Nighttime is my all-time favorite time to bike, hands down. Everything seems to slow down a bit and the longer periods of darkness that come with colder weather can throw any city's lights into even deeper relief. Of course, visibility is one of the biggest safety concerns cyclist have at night.
To be sure I'm as visible as possible, I have a blazing bright taillight and a knog headlight (< $15 on Amazon) that packs a pretty mean punch for being so small.
Streetlights also play a huge role in guiding me home each night, and I've come to rely on them to see any approaching obstacles—human and nonhuman, alike.
A couple months ago, I started to notice several dead lights along a very important bridge I cross to get home in the evening. It's a narrow lane and pedestrians and cyclists rarely stick to their designated paths, so lights are crucial to spot any walkers and joggers along the way.
I came thisclose to flattening at least two people over the course of a week due to poor visibility and, still, there was no sign the Department of Transportation was going to repair the lights.
But I remembered hearing from a cyclist friend that NYC's 311 iPhone app had a form for reporting unsafe road conditions. I figured it'd be worth a shot, so I pulled over right on the bridge one night to give it a try.
And guess what: It actually worked. Two weeks later, the lights were repaired.
Not every city has a 311 app available for smartphones (Here's one for Boston, for example), but a quick Google search for "your city + 311 + app" should turn it up.
Here's how it works:
I never heard anything after that confirmation message, but actions speak louder than words right?
I'm happy the best part of my commute home each night is a disaster zone no longer.
Safe riding to you all!