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Cyclist lights

From Dave Wilson

Thursday, 6 March 2014

I know a great many people have commented on cyclists using footpaths, but I would like to add another concern I have regarding the number of cyclists using the area . . . Their lights!

It used to be that all road using vehicles had to have continuous lights on their vehicles, red to the rear and white to the front. It seemed that the law or something changed for cyclists, allowing flashing lights. Ok there is some sense in this if you have a set of continuous ones as well. However with improved bulbs and batteries these lights are becoming a hazard.

Large groups of cyclists with extra bright lights are now invading our paths, roads and pavements with blinding lights of all colours. Recently I noticed a blue flashing very bright light reflecting off shop and house windows on a bend in the road. Car drivers naturally started to move over to the side of the road expecting an emergency vehicle, only to discover a cyclist with an extremely bright blue flashing light on his bike.

On another occasion, when I was driving, I had to pull over after being blinded by a cyclist with a very bright light attached to his helmet which obviously pointed wherever his head was pointing. When large groups of cyclists are out using these lamps it is an even more dangerous spectacle. Should not the law also adapt to control these mobile search lights before somebody is killed.

From Andy M

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Much better to have lights than to be invisible in the dark.

I once knocked over an unlit cyclist and have appreciated ever since how invisible they/we can be and how useful good lights are for both cyclists and drivers.

From Kevin M

Thursday, 6 March 2014

I cycle regularly on the roads around Hebden Bridge and this is a selection of incidents which have happened to me - not every week, but all have happened at some point in the last few years.

  • Drivers pass too close. There has been an occasion when I have been clipped by a wing mirror.
  • On blind corners, such as on the Keighley Road drivers have overtaken me, oblivious of the potential consequences of meeting a car coming the other way.
  • On some of the narrow roads around the valley drivers have not waited for a safe place to pass, sometime forcing me into a dangerous wobble or even running me off the road.
  • I ride so that I am not in the "door zone" next to parked cars, some drivers have carried out a "punishment pass", cutting in front of me to let me know that I am a form of lowlife who should not have the temerity to slow them down, even for a second.
  • I have arrive at an Advance Stop Line reserved for cycles; there are drivers that have stopped in it so they block my opportunity for improved safety.
  • Roadworks along the Valley Road; drivers have attempted to bully their way past, even if the lane is too narrow.
  • At traffic lights, roundabouts and junctions drivers have squeezed past me, only to turn left straight in front of me, without any form of indicators.
  • At roundabouts and junctions I have seen many drivers on their phone – making calls or texting, eating or applying make up. Because they are doing this they have not noticed me.
  • At night drivers on unlit roads cars drive on full beam, a lot do not dip their lamps for me.
  • In the summer sometimes car passengers have thrown things at me, or shouted unexpectedly our of the car window, which can be very dangerous for a cyclist.

There are drivers who are reluctant, or even angry about sharing road space with cyclists. People treat the responsibility of controlling 1.5 tonnes of metal incredibly casually. Some seem almost anxious for a distraction from what should be their primary focus – concentrating on the environment around them.

Although personally I don't wear a helmet or a head torch, I completely understand why some cyclists feel that they need to do all they can to make sure they can grab the attention of car drivers. My criticism is not of cyclist's lights but of car drivers and their selfish and dangerous attitudes towards vulnerable road users.

From Colin C

Thursday, 6 March 2014

In response to Dave Wilson, I am a law abiding cyclist who stops at red lights, obeys other rules of the road, stays courteous, and generally tries to share the road with others in a sensible fashion.

However whilst riding on the valley's roads I've been subjected to all the occurrences already listed, knocked off my bike, ridden off the road intentionally etc.

It may be worth you trying out our very un-cyclist friendly roads one day to gain a two wheeled perspective of life on transport in the Calder Valley.

I don't use a helmet torch but have bright white (sometimes) flashing lights on the front, and bright red ones on the back that flash in a seemingly random pattern. The simple reason for this is to make myself difficult to ignore. If this involves startling an occasional motorist, perhaps even causing them to slow down to something approaching the speed limit, I make no apology. So if my lights bother you as you overtake, slow down and give me a wide berth and don't simply assume you'll be able to get around me safely. As soon as I can, I'll do everything reasonable that is within my power to let you past.

From Anne H

Friday, 7 March 2014

As a general principle, people in larger vehicles have a responsibility to take care around people in/on smaller vehicles and on foot because the latter are more vulnerable and will sustain greater injuries if they collide. We don't seem to have a problem with car versus pedestrian - the pedestrian is always right (even if they don't act sensibly) and the driver is always wrong if they run into a pedestrian. We always hope that pedestrians (and cyclist) will act according to the rules of the road but even if they don't, car and lorry drivers have the bigger responsibility to avoid injuring them.

