Skating safely at night, seeing and being seen, can be accomplished more easily with the right equipment. Although no safety equipment can guarantee your safety, the ICB believes that the proper equipment—including lights, reflective gear, helmets, wrist guards, elbow and knee pads—can contribute to a safe, fun skating experience.
A blinking light on the back of your helmet, backpack, or belt will make you visible from behind. It will also indicate changes of direction or speed to trailing traffic. See, for example, the blinkies at Cat Eye. Other brands are also available. For retail purchases, visit your local supporting ICB retailer.
A light on the front of your helmet will enhance your ability to identify and avoid obstacles. It will also make you visible to oncoming traffic. The NiteRider Storm HID System at left is one of many good models. See more NiteRider lights. Some online retailers, such as BikeWorld, also offer lights.
Wear reflective clothing at night so people can see you. There's lots of this clothing on the market, and it all helps greatly with improved visibility. The Illuminite brand is made by Reflec USA Corp. (Photo and annotations by Tom Keane.) Performance Bike is one of the retailers that carries Illuminite products.
PolyBrite International makes vests, belts, and arm and ankle bands that not only reflect light, but generate it, too.
Also, wear reflective stickers/tape/strips on skates and helmets. The ICB made 6,000 reflective stickers in 1997—they came in three colors (white, yellow, and pink) and three styles: the ICB logo, "Don't be a vegetable," and "Share the Path."
(11/9/1999) I purchased my 15 watt Turbocat at Belmont Wheelworks some years ago. It attaches to my helmet and does blind people/drivers if I look up towards them. A relatively small battery pack fits into the side pocket of my water bottle holder (with the help of some tape). I charge it overnight and recall the light lasts for 6 hours though frankly I've never used it to the point of it fading. I've had it for years and haven't had any problems. It provides all the illumination I've needed on a bike or skates plus some. I can't recommend a light enough.Sara Bolton
(11/9/1999) I have a 15 watt Vistalite and am happy with it. I need a fanny pack to carry the battery, but I also want to carry water so I have a fanny pack with two bottle holders in it - one for the battery, one for the fluids.
I would advise you to make sure there is a method to attach the light to your helmet (if that is where you want it to be). Most lights are made for bikes, so not all of them include helmet attachments. You can also attach it to your wrist and use it to point, but I prefer the helmet, since the light is always pointing where I am looking. The disadvantage is that when you turn to talk to someone, you may blast them in their dark-adapted eyeballs.
I would also advise at least 10 watts of power. The 15 watt light I have is what I like, but when skating at a good clip, you want to be able to see a substantial distance in front of you. 15 Watts is good for this.
The battery I have lasts about 2+ hours, and takes 8 hours to charge. I got mine at Belmont Wheelworks.Kevin Donohoe
(11/8/1999) The one I have is the Digital HeadTrip and I am very happy but that's not to say that other models wouldn't be equally useful.
The Digital HeadTrip has:
(11/1998) I have experimented with lighting systems for skating at night for years. By far the most reliable, easy-to-use and durable solution that I have found is an off-the-shelf 12 V NiteRider lighting system with a digital control unit. I have an XCL-Pro. The Digital Pro-12 should be similar. AFAIK both have been discontinued and replaced with the Digital Pro-12 Extreme which should work even better. All other systems including lower-end NiteRider systems and home-built systems fail to meet my needs.
My XCL-Pro will run reliably for 60 minutes at its 20 watt setting. Sometimes I set it to 12 watts while waiting at red lights to save the battery. I usually set it to its 32 watt maximum setting temporarily for fast descents and other difficult situations. I do not skate much longer than 60 minutes at a time at night. If I did I would use the 12 watt setting more to achieve sufficient battery runtime.
I regularly skate with cyclists at night. Usually I have a better lighting system than any of them :-).
The disadvantage of these systems is that they cost over $300.Uwe Brockmann
(11/10/1999) The Empire (Skate Club of NY City) also highly recommends blinkies, reflective clothing and other reflective items and lights on our night skates. We give away various reflective stickers to participants. Members wear blinkies, reflective clothing, reflective stickers, vests, slashes, reflective "tape," and numerous other types of lighted or reflective items. Dayglow, or light, bright clothing also helps with night visibility of skaters to vehicles, pedestrians and others.
The blinkie I personally love is the Vista Light model Quark VL200ab. I've had a few of them. They are small enough to put two on my helmet. They are also quite visible and run forever before needing battery replacement. They are also easily detachable for use with the built-in clip elsewhere such as on a belt, waist pouch, pack, jacket, etcetera. With the stretch strap they can also be wrapped around an arm, leg or bicycle seat post. I have also used and given away various other blinkies made by different companies or custom made. Some of these are less expensive and still quite adequate for the job.
BTW, check out the frame lights put out by a couple of companies, including StreetGlow. They are helpful, but should be considered supplemental lights and not primary because they are not as visible as blinkies. But, under the right circumstances, such as striding without vehicles, etcetera blocking a view of the skater, they have a dynamic, quite noticeable effect. StreetGlow lights are also infamous for breakage of the wire going from the battery to the neon light. This has happened to me a few times, as well as to many others I know.Leo LozadaEmpire Skate Club, Central Park Skate Patrol