Government promises action on dazzling bicycle lights


Government promises action on dazzling bicycle lights

In the latest development of the fragile relationship between cyclists and motorists, the Government has promised to take action after an investigation conducted by the Sunday Times revealed that 80% of bicycle lights sold in the UK exceed the legal brightness levels imposed on dipped car headlights.

A photometric test of ten of the leading bicycle lights concluded that eight exceeded the legal maximum, even when set to their lowest setting and pointed towards the road.

On their maximum setting, nine of the lights were brighter than a car headlight, resulting in the dazzling of other road users.

Aside from brightness, the majority of the lights tested could also be set to strobe, meaning a full intensity burst of light is emitted every second or so, which can cause glare and distract drivers from avoiding the cyclist in the first place.

Defending the brightness of cycle lights to the Sunday Times, Stephen Young, managing director of Lumicycle, makers of the ultra-bright LED4Si light, said: "You have to offset the vulnerability of the cyclist and if that means causing dazzle to a driver, maybe that's worth it."

Thankfully, Stephen Hammond, minister for road safety hasn't taken quite such a blasé view of the issue: "Cyclists are required to use lights to ensure that they are visible to others using the roads and to see the road ahead.

"However, we are aware that the law on vehicle lighting has not kept pace with developments in the market for bike lights, so we are reviewing the lighting regulations and hope to come forward with proposals to revise them later this year."

Currently, Department for Transport rules state that a light must not exceed a maximum intensity of 70 candela, which has been rendered outdated by advances in road lighting technology.