Bicycle Lighting Requirements – How to Stay Legal at Night
With the evenings still dark, it might not seem like perfect cycling weather. However, if you do need to be out on your bike, how can you make sure you have the right lights fitted?
What’s the Law?
The law regarding cycle lighting is regulated by the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations. The details of this have been amended a few times, so the rules can appear confusing. It’s against the law to ride a bike on a public road in the dark without adequate lights or reflectors. After-dark is defined as the times between sunset and sunrise. The minimum lights that need to be fitted are a white front and red rear light, amber pedal reflectors and a red rear reflector. These should conform to the required safety standards.
It’s also advisable to have white front reflectors and spoke reflectors fitted. This ensures you can be seen well by other road users. However, as far as the law is concerned you can include any additional lights or reflectors. When doing so you must ensure you don’t fit any red lights or reflectors to the front or white lights or reflectors to the rear.
There’s also a substantial amount of confusion regarding the use of flashing lights on bikes. Basically, flashing lights are permitted on cycles. It’s sensible to use static front lights in areas with no street lights, as this makes you more visible to others and doesn’t distract drivers.
When cycling at night, it’s prudent to make yourself easily seen. This can involve wearing reflective clothing or bands on your arms or ankles. It’s also safer to wear some form of fluorescent clothing during the day or in bad light conditions. For further information on safer cycling, search online for sites such as http://www.cyclaim.co.uk/.
What Lights Do You Need?
When buying lights for a cycle, the conditions they will be used in will determine how many and the quality of products purchased. There is a huge range of lights available, from budget brands to more expensive models. Will you be using it heavily in the evening or is it just to pop to the shops? What types of areas will you be riding in — well-lit towns or off-road? How long will the light need to last for? If you have a long commute it’ll need to last the distance. Will you be riding come rain or shine?
What Are the Penalties?
It’s very rare for cyclists to be prosecuted, but there are penalties in force. A Fixed Penalty Notice will carry a fine of £30, whereas if the police choose to prosecute, you could be facing a fine of up to £1,000. Regardless of the likelihood of being fined, you could be seriously injured or seen as negligent in an accident if you have inadequate lighting. Before setting off on each journey, make sure you check your lights. It’s just not worth the risk.
James Greenwood has been writing on cycling for a range of specialist websites and printed publications for almost 20 years. To keep up to date with the latest regulations, he uses sites such as http://www.cyclaim.co.uk/.