A Brief Guide to Using Bike Lights
Which Bike Lights to Use
The bike lights that you use should suit the type of cycling in which you partake. Those cycling on public roads, particularly in built up, street lit city settings should only require a set of standard LED lights, including a white front light and a red rear light. When cycling in urban areas the main function of your light is to make you more visible to motorists. They should therefore emit at least 4 candelas, the legal requirements for cycling on public roads, and should feature flash settings. For unlit lanes and mountain biking, much brighter lights are required. A high quality LED torch light is ideal for the front of your bike, and it is important to make sure you also have a strong rear light. At the higher end of the market these tend to need to be purchased separately.
How to Use
Most bike lights come with fittings to mount the light to the frame of your bike, meaning that they can be easily removed when they are not in use. Cyclists tend to fit their front light to the handlebars of the bike, and the rear light to the seat post (the pole below the saddle) or just below. This will however vary depending on both light and frame. The law states that when cycling on public roads a front light must be positioned up to 150cm from the ground, while rear lights must be between 35cm and 150cm from the ground. Be sure to keep your lighting clean at all times, and be careful that your rear light is not likely to be obstructed by bags and/or coats. For mountain bikers and off road cyclists the rules regarding positioning relax, and there is much more freedom for the cyclist to choose where and how their lights are positioned.
When to Use Your Bike Lights
The law requires cyclists on public roads to use bike lights between sunset and sunrise, however there are other occasions when you may need to use them. Poor weather considerably reduces visibility, and in such conditions it is wise to use your lights to ensure motorists can still see you clearly. Conditions such as heavy rain, mist, fog and sleet/snow all fall into this category. On a daily basis it is also wise to turn them on as soon as the light begins to fade. As with the positioning of your light the rules surrounding when to use them relax when cycling off public roads, however it is still advisable to use your bike lights in all of the above conditions.