Following sustained campaigning by CTC, the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation, and just in time for when the clocks go back this year, it should at last become legal to use flashing lights on your bike. The Minister of State, Dr Stephen Ladyman, this week signed the order; and provided there are no parliamentary objections before then, it should become law in October.
The details were decided in close consultation with CTC's technical officer, Chris Juden, who said: "This is a welcome liberalisation of cycle lighting law because provided they are bright enough, flashers front and rear will not only be legal, but will be all the lights you need."
In brief, to be legally approved a light may flash at least once and not more than four times per second with a brilliance of at least four candle-power. Most of the better quality flashing lights on sale today, meet that simple requirement.
Unfortunately DfT felt unable to make any changes beyond the matter of flashing lights. This will have some strange and unintended consequences. Since lamps emitting a steady light must still conform with BS6102/3 and all that entails, it now becomes much simpler to be legal by flashing than not! DfT are aware of this paradox and intend to add a recommendation to the Highway Code (currently also under review) to use a steady headlamp on unlit roads.
CTC continues to campaign for a similar, simple legal approval of lamps emitting steady light, and for a permitted alternative to pedal reflectors in cases where these cannot be used or seen. Until then: cyclists who sensibly light their way with one of those brilliant rechargeable headlamps, that emit thousands of candle-power but are non-the-less, non-BS, can most easily make themselves legal by also fitting a little 4-candela flasher.