AS more commuters ride bikes, more cyclists put themselves in danger. Should riding across the Williamsburg Bridge at night really be a deadly adventure sport? From 2007 to 2008, the New York City Department of Transportation recorded a 35 percent increase in the number of commuter cyclists, and an observational study released by Hunter College last fall found that the majority of city riders don’t obey safety rules.
While state law requires the use of white headlights and red taillights when riding between dusk and dawn, 45 percent of cycling fatalities in New York City still occur during low-light hours, according to Transportation Department statistics.
“It’s great that the number of cyclists in New York City has doubled over the past six years,” Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said. “Since we have more riders on the street, it’s even more important that they share the roads, stay safe and be seen.”
Today, commuter cyclists have just as many options in bike lights as they do avenues down which to careen and curve—potentially unseen. But not every bike light is built to survive city riding, and if you intend to remove the flashers every time you slip into the office or stop for coffee, be forewarned that bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to convenience. Hugo Giron, a New York City courier and the founder of the Brooklyn-based bike-messenger service Snap Delivery, tested five sets of headlights and taillights during his 6 p.m. to midnight shifts. By SARAH TOLAND