City life doesn’t stop when the sun goes down and neither does cycling. Riding at night can be a completely different experience to daylight cycling. We visit the vibrant city of Hamburg to discover how city cycling feels after dark.
Enjoy exploring the dark side
Your bike is your ticket to urban nightlife. It is a safe, reliable and fast way to get around the city. But it's more than just transport – on your bike you can see a new side to your city. As some streets go dark other areas light up and the night is yours to explore.
Riding your bike at night you will see a different personality in your familiar city. When evening falls the rhythm of the city starts to shift. Commuter traffic bustling to get home can feel intense and busy but as the rush hour traffic subsides a hush of tranquillity falls over the office blocks and shopping streets as the city’s energy shifts towards lively cafes, bars and social spots.
A tour of Hamburg
As we pedal through Hamburg, we notice how the Strandkei is now quiet and silent as workers leave their office blocks for the day. We pedal through Kaiserkai, the bright lights of vacated buildings reflecting off the water and polished concrete. On our bikes at night we can own the empty roads getting a sense of speed and freedom not present during the congestion of the day.
As the hurrying figures of daytime workers leave the pace of people’s movement changes. Around St.Pauli and the Fischmarkt tourists linger, also enjoying the tranquillity that night time brings. As we near the heart of the St.Pauli district we trace our way to the Reeperbahn following the trail of neon coloured lights, the sound of laughter and music.
Emerging later hot from a bustling bar the cool night air revives us, ready for the cycle ride home. We cruise past the bus stops and the waving hands trying to flag down a taxi. Barely anyone is driving at this time of night. Pedalling keeps us warm and wakes us up. The sound of music dies away behind us till it is just the sound of our tyres over the cobbles and the night wind in our ears.
How to be a night time cyclist
Riding at night requires lights and bright or reflective clothing. Bike lights are required by law, the same as if driving a car at night. Lights are there to help you see the road and be seen by other road users. You need good bike lights that allow you to see clearly where you are going in the darker parts of town so you can avoid hazards in the road such as pot-holes or drain covers. Some electric and urban bikes come fitted with their own front and rear lights, so you never need to worry about forgetting them. If you need to fit lights to your bike there are many options for USB rechargeable lights that are long-lasting and powerful.
Regular city riders often opt for two front and rear lights. This means you have a back-up if one set fails and that you can set one light to constant and another to flashing. Flashing lights and moving reflectors help drivers to pick you out from other traffic. Reflective clothing can add to your visibility at night, especially reflective material on arms or gloves which help to show when you are indicating and turning.
Feel good cycling at night
Riding at night is fun and exciting, it is also a practical and fast way to explore the city. All you need to enjoy the night by bike is a good set of lights in addition to your usual bike and kit. Don’t leave your bike at home at night, it is your perfect after dark companion.
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