by Dennis Dalman
All bicyclists should never ride after dark unless they make efforts to become highly visible to motorists, the Sartell Police Department is advising.
Recently, a man walked into the police department to complain about how many young people ride bikes who cannot be seen after dark. The department then contacted the Sartell Newsleader to request a story about that topic.
“It’s important for all bicycle riders, both young and old, to understand when they are on the roadway, they need to obey all traffic laws as drivers of motor vehicles do,” said Sartell Police Chief Jim Hughes. “State law talks about requirements when riding a bicycle at nighttime, which includes the operator or bicycle having a lamp that emits a white light to the front and a red reflector to the rear. It’s also important to have reflectors on the wheel spokes as well as on the front and rear of the bicycle, even in low-light conditions, so a motorist’s headlamps pick up the reflection so they can see you.”
Other night-riding bicycle tips are the following, as recommended by many websites devoted to bicycle safety:
• Buy reflective decals and place them on both sides of the wheels’ rims (the spinning draws attention), on both sides of the biker’s shoes and on the helmet.
• Always wear light-colored clothing when biking and make sure some articles of clothing (or stickers on clothing) are highly reflective.
• Keep two inexpensive LED “blinkie lights” on your bike at all times. The unobtrusive lights attached to handlebars or the seat post can be turned on to catch the attention of motorists, especially in a case when the bicycle’s headlamp may go out.
To be completely safe, it’s best to avoid riding a bicycle at night, period. Even highly reflective bicyclists can be in danger on dark roadways. Parents should discourage children from ever riding their bicycles after dark. At the very least, parents should make sure their children’s bicycles are equipped with proper headlamps, front-and-rear reflectors and reflective (or very light) clothing.
For more information about adequate night-riding bicycle equipment, call or visit a local bicycle shop.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.
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