General guidance and advice on the legislative requirements in Great Britain relating to lights and reflectors on pedal cycles. The use of lighting and reflectors on pedal cycles is regulated under the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, as amended. The most recent amendment affecting pedal cycles is Statutory Instrument SI 2005 No. 2559 which came into force on October 23 2005.

The main effect of this amendment was to permit flashing lights on pedal cycles. The flashing lights have to conform to certain requirements.

Obligatory lighting and reflectors

Any cycle which is used between sunset and sunrise must be fitted with the following:

  • white front light
  • red rear light
  • red rear reflector
  • amber/yellow pedal reflectors – front and rear on each pedal

The lamps may be steady or flashing, or a mixture, for example steady at the front and flashing at the rear. A steady light is recommended at the front when the cycle is used in areas without good street lighting.

If either of the lights is capable of emitting a steady light, then it must conform to BS 61023 and be marked accordingly, even if used in flashing mode.

Purely flashing lights are not required to conform to BS61023, but the flash rate must be between 60 and 240 equal flashes per minute (1 to 4 per second) and the luminous intensity must be at least 4 candela. (This should be advised by the manufacturer). The pedal reflectors and rear reflector must conform to BS 61022.

Lights and reflectors not conforming to the BS, but conforming to a corresponding standard of another EC country and marked accordingly, are considered to comply as long as that standard provides an equivalent level of safety.

Lights are not required to be fitted on a bicycle at the point of sale - but if they are fitted, then they must comply with these regulations.

Optional lamps and reflectors

Additional lighting to the above mentioned obligatory lights is permitted under certain conditions:

  • it must not dazzle other road users
  • it must be the correct colour (white to front, red to rear)
  • if it flashes, it must conform to the required flash rate (1 to 4 equal flashes per second)

Optional lights are not required to conform to BS 61023 and there is no minimum level of intensity. So for example, on the rear of the cycle a cyclist may wish to have both a steady red lamp which conforms to BS 61023 and an additional flashing lamp which is not meeting the minimum level of 4 candela.

Exemptions from the regulations

The only case of exemption from the regulations is for cycles 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, eg fog.

Application and enforcement of the regulations

These regulations concern the construction and use of pedal cycles. Cycle and lamp manufacturers, importers, retailers and riders should all ensure that they are familiar with the law.

For non lighting construction and use aspects of cycle safety such as brakes, other regulations are in force - the Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 (Statutory Instrument 1983 No. 1176).

In addition, at the point of first sale a new bicycle must comply with The Pedal Bicycles (Safety) Regulations 2010 (Statutory Instrument 2010 No.198).

The regulations apply to mainland Great Britain but not Northern Ireland. They are made under powers provided by the Road Traffic Act 1988. Enforcement is a matter for the police.

Copies of regulations are available from:

The Stationery Office
The Publications Centre
PO Box 276

Tel: 0870 600 5522
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