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bike
oncoming traffic
peripheral vision
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cyclists
helmet
mirror
Is Ever A Bike Too Well Lit?
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Just how much lighting should you have on your bike at night or in poor light conditions? I ask the question because the law if it even bothers to police it at all, seems to suggest that anything from a minimal glow up is okay. Cars are subject to endless safety parameters yet cyclists who share the road and hazards are subject to relatively few rules. I speak as a leisure (but enthusiastic) cyclist.

I take the view that you have to compete to be visible and to do that, you will need excellent lights – positioned correctly, and if necessary more than one set.  Why not?

Here’s my thinking on this. Two front lights should be the minimum. 1. A front light fitted on the bars to illuminate the road ahead and to make you visible to oncoming traffic. 2. A head lamp that fits over your helmet, and shines in the direction you are looking.

This is helpful when cornering and illuminating areas slightly off centre from your line of travel, allowing you to check the surface before committing to a change of direction.  When cycling along beside a line of parked cars one of which may be occupied with the driver about to inadvertently open his door in your path. Firstly, he has a better chance of seeing you in his mirror if you are illuminated at more than one level. Secondly, as you approach you have a better chance of seeing an occupied car ahead and can be prepared therefore to take action if required.

I would also recommend two rear lights again at different heights and if you like one flashing and one constant. (I personally see no merit in flashing mode other than to save battery power. As a car driver, I believe a constant light is more likely to be picked up by peripheral vision than a blinking light but I realise many will disagree). 1. At least one light should be visible from the side as well as the rear. 2. The other could be attached to clothing this being the most obvious way to provide an alternative level to one fitted on the seat post for example.

In addition to these, there are now fibre optic lights in the form of tubes that can be fitted to the tubes of the frame. These are available in a variety of colours – white, blue green and yellow and are intended to make your bike visible from the side or from oblique angles. There is also red of course to be fitted to the rear of your bike, panniers, seat stays or clothing. These will not illuminate an extended area of road but should make you more visible to other road users. As such they are best suited for use along with the best conventional bike light you can afford rather than on their own.

In conclusion, although there are few hard and fast rules, common sense tells us that less is NOT more in this case but the answer is probably best provided not by cyclists but by other road users and their experience of how effective or otherwise cycle lights are.  


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