’s Royalgel™ line.

The Franklin features Selle Royal Vegan Leather saddle and grips. Please note that this bike does not come with a rear carrier. If you would like to purchase a rear carrier for this model, you will need a 26” carrier for the S/M Franklin and a 700C carrier for the Large Franklin model.

Both models come with color matched fenders and chainguard, as well as a kickstand.

 

4. RUST-PROHIBITIVE COATING & GEARING

As our signature model, the Willow has a few additional premium features including a rust-prohibitive coating on the chain and internal gearing resulting in less maintenance and more riding.

The Franklin 3 model includes internal gearing (just like the Willow), whereas the Franklin 7 has an external 7-Speed derailleur.

 

5. FRAME MATERIALS

On a more technical note – the geometry on both frames is identical, however the Franklin and Willow models are made from different materials. Are you currently thinking “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?! I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT BIKES!!”? Do not fret – we totally get it! Take a breath and read on…

The Willow frame is made with double-butted 4130 Chromoly Steel. We use a stronger grade of steel, which allows us to use thinner tubing resulting in a lighter frame.

The Franklin frame is crafted with specially engineered high-tensile steel. What does this mean? We are able to offer a similar bike of a more moderate price point. Our Franklin model is the most economical step-through model in our portfolio of bikes (as well as a team favorite)!

Still have questions on sizing (or anything else)? Email us or schedule a concierge call with our team. We’d love to help!

 

Don’t forget: All of our bikes include Free Shipping & Professional Assembly.

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