Lit up like a Christmas Tree

It’s getting late pretty early now; we’re less than three weeks away from the shortest day. You might think this would be a good time to limit bike use to the daylight hours, but my son’s daycare just moved to a new location where parking is going to be very difficult so we’ll be taking the bike now more than ever.

I’ve spent the last few weeks getting it prepped to be on the roads in early evenings when it’s getting dark. I got spoke lights for the front wheel (the back wheel is almost entirely obscured by the kids’ seat so it doesn’t make much sense to light it up), an LED string light for the “monkey bars” (around where the kids sit), and LED lights for the basket. We each have a light for our helmets and I put an extra light on the back seat. The bike already came with a headlight (I had to get that fixed) and a rear light that take power from the bike’s battery. I also got my son, who sits at the back, a neon yellow puffy jacket and myself a running/cycling safety vest, along with reflective arm bands so motorists can see my hand signals. 

I know a lot of people think it’s too dangerous to ride in a city, and everyone knows the story of someone who has been in a bad accident. I’m trying hard to be safe, while not letting fear get the best of me. I do believe that if I’m highly visible (which is the case now), I can ride safely in the dark. I am always hyper vigilant on my bike, assuming motorist don’t see me or won’t respect my right to use the lane, and now I’m even more caution. I’ve been riding the bike long enough to feel very comfortable on it; I’m aware of what the bike can and cannot manage in almost any situation. 

Riding the bike continues to bring me a surprising amount of joy and contentment. There is something so freeing about navigating the city with the wind in my hair. And where we live the weather never gets prohibitively cold, so I should be able to keep riding it until next spring.

I’m so thankful that we had the financial resources to get this bike, and that we live in a city where bike lanes are well-marked and common (if not always smoothly paved). Riding a bike is such a great way to keep down carbon emissions and decrease traffic, which is a significant issues in San Francisco. I feel grateful every day I get to ride my bike, which I’ve been doing more and more often–my son and I have taken it all the way across the city, to some of our favorite places that present serious parking challenges. With the battery, I can ride that thing anywhere without breaking a sweat. It really is an incredible invention; it could revolutionize the way people get around.

My daughter doesn’t quite understand that I got all the lights for the bike so we would be visible to cars coming in both directions; she thinks we just lit the thing up like a Christmas tree. And I guess we did.


  1. It sounds like you’ve done everything you can for visibility! I especially like the idea of arm bands to make sure your turn signals are seen. My bike and helmet are well lit but I hadn’t thought about that. Among the people who ride with lights in the city (there are SO many in my city who don’t have any lights 🙁 ), I think they fall into two categories: those who have a rear light and a front light that meet the bare minimum legal requirements and those that have clearly made an effort to be SEEN. I don’t think just a front and a rear light are necessarily enough, though they are certainly better than nothing.

  2. You are hard core! I used to ride my bike home in the dark in grad school. I didn’t have all the lights you did, and the one I had on the handlebars would occasionally slip if I hit a bump and then I couldn’t see in front of me 😳…sounds like you couldn’t be missed. I like that your daughter thinks you are decorating your bike for the holidays.

  3. I haven’t read your blog in a while, but used to read your old one regularly. I just had to comment to say that I love the Yuba! We have one too and use it all the time. Happy riding!

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