During the evenings and in winter months, your visibility to other road users can become next-to-none without appropriate bike visibility and bike lights. Enhancing your visibility when cycling on the road is paramount to your safety, and will significantly reduce the possibility of an incident.
What Do We Mean By Bicycle Visibility?
Anything which can be attached to your bike or yourself for that matter, to improve how visible you are to other road users, pedestrians. Similar to personal visibility when on the bike, only specifically for your bike.
Requiring zero power, reflectors are an excellent and cheap method of making your bike far more visible. The standard paintwork on your bike is unlikely to have reflective properties, so it’s very important to give it some reflective ability. There are 4 places you can easily mount stock reflectors:
- Handle bars
- Seat post
By far the best way to make your bike visible, bike lights drastically improve your safety on the road. With a huge price range and almost limitless options on the market, knowing what to buy can be pretty tricky. We have put together a guide on bike lights for you to check out the best lights for your cycling needs.
For most users, it doesn’t cost the earth to snap on a set of half-decent lights; absolute budget lights can start from as little as £1.50 each. We do however suggest spending more to get a light with more features.
Consider the following before buying:
- Where will you be riding the most? On dark country lanes, a budget light may serve well enough to assist other road users in seeing you but will offer you no field of vision.
- Lights with built-in rechargeable batteries may be more expensive, however over the course of the lights life, they will cost less to run.
- Easy removal is very important if you’re locking your bike in a public place, so you can take them with you rather than leave them at the mercy of thieves.
Additional Reflective Equipment
In addition to the standard reflectors on your bike, it’s possible to retrofit more reflective materials that greatly improve side visibility. Strips of reflective stickers can be mounted on the frame in various positions, cut to size and shaped to fit properly. This is a very cheap and effective method of assisting your bike safety.
One of the most eye-catching reflective material solutions seen out there utilises the spokes to create a strobing effect with the rotation of the wheel.
What’s Legally Required
It is a legal requirement for any new bicycle sold in the UK to feature front and rear reflectors, a reflector affixed to the spokes of each wheel, and reflective elements within any supplied pedals. Though many cyclists remove some of these after purchase and change the pedals to aftermarket models, the police have the power to stop you and enforce these requirements for your own bike safety.
In addition, when cycling at night or in low-light conditions, a bike is also required to have a front and rear light fitted for enhanced visibility. Once again, the police have the power to enforce this law.
The legal requirements for lights are pretty non-specific, and any light attached to the bike is technically valid. However, we recommend going beyond the minimum and investing in a higher-quality light set for ultimate bike safety.
Budget lights exist purely to make you visible, but due to the low lumen output of the LEDs or bulb, can be pretty ineffective. A good front light that not only greatly improves your visibility to other road users, but also casts a beam similar to car lights to help you see further, can cost as little as £25 and is definitely a worthwhile investment for your own safety.
Rear bike lights are just as, if not more important. Ultra-bright rear lights can be as cheap as £20, and will immeasurably improve the likelihood of you been seen from behind.
Ride bright, ride safe!