Anything can happen anywhere, anytime. However, certain activities like running alone or in the dark add to risk. But, sometimes you just have to get your exercise in and that may lead to a run during the wee morning hours or a bike ride in the evening after a long workday. When running alone or in the dark, and especially when running alone in the dark, safety should be the number one priority.
What to Do
The first thing you should do is control your environment as much as possible by running and biking in well-populated and well-lit areas. Also, stay safe with situational awareness and pay close attention to your surroundings when running in the dark or alone. Furthermore, pedestrian accidents increase at night, so if choosing to run on the road instead of the sidewalk, run facing traffic as a precaution and to avoid surprises from behind. Safety means staying safe from cars as well as crime.
What to Bring
Sometimes the environment may not be as well-lit or populated as would be ideal, and additional safety measures are needed. If so, here are a few things you should carry with you to stay safe while running or biking at night or alone:
- A Smartphone – This is needed day or night for obvious reasons i.e. for making or receiving emergency calls or notifications. But skip the workout playlist when running alone or in the dark; you’ll need to stay as alert and undistracted as possible to avoid crime or accidents. However, in the event of an occurrence, smartphone apps that can track and locate you and even send out emergency messages are available. Also, iPhone users have the option to make 911 calls at the touch of a button.
- Noisemakers – Alarms, whistles, or sirens are useful to ward off would-be attackers or to attract attention for any needed help.
- ID – Keep this on hand to identify you and your address in the case of an emergency.
When running alone, the primary goal is to stay safe by avoiding crime. When running at night, the goal includes visibility (to see and be seen) to avoid injury – as well as safety from crime. The following items are necessities for running (or biking) in the dark:
- Running Lights – Light sources are used primarily to illuminate the path ahead, alight a specific object, or attract attention. Though a smartphone’s built-in flashlight is yet another reason to carry one, it’s better to save the phone battery for emergencies. Instead, use a separate light source. Hand-held lights are fine but while running and more so biking, hands-free is the best (and safest) option. Hands-free running lights include headlamps, clip-on lights, chest lights, shoe lights, or stylish and functional LED visors and LED hats. What’s great about LED visors and hats is that they provide quality lighting like a headlamp but also have rear flashing lights to alert those approaching from behind. Furthermore, they are known to be more comfortable with less jolt than headlamps.
- Reflective Gear – These help vehicles and others see you and stay clear. There are all types of bright, neon, or reflective clothing (vest, armbands, running belts and shoes) to alert cars to the presence of bikers and runners before they get too close.
Implementing the above measures will help runners and bikers feel more secure on solo/dark bike rides and runs. And of course, running belts are useful for carrying these needed items. By practicing running and biking safety, you will feel a sense of security, which will lead to better performance.
Have a great and safe run/bike ride!