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British Cycling: Riding in the dark

British Cycling: Riding in the dark

As the days get shorter, whether you’re commuting or trying to fit in some training before or after work, it’s likely that you’ll be riding in low light conditions or the dark. Make sure you stay visible and safe on your bike by following these tips.

The law

If you’re riding on public roads in the hours of darkness, you’re legally obliged to have lights and reflectors. You need a white front light that, since 2005, can be flashing and a rear red light that’s also allowed to flash. The front light should also have 110 degree visibility.

You’re also obliged by the law to have a rear red reflector, in addition to the light, and it is also a requirement to have BS6102/2 or equivalent amber reflectors to the front and rear of each pedal, although many modern clipless pedals are unable to fit reflectors.

Lights on your bike

Don’t just comply with the minimum legal requirements. Especially regarding rear red lights, the more you can have the better. Your front light serves two purposes, to get you seen by on-coming traffic and, on unlit roads, to light up the road ahead. It can therefore make sense to opt for two front lights, one flashing to get you seen and another with a more powerful constant beam to see with. For more advice on buying lights, look here.

Lights on your body

You don’t have to stop with lights on your bike. If you’re riding unlit lanes, take a tip from mountain bikers and try a helmet mounted light in addition to one on your bars. Being able to see where you’re looking, not just where your bars are pointing is a revelation. Moving lights are especially visible so, with clip-on LED’s, your ankles are a brilliant location. Just make sure that any rear facing lights are red and front facing are white.

Don't dazzle

With LED technology now allowing the production of affordable bike lights that can easily produce 1000 lumens or more, dazzling oncoming traffic is a genuine concern. If you’re using a powerful light, make sure it’s angled sufficiently down towards the road and that, if you’re able to do so safely, dip it to a lower power if there’s oncoming traffic. If you’re using a helmet mounted light be especially aware of this and avoid looking directly towards on-coming traffic. Angle your powerful light down at the road and have a less powerful flashing light to be seen by.

For more tips on riding in the dark including, clothing, side visibility, position in the road and more, head over to the British Cycling Insight Zone

For more types of mudguard to help commute-proof your bike, head over to the British Cycling Insight Zone

Want more advice like this? The British Cycling Insight Zone is full of comprehensive cycling advice and know-how from British Cycling’s experts, to help you improve your riding. The Insight Zone is available at

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