The same applies - in theory - to mountain bikers and walkers on tracks and trails. Although there are no rules of the road in this case it makes sense for the cyclists to have the greater responsibility to watch out for walkers (sorry that's another thread).

From Andy M

Friday, 7 March 2014

Actually Anne there are some - albeit brief! - rules of the highway for bridleways by virtue of the 1968 Countryside Act - which also established the right to ride bikes on bridleways.

30 (1) Any member of the public shall have, as a right of way, the right to ride a bicycle, [F85not being a mechanically propelled vehicle], on any bridleway, but in exercising that right cyclists shall give way to pedestrians and persons on horseback.

From David Wilson

Friday, 7 March 2014

I think some people have missed the point. I am not attacking cyclists, as it happens I am one my self. Nor am I defending car drivers or their habits, though I am one myself. I am simply pointing out that high power lights improperly used and fitted are also a dangerous hazard. As I have already pointed out flashing blue coloured lights on a cycle that fooled other road users into thinking an emergency vehicle was approaching. Or that high powered lamps that blind other road users are dangerous. What if due to the improper use of a light another blinded cyclist fell off his bike or a car driver ran over a child simply because somebody with a high powered head torch was not aimed at the road but into the eyes of oncoming traffic. Lights properly fitted to a cycle should aim at the road. If its on the head of a cyclist it will aim where he or she is looking. That may not be a problem when off roading down some dark bridleway but on a highway it certainly is.

To put this another way forget the cycle. if somebody sat at the side of the road blasting such a high powered beam into the eyes of car /motorcycle /bus drivers/ or even cyclists eyes would you be defending them. I think not. This is common sense. High powered lamps should be used responsibly!

From Ian M

Saturday, 8 March 2014

I couldn't agree more, I'm just waiting to read the first report of one of these super bright strobe lights causing an epileptic seizure.

From Jenny B

Saturday, 8 March 2014

To say we are fast approaching Le tour, I hope that this anti-cyclist whinging doesn't give the wrong impression. Some days I wonder what the residents of Hebden Bridge expect from life? To have complete right of way on all roads, paths, bridle ways? To park free in the town all day whilst working in Manchester? To live in a dog free; supermarket free; cyclist free town? Where on earth has the famous laid back approach to life gone? Put a smile on your faces and learn to live in harmony for goodness sake!

From Kevin M

Saturday, 8 March 2014

I do not think that the point has been missed at all.

There are definitely some issues with the mess of regulations that cover cyclist's lights. The regulations have lagged behind the technology and there is a lack of detail about some things. For example, addressing optics so that there is a focus on beam shape and spread rather than a spot beam and so on. ie the shape of the lamp reflector spills the light differently. Additional lights are not well covered either. Although Germany has previously had regulations that cover this area, the UK does not go into this level of detail. Many of the lights you will see are probably road legal (the flashing blue one excepted).

However, where does it really rate in terms of the danger that this poses? Put simply - it is people driving cars who hit and injure cyclists and pedestrians. Calderdale's statistics for 2012 are here.

The contributory factors are people not looking, travelling too fast for the conditions or engaged in another activity that compromises the safety of others. It is common currency that the first words out of a driver's mouth as a cyclist lays injured are often "Sorry, mate, I did not see you".

If there is any evidence or research that cyclist using lights has caused this kind of disaster or carnage then I have not seen it.

From Paul Clarke

Monday, 10 March 2014

I find other drivers driving along the valley with their lights on full beam more of a problem than cyclist lights.

I am a cyclist and a driver so I try to be observant in relation to both cyclists and motorcyclists.

It seems to me that cyclists are doing the right thing wearing lights and I can't think of a time when I have been distracted by their lights.

The one thing I can't stand is when the lyrca brigade ride two abreast at the weekend which on our narrow roads round here is asking for trouble.

But lights are surely a good thing!!

From John Smithson

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

I posted this comment on another thread a couple of days ago, I suspect Paul Clarke might have missed it, so I will re-post:

I suspect Peter P also needs to familiarize himself with the Highway Code. Cycling two abreast is perfectly legal. Rule 66 states you should never cycle more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads. This means it is perfectly legal for cyclists to cycle side by side on most roads in the UK.

As for overtaking cyclists, the Highway code states "give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211-215) Cars overtaking cyclists should be on the other side of the road, just as if they were overtaking a car. It's simple really but it seems that some motorists don't know or understand this rule, if they did, there would be far less cars passing extremely close to cyclists and less road rage between the two groups.

Paul Clarke's remarks suggest an attitude that roads are for motor vehicles and cyclists are tolerated only as long as they get out of the way of the invincible motor car. Time for a bit of reflection Paul, we all have a right to use the roads (most cyclists are after all motorists at some time) and we should be showing respect and due regard to vulnerable road users.