Bike Lighting Regulations - BE SAFE and SEEN!

An incredible number of people have started riding bicycles in the last few years, but so many of them have no idea about road safety, bike maintenance and the Highway Code - to name but a few gaps in their knowledge!

This is an introduction to being safe and seen on the roads at night.

Lighting Regulations

How do I ensure my bike is road legal at night?

The issue of the legality of bike lights.

White front light, red rear light: that ticks the legal boxes for riding in the dark, right? Wrong. While you’re unlikely to be stopped by the police, it’s not enough to comply with the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations. If you were involved in an incident on the road on a non-compliant bike, you might be deemed partly at fault. To avoid that possibility, you need the right lights and reflectors.

Let’s start with reflectors. Between dusk and dawn, your bike must be fitted with a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors, which must conform to BS6102/2.
A red rear reflector is easy: new bikes come with them, and one can easily be added to a seat-post, rear rack, or mudguard. Some lights incorporate them too. Pedal reflectors can be fitted to most flat pedals and many come with them. Clipless pedals seldom have or accept reflectors. There are some exceptions or you may be able to fit clipless pedal reflector adapters.

Lights are more complicated. There’s a difference between lights that are legal and lights that are approved. A light is legal to use as additional illumination if it’s the right colour and doesn’t dazzle. But you must also have front and rear lights that are approved, which means conforming to BS6102/3 or “a corresponding standard of another EC country”. Oddly, it’s easier to find battery lights that meet German standards – they’ll be listed as meeting StVZO – than it is to find battery lights meeting BS6102/3.
Approved dynamo lights are easy to find, since such lights generally do meet German standards. Bicycles aren’t obliged to show lights when they’re stopped, incidentally, although most modern dynamo lights do have a standlight function that keeps them shining for a while when stationary.

Flashing lights
Flashing lights are permitted on cycles so long as they’re the right colour. Some flashing lights are okay to use as your only lights even if they don’t meet BS6102/3 or StVZO.

  • Firstly, they must only flash. If there’s a steady mode, even if you don’t use it, the light must meet BS6102/3 or StVZO. (Note that most flashing lights do have a steady mode.)
  • Secondly, they must flash one to four times per second.
  • Thirdly, they must emit at least four candela. One candela is about 12.5 lumens, so that’s 50 lumens. Many flashing front lights will meet this stipulation but that’s unusually bright for a flashing rear light.
 Thank-you to: Cycle magazine Editor, Dan Joyce, Friday, 2 October 2020