Cycling at night – do you know the law?

We all accept that we need some kind of cultural shift in how 4 wheeled road users view other forms of transport, such as cyclists, in order to prevent more accidents happening. Cyclists are vulnerable by virtue of the fact they are not protected by airbags and metal and no matter how many proficiency courses they go on, hi vis jackets they wear or careful cycling they do, they can still be dismounted by other road users who didn’t see them.  Until there is a change in attitudes on our roads, cyclist will continue to be at risk and will continue to try and reduce the risks of collision. 

Visibility is key at this time of year whether you ride in the day or night. Poor weather conditions make visibility bad and so it is more important than ever to not give motorists the excuse that they didn’t see you.  Many commuters have to ride at night or early morning when the skies are still dark.

The legal requirement for cycling at night requires you to have front and rear lights as well as front and rear reflectors and there are also requirements for the lights to be placed in specific places. The rear light must be higher than 35 cm from the road but not higher than 1.5 metres as this is out of the eye line of most motorists.  The ideal place to position your rear light is just below the saddle on the stem (not obscured by clothing or bag) and just below the handlebars for the front lights with the same distances from the road.

This sounds fairly straightforward but they also recommend lights should be no less than 20 lumens. Safety experts recommend the stronger the light the better. A stronger light is more likely to highlight road debris and potholes at a distance allowing the cyclist more time to manoeuvre to avoid the hazard. Cycling on urban lit roads presents different problems as they are often well lit.  It is recommended that cyclists need even brighter lights to compete with other car headlights and street lamps, not for the purposes of seeing the road, but to be seen clearly by other road users.

Some cyclists prefer to use flashing lights to draw attention to themselves but there have been arguments to say that static lights are more beneficial to motorists when judging speed and distance.  The decision is up to you, but whatever you do, reduce the risk of collision by being easily seen.


If you or a loved one has been involved in a road traffic accident and you believe the fault is with the other road user then call us now on 01625 506 672 for an informal chat with one of our specialist cycle accident solicitors.

We are experts in accidents involving cyclists and can talk you through your cycling compensation claim.