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Cycling safety: Switch on to the darker nights

The Evening Telegraph: Cycling safety: Switch on to the darker nights

Published Date:
12 November 2009
By Hannah Gray

WITH the nights drawing in, most people’s evening commute is now in the dark. To help encourage cyclists to be bright and wear a light, Travelchoice is running an educational campaign, which includes discounts on lights at numerous cycle stores.

Hannah Gray looks into the law on lights and why being properly illuminated is so important.

IT’S easy to think that with a light-coloured coat or the street lighting, you’re highly visible as a cyclist on the road.

But the fact is, if you ride without lights you could be invisible to other traffic.

And in addition to risking your life, you could be risking a fine as you are breaking the law.

However, in Peterborough at the moment, there is no excuse for pleading ignorance as a special two-week campaign is running aimed at reducing the number of people cycling without lights in the city.

Since November 2, Travelchoice, which is part of Peterborough City Council, has been teaming up with Cambridgeshire Police to both clamp down on those riding without lights, and give advice and even special offers to cyclists who want do want to buy lights.

The Be Bright, Use a Light campaign has seen more than 40 cyclists issued with fines so far, and a host of shops offering huge discounts on light sets.

The law is very clear on what is expected of cyclists riding after dark, as Inspector Kieran Mylchreest, strategic planning and performance inspector at Thorpe Wood Police Station, explained.

"The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 and Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 require a pedal cycle ridden on a road, footpath or cycle path between sunset and sunrise to be fitted with a clean and working front light, rear light, rear reflector and pedal reflectors," he said.

"Failure to do so is a summary offence which can be dealt with by means of summons to the magistrates court or a £30 non-endorsable fixed penalty notice."

As well as issuing fixed penalty notices, during the Be Bright... campaign, police officers have been stopping cyclists who are riding without lights and educating them on the law, plus advising them where they can buy lights at a reduced price from participating retailers.

Insp Mylchreest believes getting lights on your bike is vitally important.

"Now that the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in cyclists are at increased risk of harm and of being involved in a road traffic collision," he said.

"A simple way of mitigating this risk is to ensure that cyclists can be easily seen by other road users and pedestrians. This can be achieved by wearing light coloured and reflective clothing and ensuring that properly working lights and reflectors are fitted to their bikes.

"These simple acts increase a cyclist’s safety and ensures that they are complying with the law."

Matthew Barber, sustainable travel officer for Travelchoice, said the emphasis was very much on keeping people cycling, but just making sure they do it safely.

"We want to encourage people to continue to cycle throughout the winter, but it is vital they make sure they are visible to all road users," he said.

"This campaign highlights that it is simply not acceptable to cycle in the dark without lights, while still encouraging people to continue using sustainable modes of transport."