The question of how to ensure your safety when riding a bicycle on the roads is an important one as cyclists are vulnerable to other people and especially motorists. Ensuring that you and your cycle have maximum visibility will go a long way to minimising the risk of accidents. There are laws governing the use of bicycles with regards to the use of safety equipment particularly. Good, working lights and reflectors must be fitted to all bicycles which are ridden after dark or in poor lighting conditions. So what are the laws regarding bike lights which are arguably the most important of safety paraphernalia. The Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations are very specific when it comes to bike lights and all cycles must have certain lights fitted and working if they are ridden between sunset and sunrise; some weather conditions may make these laws applicable during normal daylight hours too, consider a foggy day when visibility can be reduced to a few feet, rain and drizzle can also make it necessary to use lights during daylight hours. The following will give some idea of the basic and most important points to remember when choosing lighting for your cycle.

Bike lights and the RVLR

The Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 or RVLR have been periodically updated and amended as technology has changed. Ensure that your bike lights adhere to the regulations and stay as safe as possible.

- Front Lamps must be white; they must also be positioned in the centre or offside and no more than 15000mm from the road. Front bike lights must point forwards and if the light has the capacity to flash it must emit at the very least 4 candela. If the front light does not flash it must conform and be marked as conforming to BS6102/3 or the corresponding EC standard.

- Of rear lamps one must be red; it must be centrally placed or offside. Rear lamps should be between 350mm and 15000mm from the road and should be facing behind or visible from behind. If the rear light has the capability of flashing it should emit 4 candela at least. If the rear light does not flash but only emits a steady light then it should conform to BS3648 or BS6102/3 or the EC version of such.

- One rear reflector is required by law; it should be red in colour and marked BS6102/2 and should be placed centrally or offside. The distance from lamp to ground should be from 250mm to 900mm at or close to the rear pointing towards and visible from behind.

- Pedal Reflectors are also required and no less than four. These should be amber in colour and should be marked BS6102/2 or the EC equivalent. Pedal reflectors should be positioned two per pedal and visible from front and rear of each pedal.

Exceptions with regards bike lights and regulations

In the case of older cycles there are exceptions made with bike light regulations. Bicycles made before October 1990 may have any white front light which is visible from a sensible distance and cycles made before October 1985 do not need pedal reflectors. It is however important to consider the value of reflectors and bike lights in general, adhering to regulations will keep you visible and safe.