Lights on a cycle path ?

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Lights on a cycle path ?

Postby Sprocket » 1 Sep 2009, 12:53pm


I am teaching someone this week, who's route will be, for part of the journey, on a cycle lane wich is on the pavement shared with pedestrians The path means that cyclists going in one direction will be facing oncoming drivers i.e. passing nearside to nearside. My question, which I hope you can help me with is; when cycling on such a path, with oncoming traffic, and lights would normally be needed on a road, should they be used on a path ?

My concern is that the cycle lights may confuse oncoming car drivers or even (with some more powerful cycle lights) dazzle the oncoming drivers. Indeed if there is a legal requrement to use lights on a road, is it the same on a cycle lane on a footpath ? I would normally teach to cycle in the road, but the age of the student and the types of road used, means that the cycle lane is by far the safer option. But they will be cycling in the dark.

What are your thoughts.


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Re: Lights on a cycle path ?

Postby EdinburghFixed » 1 Sep 2009, 1:15pm

I think that the same legal requirement exists to be illuminated on the pavement as on the road (but, I am not a lawyer). However there is a very practical reason not to instruct someone to cycle on the pavement without lighting, even if it was legal to do so and there is a theoretical risk of confusing drivers.

Crossing a side road from the pavement is one of the most dangerous of all manoeuvres, because it requires the cyclist to monitor three traffic streams simultaneously and also to make the crossing from a position that none of the drivers will habitually check (doubly so when riding on the pavement on the "wrong side").

To top this off by riding unlit seems to be asking for trouble!

In fact some very interesting research from the continent was posted on one of the other forums recently, showing the risk of accident on a pavement cycling facility, relative to riding along in the road (= 1.0)

You can see that riding across a side-road on the 'wrong side' of a pavement is almost 12x more risky... ouch!

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Re: Lights on a cycle path ?

Postby Wildduck » 2 Sep 2009, 9:30pm

Basic safety issue on a path I use that runs seperate from the road north of Romsey down here in Hampshire. No street lights or white markings on the path. Difficult enough to see the edges with a mediocre cycle light in the dark - pure suicide without a light at all!
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Re: Lights on a cycle path ?

Postby thirdcrank » 2 Sep 2009, 10:34pm


Apart from all the practical things, like needing to be able to see where you are going, you need to comply with the law. My own understanding is that you need the normal bike lights as though you were on a normal road. That's the short answer.

If there's an exam at the end, my understanding is this:

If you have a cycle route on the carriageway it is a cycle lane. Apart from that any other official cycle route will be a cycle track. This applies to cycle tracks within the highway - eg as part of the 'pavement' or across land and therefore separate from a highway, where they are themselves highways. This is all under the Highways Act, 1980. ... 00066_en_1 (if you really want thread to needle s 24(2) allows new highways to be constructed (which includes cycle tracks) and s 65 enables use of the pavement for cycle tracks. S 329 defines a cycle track and a whole lot more.)

Anyway, the Road Traffic Acts ( and I think it's the 1972 Act, which is pre-online system) defines a road as "every highway and bridge over which it passes". The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations, 1989 (made under the Road Traffic Acts) specify what lamps and reflectors are needed when a vehicle (including a pedal cycle ) is used on a road at night.