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Why do I need bike lights?

Simple answer - it's the law!

Our recent campaign, Shining Example, is all about keeping cyclists safe in the dark. The law states that cyclists on public roads must use a white front light, a red rear light (both fixed to the bike), a rear red reflectors and amber reflectors on the front and rear of the pedals. They must be used between the hours of sunset and sunrise, even if it is still light. We've created a video that shows why bike lights are so important (and a legal requirement).

If you use flashing lights, they must flash no faster or slower than one to four times per second (60-240 times per minute).

To keep you seen and safe.

We know from research that the most dangerous hours for cyclists are 7-9am and 3-7pm on weekdays, when lights is poor and traffic is often heaviest, so it’s a matter of common sense to switch on and light up your ride.

It’s not just a question of being able to see where you’re going – you must make sure you can be seen by other road users as well. Road traffic accident statistics show at 53% of drivers involved in an incident involving a cyclist at didn’t see the rider properly. Using lights can only improve cyclists’ visibility during darker periods.

Remain visible

What to consider

Bike lights come in all shapes and sizes, and each type of light has its pros and cons. The type of light you need will depend on how and where you ride your bike. A quick internet search will bring up countless providers and reviews of lights available to buy on the market, but where do you start deciding what type of lights is best for you?

For most cyclists, the question is either do you need to see or be seen with your bike lights?

What is the ambient lighting?

Are you in well-lit urban areas or more rural roads? Are you cycling amongst lots of traffic or in remote areas will few other vehicles? Do you need to be seen from the side as well as the front or from behind?

What are the road surfaces like?

Will you be negotiating lumps, bumps and dips in your way, or will you be cruising along a smooth cycle path?

How often will you be using your lights?

For everyday cyclists, a long lasting or rechargeable battery might be best to avoid losing power mid-ride.

How much do you want to spend?

Prices can be range from a few pounds to well into three figures, but most lights at the lower end of the scale will provide you with the visibility you need to see and be seen.

How bright do you need your lights to be?

The amount of light put out by lights is often measured in lumens and the higher the number, the brighter the light. Anything over 200 lumens will cast a beam on the road, which is handy if you are cycling over rougher ground.

What features do you need or want?

Whether you are needing a simple flashing mode, or Bluetooth connectivity and an app, there is a light for you. Manufacturers are constantly developing their products and finding new ways to make bike lights safer, more efficient and so much more than just a light.

Take the See Sense Ace bike lights that we’re giving away with our Shining Example campaign, for example. These innovative lights have been created to provide cyclists the illumination and connectivity they need for their everyday journeys. They have been designed to be highly visible not just at night but during the day too, perfect for during the grey days of winter. At night, they are visible from over a mile away and give you 200° of side visibility on your ride.

The engineering doesn’t stop there. They are designed to flash faster and brighter as you approach junctions and roundabouts and when you’re filtering through traffic, making drivers even more aware of your position.

By integrating Bluetooth technology, your lights will connect with a smart phone app to give you low-battery and theft alerts, send crash notifications to an emergency contact along with a location map, and you can control and customise the brightness and flash patterns of the lights, according to your preferences. Plus, your app will collate data about your road surface during your ride that you can then send to your local authority’s highway department, for which they will be highly grateful!

Disposable vs rechargeable lights

Disposable battery operated – Open the packet, insert the battery and off you go. These lights are easy to buy, often cheaply, with no fuss, no cables and few or no exciting features. A steady light mode, maybe with one or two flashing modes with different speeds, they will keep you legal and will usually fit most bikes.

The downside – batteries don’t last for ever and depending on the size, you could find yourself in darkness and riding illegally by the end of your ride. If you’re using disposable battery lights, you’d be wise to carry replacement batteries, just in case you’re caught short.

Rechargeable lights - These lights are operated by the type of battery you might find in your mobile phone – small, light and easy to recharge with a USB cable. They may be slightly more expensive to buy, but not having to buy additional batteries every few weeks will see you better-off in the long run.

Many people keep a set of small disposable lights as a back-up in case their main lights run out of the charge en-route.

Recharge your batteries

For more info about the rules and regulations about using bike lights, visit Cycling UK’s updated guide.


By Georgina at 31 Oct 2018, 15:03 PM


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