Page 1 of 6

Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 26 Nov 2010, 5:28pm
by thirdcrank
A couple of months ago I posted that I had queried with the Department of/for Transport the information they were publishing online about using lights on pedal cycles during the daytime.

I have today received an email from them with a pdf attachment of their new advice ie dated Nov 2010. The relevant bit of advice is:

The only case of exemption from regulations is for cycles when being used between sunrise and sunset, lights or reflectors are not required on cycles used at these times. However it is advisable to fit and use lights and reflectors if cycling in the daytime when visibility is poor, e.g. fog.


The first sentence is an accurate statement of the law as I understood it, and was the reason for my query. (The previous advice treated pedal cycles as motor vehicles.) The second sentence is purely advice, presumably based on common sense. While I'm obviously pleased that they have corrected their advice to conform with the law, I'm not too happy about official advice being smuggled in like this, when it has not been subject to the same consultation processes as the Highway Code - the normal source of road safety advice.
:?: Am I just being picky? :?:
The email I have just received is brief so I'm not clear about the status of the document. I've only posted the relevant bit because the rest appears to be the same as before, but in what is probably a clearer format.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 26 Nov 2010, 6:11pm
by snibgo
The DfT is very free with "common sense" advice to cyclists. For example:

DfT wrote:All children should take cycle training before cycling on the road. ... Your child should always wear a cycle helmet, make sure you wear yours too whenever you are cycling. Your children should always wear fluorescent materials in daylight and dusk and reflective clothing at night. ... Your child's bike should be the right size ... Remember that it's against the law to cycle at night without a white front light, red back light and a red reflector at the back. ... Your child should use special cycle routes, paths and lanes and off road routes where they are provided ... Your child should use cycle racks to park their bike, if one is available. The bike should have a cycle lock and the frame should be be marked with the child's postcode. ... and make sure your children take care when cycling with friends.

(http://www.dft.gov.uk/think/focusareas/ ... areyou_id=)

Personally, I don't like paying taxes for some jobsworth to give me such patronising nannyish advice. But if they must do so, I'm pleased they distinguish legal requirements from opinion.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 26 Nov 2010, 7:45pm
by Big T
There's a propopsal before the Cycling time Trials National AGM to have compulsory flashing rear LED's on cycles competing in time trials. Even at 2.00pm on a sunny saturday afternoon. I don't think it will get through but could this be the thin end of the wedge?

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 27 Nov 2010, 1:04pm
by SilverBadge
Big T wrote:There's a propopsal before the Cycling time Trials National AGM to have compulsory flashing rear LED's on cycles competing in time trials. Even at 2.00pm on a sunny saturday afternoon. I don't think it will get through but could this be the thin end of the wedge?
From CTT National Secretary in response to my enquiry "What is the opinion of CTT's legal representatives regarding the compulsion for rear lights being an acceptance that an unlit rider in daylight is not visible enough? Have the opinions of CTC and British Cycling been sought? If so, what were their reactions? If not, why not?"

"Red light proposals are not new to the agenda and our Solicitors have not advised us against their use when similar objections have been raised and passed on to them for comment.
Other cycling bodies were not consulted on this occasion although we did have dialogue with the CTC when the topic was first raised a number of years ago. Since then the law of land has changed, allowing the use of such devices [flashing lights] on cycles. It is not normal practice to consult with the other bodies on such matters."

Actually the proposed rule form National Committee is merely for a rear light, not even to any standard AFAICS, even though National Committee are firm in the belief that flashing lights are superior.

"The intention of the proposal is to change rider behaviour and improve safety. The type of light used is left up to rider. Those who opt for less effective lights will suffer a reduction in the benefit. As lights are not required by the law of the land during daylight hours, there is no need to specify a standard. The proposal allows for complete flexibilty. The text of the report cites flashing lights as being more effective but the decision would lie with the rider, if the proposal is carried."

And of course the obligatory disclaimer-cum-heartstring-tug

"we will never know on how many occasions a fatal collison has been averted by their use, but surely just one life saved is worth the effort."

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 27 Nov 2010, 1:44pm
by beetroot
:?: Am I just being picky? :?:


Yes

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 27 Nov 2010, 7:38pm
by manybikes
:?: Am I just being picky? :?:
No - the trouble is that "advice" often comes from untested "common sense" feelings held by some member of staff without that member necessarily being a specialist in the subject and without checking the law.
The problem comes when other road users abuse us and tell us we are breaking the law, citing the "advice". If ever you wanted an example it would be riding two abreast. You could be forgiven in believing that the Highway Code explicitly prohibits it in all circumstances from the reactions of some drivers and their passengers, but that the same document does not apply to their actions.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 27 Nov 2010, 10:39pm
by snibgo
I agree, manybikes. If the government must dish out nannyish advice, it needs to ensure it is good advice and not merely someone's whim.

Why should children always wear fluorescent materials in daylight? Why should they use use cycle racks to park their bikes? Why should they take care when cycling with friends, and not otherwise, we assume?

If the answer is "common sense", the government is wasting its time and our money. But if it has evidence that kids are in more danger when cycling with friends or not in fluorescent, it show us the evidence.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 28 Nov 2010, 7:37am
by [XAP]Bob
And of course the obligatory disclaimer-cum-heartstring-tug

"we will never know on how many occasions a fatal collison has been averted by their use, but surely just one life saved is worth the effort."


