This article was published in 2005, in Newsletter 63.
That was the headline on a CTC press release. The CTC has been working to get light emitting diode (LED) flashing lights allowed on cycles.
The result of that work is a ‘Statutory Instrument’ (SI) which came into force on 21 October 2005. Now it is legal to ride a bike at night with the only lights a white LED at the front and red at the rear. They must be of at least 4 candela, and flash evenly between 60 and 240 times per minute (flashing to a complicated rhythm is not allowed).
Many regular cyclists such as myself will still prefer brighter lights to see and be seen by, but the big advantage for many cyclists who do little cycling, and very rarely leave street-lit areas in the dark, is that they are more reliable, the batteries last longer, they are less prone to damage and they fit into one’s coat pockets.
The revised regulations at last adopt the 1995 and 2003 updates to the British Standard for cycle lamps, BS 6102: Part 3, so steady LED lights can also now be legal as your only lamps. If your flashing lights are capable of being used as conventional lights as well, they are required to meet BS 6102 (or a European equivalent). The new regulations permit amber or white lamps to be fixed to pedals or wheels, too, as exceptions to the general rule that vehicle lights must not wobble.
Another interesting inclusion in the SI is that now ‘flashing blue lights’ are allowed to be used on vehicles operated by the emergency services. The previous regulations only permitted the use of such lights on ‘motor vehicles’, so all those paramedics and policemen who had discovered that cycles were the quickest form of transport in many urban areas were breaking the law if they also used blue flashing lights!
The CTC announcement is at www.ctc.org.uk/resources/Press_Archive/Flashing_legalised.doc
And if you are really interested the Statutory Instrument is 2005 No. 2559 The Road Vehicles Lighting (Amendment) Regulations 2005, at: www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20052559.htm