When you’re out on your bike, you can’t simply reply on the light of day to alert others to your presence. Compared to other road users, you’re a lot harder to see, and visibility during the day isn’t always a given, especially if you blend into your surroundings. Flashing lights on the other hand are a lot harder to miss. Here Leisure Lakes, who stock a range of electric bikes, discuss the importance of wearing visibility lights.
Don’t rely on expectations
It’s easy to say drivers and cyclists should simply ‘pay more attention’. In some part, this holds water, but in other ways, the problem is much deeper than that. An article from Cycling Tips noted that unexpected elements are, by their very nature, processed poorly by humans. When performing a familiar behaviour, people tend to rely mainly on expectations. An unexpected cyclist can therefore go unnoticed.
According to ROSPA’s Road Safety Factsheet, the most dangerous hours statistically for a cyclist are between 08:00-09:00 and 15:00–18:00 during weekdays. And yet, despite the majority of these hours falling during daytime, it is only a legal requirement to wear visibility lights on a bicycle at night.
Furthermore, 80 per cent of cycling accidents happen during daylight hours, and more accidents occur during spring and summer months, even with longer, lighter daytime hours. Though night time cycling accidents are more likely to be fatal, there is certainly a case to be made for having lights on your bike during the day too.
Cycling at night
It is illegal to ride a bike along a public road in the dark without some form of lighting or reflector. The law states that a night-time cyclist needs to have lights and reflectors between sunset and sunrise. However, as previously discussed, it is prudent to have a daytime light as well in order to increase visibility during the day.
The law also notes cyclists don’t need these lights while stationary or pushing a bike along a roadside. But again, in terms of remaining as clear and visible as possible for other road users, it is certainly advised.
Obviously, the lights and reflectors must be in full working condition and free of dirt. Be sure to check them over after every ride.
Rules for different types of visibility lights
According to The Cycling Experts, there are three main types of lights for cyclists to be aware of:
- Head lights are mounted at the front and help you to see ahead, of course. But they also function to help other road users see you.
- Rear lights are on the back on the back and can be set to a steady beam or blinking light. Blinking lights tend to be recommended due to their effect in drawing attention.
- Helmet lights can be fixed to cycle helmets as an optional accessory. They should not be relied upon as the only lighting on your bike ride. They can be useful as the cyclist is able to direct the light quickly.
Different visibility lights and what they’re used for
Cycling UK outlines the necessary placements of reflectors and visibility lights as follows:
|Lights||✔||✔||✘||Front light — minimum of one.
Rear light — one.
|Front light — white.
Rear light — red.
|Front light — centrally or offside to the right of the bike. 1500mm from ground max.
Rear light — centrally or offside to the right of the bike. Between 350–1500mm from ground.
|Front light — conforming to BS6102/3 or EC equivalent.
Rear light — conforming to BS3648, or BS6102/3, or EC equivalent.
|Reflectors||✘||✔||✔||Rear reflector — one.
Pedal reflector — four.
|Rear reflector — red.
Pedal reflector — amber.
|Rear reflector — centrally or off to the right-hand side of the bike. Between 250–900mm from ground.
Pedal reflector — front and back of each pedal.
|Rear reflector — conforming to BS6102/2 or equivalent.
Pedal reflector — conforming to BS6102/2 or equivalent.