Not necessarily - or they would be closing all roads used - after all one life saved is worth any amount of effort.

The thin end of the wedge is rarely any significant effort (hence thin). Racing cyclists are likely to grab a super lightweight light just to be allowed to compete. These lights will need virtually zero endurance, and no illumination standard to be met.
However they will instantly become popular as "racing lights".

Lights are not required in daytime running - but good lights are needed at night. If visibility is reduced then a decent rear light setup is sensible.
- Mandating the use of a *very high standard* of both fixed and flashing light for reduced visibility conditions is reasonable.

Any suggestion to mandate a low standard of light is a waste of time an effort - it's equivalent to mandating a lap belt in F1...

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 28 Nov 2010, 8:18am
by thirdcrank
I passed my driving test in the days when the examiner asked three questions at the end of the test. One of mine was why car headlights - rather than only sidelights - should be used in fog. Answer: "In order to be seen." I'd be surprised if British Standard bikelights were much better in this respect than car sidelights. It may be that "Anything is better than nothing" OTOH it may well be that it's not only a waste of time but it may give some riders a false sense of security. I've no doubt that some modern ie non-BS bike lamps would be excellent in this respect. My own Cateye Daylights would be visible at some distance in fog - but the only bike I own on which they are street-legal dates from 1980 ie pre-1985.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 28 Nov 2010, 4:52pm
by Ayesha
My shopping bike has a Sturmey dynohub and the lamps are on all the time. This means I don't have to mess about with batteries for the chip-shop run.
On the other hand, I've been shouted at in the afternoon, "Your lights are on!". Good, you saw them.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 28 Nov 2010, 6:41pm
by reohn2
At this time year when the sun is low and shadows long a lot of drivers wear sunglasses,which, because of the long shadows the shaded areas become much darker than in summer when the sun is higher in the sky.When its murky and mucky and the skies are leaden with low grey blanket cloud and the world can look black and white instead of full of colour.
Forgot to add, when its raining
These are the times when switch on flashing "day" lights it seems logical to me.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 28 Nov 2010, 6:55pm
by thirdcrank
I still think that if cyclists are going to use lights in daytime fog, they need to be effective lights or they are both a waste of time and may lead to a false sense of security. There is a note in the current CTC mag from CJ about how few of the zillion models of lamp sold in the CTC shop comply with the BS. It seems to me that the only way a cyclist could follow the DoT's advice in an effective way would be to use lamps which were not marked with the BS. On that basis, it seems to me that it is impertinent for the DoT to offer 'commonsense' advice when they are largely responsible for the current mess. I'm still chewing over my reply but unless anybody comes up with something I have missed, it will be a diplomatic version of what I have posted here.

(I do know that a cyclist could legally fit a flasher without a steady mode, so long as they had some way of knowing it had the correct candelas and then it would not need the BS mark. If they did, they would still need another BS compliant steady lamp for seeing where they were going in the dark. I also know they could fit something fro elsewhere in the EU. OTOH I also know that countless job-threatened PCSO's are being deployed to enforce cycle lighting laws which it has taken eight weeks for the menfromtheministry to interpret correctly and it gets up my nose. :evil: )

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 28 Nov 2010, 7:34pm
by snibgo
thirdcrank wrote:I do know that a cyclist could legally fit a flasher without a steady mode, so long as they had some way of knowing it had the correct candelas and then it would not need the BS mark. If they did, they would still need another BS compliant steady lamp for seeing where they were going in the dark.


That isn't how I interpret "Guidance about lights on pedal bicycles" (http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/vehicle ... edalbi4556).

As far as I can see, the Obligatory Lighting can be a flasher without a steady mode, as you say, but the Optional Lamp can then be a steady light that isn't BS compliant.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 28 Nov 2010, 7:48pm
by thirdcrank
snibgo

I'm sure you are right (so long as you are prepared to buy a battery :oops: of lamps) - I'm meeting myself coming backwards - but the underlying nonsense is still the same. If we accept that from the authorities' POV the real problem is cycling without lights (and I know the arguments saying it is no problem but that is not how the authorities see it) then unenforced bureaucratic nonsense - so complicated that the authorities themselves cannot get it right until a cyclist points out their error and even then they need eight weeks legal persual to get it straight - is unacceptable.

Let's also remember that most of the maginificent improvement in bike lamps in the last 25 years has only come about because everybody has more or less ignored the BS twaddle.

Re: Daytime lights on pedal cycles

Posted: 28 Nov 2010, 7:58pm
by Cunobelin
snibgo wrote:
As far as I can see, the Obligatory Lighting can be a flasher without a steady mode, as you say, but the Optional Lamp can then be a steady light that isn't BS compliant.


I and many others do is exactly this.

My main lighting on the back is an AU1000BS - this is backed up by a couple of MARS 4 and a pair of Dinottes, all of which far exceed te output of the BS light.

Equally on the front is an RVLR compliant Cateye , an Exposure Joystick and an Exposure Enduro Maxx as the backups.

You cannot see either of the "legal" lights, but cannot miss the backup ones!