Winter days are short, and drivers are often put off by low sunlight, ice-covered windshields or busy social schedules. It’s vital to stay visible in such conditions. In the middle of winter, cyclists are often told that they should be lit up like a string of Christmas lights every time they go after dark. This is far better than cycling with no lights but it’s misleading. Your aim is not to be yet another burning object in a setting that might be filled with Christmas lights. Instead, you want to be immediately recognized as someone who rides a bicycle. You need to light yourself like a cyclist.
To ride on a bike legally between the sun going down and the sun rising, your bicycle, not your person, must be equipped with an approved white headlight and an approved red taillight. That is the theory. In practice, UK lighting regulations are outdated with it even being difficult to find approved lights in stores. The right light fits perfectly with either a battery or dynamo, and it can be seen through the entire quadrant, front or rear.
Flashing lights attract the best attention, and flashing red lights are associated with cyclists. However, it is easier for the driver to assess your distance if you show a steady light. So, it makes sense to use a lamp that doesn’t blink if your trip isn’t under a streetlighting along the road. A solid headlight also allows you to see the best. Avoid super high-powered headlights specifically designed for mountain biking at night, because it can dazzle the driver.
As long as the colour is right, you can use additional lights legally. So, you can equip your stable lights with secondary flashing lights.
Unlike drivers, cyclists are not legally required to use lights between sunrise and sunset when visibility decreases seriously – for example by fog. Keep your lights on. They might make all the difference on a bleak winter day.
Like lights, bicycles must, legally, have a red rear reflector and yellow pedal reflector. Reflectors in the wheels and white front reflectors are not compulsory. Of all this, and although this law is not enforced, the yellow reflector on the pedal says ‘cyclist’ most directly when they catch the headlights of the car, because of the up and down motion.
Most flat pedals come with a pedal reflector or can be mounted.
In addition, reflective ankle tape or reflective heel cycling shoes are great for the same reason as pedal reflectors, as well as having reflective chevrons on the legs of a cyclist. Reflectivity is also worth having on a cycling jacket, board, gloves, bags, side tyres, and more. You know reflectivity works when you see the chevrons used on roadwork vehicles. For more information about these Chevron Kits, visit https://www.vehiclechevrons.com
During the day, choose colours that give the biggest contrast to help you stand out. That means bright yellow, lime green, orange and red, especially in a grey urban environment.
There is a good argument for using pulsating or flashing lights for winter travel even when it’s not foggy, rain or snow. Bright lights on a cycle can be seen during the day, and if you should be moving into a low-lying winter sun or on a faster road, the lights could help you look more visible.
Whatever lights you use, it’s good to bring a pair of secondary lights. The main device might fail, be lost or stolen, or you might forget to change the battery. In this case, a USB rechargeable light with a battery indicator is very practical, because you can recharge via a computer at work if necessary.