Using a phone as a front light

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
thirdcrank
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby thirdcrank » 13 Dec 2020, 3:05pm

Looking back at the OP the thing we all seem to have missed is the final sentence which appears to be a request for clarification of the law on bike lamps.

I'll start this off by saying you need a BS red light at the back so a typical phone might not begin to comply. Once upon a time, the only requirement for the front was something along the lines that it had to be visible from a reasonable distance - very subjective - so any old light would do.

That was followed by a requirement for front and back having to be BS marked. The change allowing flashing bike lamps introduced some waggle room and without looking at the details, I can't remember if a compliant flashing phone would be ok. If somewhere like Germany has authorised to use a handy (AFAIK Handy = mobile [phone] in German) that may or may not be a loophole.

Incidentally, the big difference between parachutes and bike lamps is that you can only be confident of managing without the former if you are certain you will never have to jump from a plane in the air. Riding a bike without lights and getting away with it is easy-peasy.

Jdsk
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Jdsk » 13 Dec 2020, 3:09pm


Brucey
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Brucey » 13 Dec 2020, 3:42pm

thirdcrank wrote:... without looking at the details, I can't remember if a compliant flashing phone would be ok....


from memory, the requirements are twofold;

1) that there is at least 4 lumens output (easy peasy)
2) that the flashing rate falls between two values.

There is no requirement for a flashing light to be marked in any way. There are, I think, some weasel words to the effect that any flashing light cannot also have a steady mode, but since all flashing LEDs on sale/ in use also have a steady mode and no-one gets pulled for it, that isn't something that should be of concern.

I took it as read that a phone set to flashing light mode would meet the requirements for a front bike light, unless someone knows different?

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Mr Tom
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby Mr Tom » 17 Dec 2020, 8:17pm

rmurphy195 wrote:Better than nowt in an emergency, but given the battry life of modern phones I sgouldn't think it would stay alight very long. Additionally, I'd be concered about what such use would be doing to the screen! Assuming you are talking about illuminating the screen of course, rather than using the built-in flash unit whcih I suspect wouldn't be a very good option.


This was using the flash actually, although I thought afterwards the screen might be a possibility too. I can't really say how long it would last, it got me home on a 25 minute ride, but my phone battery is pretty knackered these days, so not really sure what to compare it to.

thirdcrank
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Dec 2020, 10:01pm

For anybody trying to discover whether a mobile phone can satisfy the lighting regulations, one problem is that those regulations have not been updated with amendments.

The HC refers readers to The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 Regulation 18

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/198 ... on/18/made

Even after some 30 years, that online version is still "Original (As made)"

The amending regs which allowed flashing bike lights are The Road Vehicles Lighting (Amendment) Regulations 2005

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/2559/made

These are in the usual format of statutory instruments which amend another: ie they prescribe text to be inserted in or deleted from the original enactment. (Not unlike a cryptic crossword or similar.)

Anybody without the time or inclination for riddles can only depend on government advice and here's the relevant bit:

If either of the (mandatory) lights is capable of emitting a steady light, then it must conform to BS 61023 and be marked accordingly, even if used in flashing mode.

Purely flashing lights are not required to conform to BS61023, but the flash rate must be between 60 and 240 equal flashes per minute (1 to 4 per second) and the luminous intensity must be at least 4 candela. (This should be advised by the manufacturer). The pedal reflectors and rear reflector must conform to BS 61022.

Lights and reflectors not conforming to the BS, but conforming to a corresponding standard of another EC country and marked accordingly, are considered to comply as long as that standard provides an equivalent level of safety.


https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... s-lighting

Older readers may remember that an earlier version of this guidance in relation to lights on pedal cycles in "daytime" was wrong and was only reissued with the correct guidance with bad grace after a long (more than a year?) correspondence from me.

AIUI, to be street legal, the torch app on a mobile would have to be marked with the BS or a similar EC one. I'm assuming that even if it were to be used in flashing mode, it would be capable of emitting a steady light.

This is my penance for being described as smug. I hope it adds a little light in this dark area.
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PS Nothing to do with phones used as lights, here's something I prepared earlier about the government's dodgy guidance on daytime bike lights.

viewtopic.php?p=360980#p360980
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PPS Once upon a time we spent more time on here discussing bike lights. Here's on from a bit earlier than the other, beginning with a suggestion from former member Tonyf33 that bike lights should be compulsory in poor daytime visibility

viewtopic.php?p=268656#p268656

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mjr
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby mjr » 17 Dec 2020, 11:47pm

thirdcrank wrote:Looking back at the OP the thing we all seem to have missed is the final sentence which appears to be a request for clarification of the law on bike lamps.

I covered that back on page one.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

thirdcrank
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby thirdcrank » 18 Dec 2020, 9:09am

mjr wrote:
thirdcrank wrote:Looking back at the OP the thing we all seem to have missed is the final sentence which appears to be a request for clarification of the law on bike lamps.

I covered that back on page one.


Old age on my part I fear. As I looked back through the links to my earlier stuff after I'd done the most recent bit of looking up, I realised too late I'd covered the gist of it back in 2010.

PS I do try to show "my working" with links to the relevant legislation so the markers can check.

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PPS For anybody else with a poor memory, here's the useful link

viewtopic.php?p=1559459#p1559459

jb
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby jb » 18 Dec 2020, 12:13pm

Those early front lights were a genius of a design, no wires, no soldered joints and just a screwed knob to contact the top metal strip - bomb proof. Pity the batteries were so rubbish.
I spent hours polishing the reflector to get more light out of it.
Cheers
J Bro

thirdcrank
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby thirdcrank » 18 Dec 2020, 1:07pm

jb wrote: ... I spent hours polishing the reflector to get more light out of it.


Your experience must extend further back than mine. The first time I tried to polish up a reflector - admittedly on a single-cell back lamp - it all rubbed off. That lamp was was a vast improvement on its predecessor whose "reflector" was painted white and convex, rather than an attempt at a concave parabola.

Phones were different as well. Much too heavy for the handlebars and generally with buttons A and B

jb
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby jb » 18 Dec 2020, 1:50pm

I'm not that old :D the lamp in question was found at the bottom of my grandfathers tool draw. The reflector was chrome plated steel. I seem to remember getting the slightly more modern version one Christmas, it had a plastic switch. They got more use reading comics under the bed sheets than cycling.
Cheers

J Bro

thirdcrank
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Re: Using a phone as a front light

Postby thirdcrank » 18 Dec 2020, 5:20pm

Trapped Cornwall beach walkers found by phone torch lights

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-55362050

They were actually found by the RNLI spotting the phones but a tragedy has been averted and that's what matters.