22 Oct 2007

Lighting up time

light bright bike, originally uploaded by lynnieb.

British Summer Time comes to an end next Saturday, bringing a temporary respite to the darkening mornings but an abrupt change to the evening light. If you commute by bike, chances are you'll need lights next week if you're not already using them.

Highway code Rule 60:

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp

STACC's Top tips for safe cycling in the dark:

Use good lights- bike lighting has come a long way since the bad old days of 'Never Ready' lamps which always seemed to break. As a minimum effective LED lights are small enough to take off the bike when parking and keep in a pocket. Although legal, flashing lights probably shouldn't be used as your only light source, especially on the front. Don't buy the cheapest lights you can find- the cheap, green tinged flashing LEDs are particlarly awful.

Keep a spare set of batteries- batteries always run down at the most inconvenient moment! Keep a spare set of batteries, preferably with you on the bike but at least at home and work.

Wear something reflective- Reflective kit like Sam Browne belt, hi vis jacket, reflective ankle/wrist bands, helmet halo is fairly cheap and very effective. Reflectors on moving bike parts like wheels and pedals are very effective and a small length of reflective tape on your cranks is surprisingly visible in a car's headlights.

Ride where you can be seen. Common sense...position yourself in the road where you can be seen- this means not hugging the gutter and keeping about 3 feet from the kerb.

If you use rechargable lights, carry a backup. Those fancy retina-searing offroad lights are great for winter commuting, but their light will fade very quickly once the batteries run low. It's best to have a small LED as backup.

A lack of lights is no excuse for riding on the pavement- and actually puts you in even more danger since an unlit cyclist joining or crossing the road where a driver isn't expecting to see them is even less visible at night than during the day.


STACC memsec Tom said...

But DO NOT rely on those green 3-LED front 'lights' they are completely useless. They are so dim that the light is completely lost. Their sale ought to be banned (reputable bike shops don't sell them).
If you see them on sale anywhere in St Albans advise us with a comment on this post.

Mike1727 said...

Good point, I'll edit the original post