Commuting 101: Save Your Night Vision

Earlier this summer my buddy John, my son Peter and I (along with around 1,000 other cyclists) took part in the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride. The coolest part of the 12 mile run was the 2 miles we spent riding through some industrial caves. As you can see, the caves are well lit.

Riding the caves

Once you left the caves, there were a few lights, but some long stretches where there were no lights except the ones you’re sporting.


As we were coming to the end of the cave run, I mentioned a tip that neither John or Peter had heard before; it’s an old trick artillery gunners use which I first read about in a Tom Clancy novel long, long ago (1986): Close one eye. Yep, it’s as simple as that. When you’re in the light and headed for the dark, close one eye for a half minute — once you get to the dark spot, open that eye and you’ll have your night vision and will be able to see that pedestrian or the patch of loose gravel. I use this trick every day when I’m getting ready to ride under an overpass or through a tunnel. Give it a try next time you’re headed for that shadowy, gloomy spot.

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0 thoughts on “Commuting 101: Save Your Night Vision”

  1. wolfy says:

    I don’t want to sound like a douche here, but that seems like pretty bad advice. We have two eyes for a reason. I don’t want to loose my stereo vision while I’m riding, and I sure as s$%t don’t want some mooyak in a car coming up behind me with no visual cues as to his speed or proximity to me.


  2. sygyzy says:

    Wolfy beat me to the punch. With one eye closed you lose depth perception.

  3. ny rider says:

    Wolfy, you really should have stopped halfway through your first sentence.

  4. Warren T says:

    I’ll admit I debated mentioning depth perception (I even had an extremely entertaining reference of Leela from Futurama lined up).

    There are some trade offs here, but the truth is, I’ll sacrifice the depth perception for a few moments to not be flying blind in the dark. Common sense is the key — if you’re in traffic keep both eyes open, once you get engulfed in darkness, try to find a safe spot to wait for your night vision to come back. If you know you’ll be in the clear, give it a try and prep for the “difference between night and day.”

    If you don’t think you’ll be comfortable doing this, you can always practice in a nice open space. I’ve been practicing track stands in a parking lot on the way to my Dad’s on Sunday afternoons. Sure, I get some weird looks every now and then — but I will soon be able to amaze my friends and neighbors.

  5. Dwainedibbly says:

    That’s why pirates wore eye patches. Keep the patch down while raiding above deck, then, when you jump into the hold, flip the patch up and you have instant night vision.

  6. dr awkward says:

    Binocular vision is the least important cue of many that you have for depth-perception. The important reason to have two eyes is in case one meets a sharp stick.

  7. Kaz Kougar says:

    Sharp stick? Isn’t that what riding glasses are for? I can’t tell you how many times this summer a bug has nailed me in the face just a few inches below the eye. After that I can’t imagine what a rock from a car tire or a “sharp stick” would feel like. Now what’s that word for not riding with eye protection? …Oh ya, foolish! This should be applied to those riding with one eye or two and I think that Warren T’s advice is good advice and has been taken a little out of context by most here.

  8. Fritz says:

    I thought about depth perception too on the first read of the article, but in reality you’re flying blind anyway if you don’t have your night vision. Riding a few seconds with an eye closed isn’t going to send me into the ditch or another cyclist. Your brain is capable of maintaining depth perception with one eye just from your movement through space.

  9. Warren T says:

    First, I just want to say I appreciate all the comments. I decided to go all Mythbusters on my way home tonight and even though I had plenty of light I closed an eye at a spot that I would have never thought of closing an eye before.

    This bridge is 4 feet wide and my handle bars are just over 2 feet wide. May I say that I did sneak a peek a couple times but made it across with no problems. Granted, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling AT ALL — but I made it. So once again, I’m just saying it is something worth trying IF you are at a point in your ride that it makes sense.

    Let’s call this one “Plausible.”

  10. Warren T says:

    And here is the link:

    Thought it would work… So much for my wicked, mad, ninja html skilz

  11. says:

    Links Of The Day: 29 August 2007…

    From The Bike-O-Sphere

    One of those days”
    Color Me Nauseous: Cycling’s Worst Paint Jobs
    Three links you won’t want to miss
    Commuting 101: Save Your Night Vision
    Flower Box
    Where Would You Go? What Would You Carry?
    Morning madness and …

  12. Quinn says:

    Easier solution than closing one eye, Low mount your lights (under the bar, on the drop, on the steer tube, on the fork blades) and cover all non forward facing light, lenses.

    closing your eye only works for a short time, until your body adjusts.

  13. larry says:

    wtf are you worried about depth perception for? if you need it just open your freaking eye you moron, lol.

  14. Jim says:

    Nice to see so many “opinions” with no truth to back them up. Closing an eye does NOT cause you to lose depth perception! Your brain continues to process visual cues from the other eye – it takes WEEKS of monocular vision for your brain to “forget” depth clues!

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