Re: Bicycle lights


Tim Woodall

Well nobody seems to have given a proper legal response so I'll try
although I don't know the law in detail. (You might get a better
response in uk.rec.cycling - crossposted)

On Sat, 17 Nov 2007 13:37:56 -0000,
(not quite so) Fat Sam <[email protected]> wrote:
> I know it's a legal requirement to have front and rear lights on a bike if
> you're going to ride it on a road, but I started wondering the other day
> when I was shopping for new bike lights about what would be considered
> acceptable and what unacceptable.

It's all changed recently but until then it was max 3W at the front so
you don't blind the cagers (extra lights were allowed but had to be
turned off). That's why you can't buy dynamo systems that give more than
3W (6V at 500mA)

> I believe you must display a solid red light at the rear - a flashing one is
> insuficient, but can be used in conjunction with a solid light.
> I believe you also must display a solid white light at the front - again a
> flashing one is insuficient, but can be used in conjunction with a solid
> one.

Not any more. A flashing light is legal provided it doesn't also have a
steady mode (and it meets the relevant BS or european equivalent -
usually you'll do best looking for lights that meet the German standard)

You can also use a flashing light if it has a steady mode provided you
also have a fixed light. (For dynamo lighting the usual is 2.4W front
plus 0.6W rear - non flashing)

> Now, would I be breaking the law if I was to replace the front solid white
> light with a headband torch?

Yes. because the light has to point forwards. There are specific
exceptions for lights mounted on the handlebars that obviously won't
point forwards while you are turning.

I think you'll be quite safe legally using a head torch well as an
appropriate 2.4W BS front light. Infact, when flashing lights were
illegal a popular choice was for cyclists to wear the flashing light and
just have the road legal light on their bike.

> In addition to this, in an effort to be more visible at night, and to try to
> stay alive while riding along the mad dangerous A47, I bought a set of
> replacement dust-caps whhich have red LED's in them and a motion sensor.
> When the wheels turn, the leds light up creating a very eye catching and
> highly visible light effect.

I can't remember the details but I'm pretty sure you must not emit a red
light to the front. I suspect that if they are on the front wheel then
when you are turning the light will be visible from the front.

Unless you are riding a bike made before October 1985 (whatever that
means - I've got a bike where only the frame and forks are left from
prior to that date) you also need pedal reflectors visible to the front
and rear. (and if you are one of these people who cycle with their
instep and have a heel on the shoe then they won't be visible from the
rear anyway and nobody knows what the situation is with recumbents - one
can only assume that the regulations mean visible when noone is on the
bike. Clipless pedals were invented in the early 1980's IIRC. If the law
with cars was as slow at keeping up as the law regarding bicycles it
would still be illegal to have more than a few pints of petrol in the


God said, "div D = rho, div B = 0, curl E = - @B/@t, curl H = J + @D/@t,"
and there was light.