Light up and be seen

Be seen: decent lights don't need to cost a lot of money. Photo courtesty Bicyle Victoria

Be seen: decent lights don't need to cost a lot of money. Photo courtesty Bicyle Victoria

Daylight savings is now weeks behind us and the morning light is fading and the evening light even faster for cyclists that either commute or train whether it be for recreational or racing purposes. Being seen is not only important for your personal safety but for the peace of mind of other shared road users.

National traffic regulations require a flashing or steady white light (front) and red light (rear) that is clearly visible for at least 200m from the bicycle. A red reflector is also required on the rear of the bike.

Bicycle Victoria recently released the Bicycle Network tests revealing the most effective bike lights on the market that require disposable batteries.

The Bicycle Network recommends that bike riders who ride at night purchase the Basta Polaris 5 LED (front light, approx $39.95) and the NiteRider TL 5.0 (rear light, approx $14.95).

Tests of 40 lights were conducted by Ride On magazine and supervised by Choice magazine. The ten members of the judging panel included Police, VicRoads, the Victorian Road Authority, RACV, University industrial designers and bicycle retailers.

Riders want to know that their light can be seen by drivers. In the test each light was viewed head on and then from the side. The lights are tested over a distance of 200m which is the requirement for a bicycle light under the traffic regulations. Each light was rated by each tester and the scores averaged. Lights were also tested for durability and value for money.

The test is part of the “National Light Up!” campaign by the Bicycle Network to reduce the number of riders who ride at night without lights. One quarter of all bike trips are at night. But one quarter of bike riders on the road at night do not have regulation front and rear lights, Harry Barber CEO of Bicycle Victoria said.

“It seems that people who are new to riding are often without lights,” said Mr Barber.“Other road users expect riders to have lights and so do the police,” he added. “People who ride without lights tell us they don’t know which light to buy. Well now they do.”

Autumn and end of daylight savings riding advice

Regular riders should fit fresh batteries to their bike lights. New riders should buy the recommended lights. Riders with lights more than two years old should consider an upgrade. Today’s lights are significantly better.

  • As many as 25% of bicycle trips occur after 6pm.
  • During winter most of the commuter trips and half of all trips will require working bike lights. Fatalities in night time or semi darkness often involve riders without lights or with inadequate lighting.
  • A 2006 study suggests that fewer than a quarter of bicycle collisions occur during dusk, dawn and darkness, however the injuries sustained in these collisions are more severe than those in daylight.
  • The penalties for riding at night without lights in Victoria $110.00 and one penalty unit.

It is not uncommon for riders to be seen on Bendigo roads without adequate lights being displayed both in the early morning or early evenings. Some of this may well be the simple need to replace batteries in the light unit and others is the ignorance of the risk being taken on the mistaken belief that street lighting is adequate to travel by and be seen.

The local bike shops are fantastic in providing options with a superb range of lights – some quite expensive but worth every dollar for the committed rider. If you have ever come across the many mountain bike groups that now exist returning from their regular night rides you would appreciate the outlay of money for effective lighting systems. These groups are an exceptional example having lights equivalent to motor vehicles.

Reflective material on the ankles or wheels is additional value to being seen at night from side on and is not be underestimated in catching the eye of a shared road user.

See you well lit up on the road soon God willing

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