• Flashing Bike Lights too Bright and Dangerous?

    Coastview Classic and American Car Show-bright-bike-light-night.jpgCycling lights have become brighter over time, and its a good idea in some respects as cyclists need to be seen. Is there a limit to brightness? Are they allowed to be flashing? Well up will 2005 you were only allowed a flashing light on your person, and had to be a fixed light on the bike. Due to the efficiency of flashing lights the law was relaxed and you could then have flashing lights fitted to your bike.

    From a vehicles point of view seeing an extremely bright flashing red light in front of you, a similar brightness to a fog light on a vehicle. Can you judge how far it is in front of you? it is very difficult when one moment this flashing red light burns your retina, then the light goes off, letting your eye recover, then pow it hits you again. Now if you are approaching a bike with a non flashing light, you can judge how far away it is and pass the bike safely.

    Whilst your typical bike light is outputting around 20 Lumens of light it’s easily possible to get hold of lights that emit 1,200 or more. Needless to say this is often overkill for road use. They should be kept for forest exploration away from vehicles on the road. For off-road you do want a nice bright light to light up the track and and one at head height in case you're riding through a wooded area. For roads its a different matter, road lights have a beam pattern designed specifically for road use. For example a letterbox or wedge shaped beam pattern can provide light to the road and not into the eyes of approaching motorists.

    Regarding the legal aspect, the UK government road vehicle lighting regulations is a long read, but in Summary "Any light fitted to a bicycle must not cause undue dazzle or discomfort to other users of the road. I have no idea if anyone’s ever been charged with having a bike light that’s too dazzling but I sure it is only a matter of time before it happens.

    What is your view on extreme bright cycle lights? Have you had an encounter?
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. sarah's Avatar
      sarah -
      I hate them, they really p*ss me off. You can't see them properly and they are always too bright.........makes me want to aim at them!!!

      PS. I enjoy cycling, so not a total cyclist hater lol.
    1. AmericanThunder's Avatar
      AmericanThunder -
      Given the brightness of modern LED lights vs incandescent lights it seems silly that they aren't subject to the same laws as other road users. Inparticular, height and aim. I also agree that a flashing light should only be used in addition to a fixed light beam, not on its own.
      The trouble is that if you enforce this then what about other saftey aspects of the bicycle, tyres and brakes etc?
      Should bicycles have an MOT where the legality of these things are checked annually just like a car? And of course, as a user of the road subject to the same safety checks as other motorised vehicles should they then be forced to have at least 3rd party insurance?
      Its a can of worms!
    1. an88fiero's Avatar
      an88fiero -
      I'm only a commuter cyclist and I hate them too.

      My front and rear lights are static however I have a flashing red light on my rucksack!

      I'm amazed at the brightness of some cyclists I encounter on my cycle home - some are way too bright!