News,

Winter is here: Check your bicycle lights

Publikováno: 11. listopadu. 2023, 4 min. čtení
Úvodní foto: Jan Hromádko
Publikováno: 11. listopadu. 2023, 4 min. čtení
Úvodní foto: Jan Hromádko

With the change to winter time, the need for quality bicycle lighting will soon catch up with everyone. Darkness arrives much earlier, so it’s important to focus on good bicycle lighting even more than in the summer. This is also recognized by the municipal police in Prague, which has launched its preventive campaign „Don’t ride like a blind man“ for the eighth time.

How to set up the lighting?

It’s advisable to have the basic lighting of your bicycle sorted out, even if you think no one will see you cycling at night. You may need to ride, and especially in the autumn or winter, you can’t avoid gloom or darkness. The key is to see and be seen! Your bicycle should definitely have mandatory reflectors, and in conditions of reduced visibility, a front white headlight and a rear red taillight are necessary. Some reflectors can be replaced with similar reflective elements on clothing, fenders, or the bicycle tire tread (see more in the infobox).

In streets with good public lighting, you can get by with just a front and rear blinker. However, in poorly lit streets or parks, a headlight is useful, even though you don’t have to keep it on continuously. The front light is more important than the rear one. From behind, you will be protected in the worst-case scenario by reflectors, but when moving forward, you often find yourself in a situation where others can see you only because of an active headlight.

Decree on Bicycle Lighting

A bicycle must:

  • be equipped with a rear reflector of red color, which may be combined with a rear light emitting red light or replaced with reflective materials of similar properties, which may be placed on the cyclist’s clothing or footwear; the surface of the reflector must not be smaller than 2000 mm², with an inscribed quadrilateral having one side measuring at least 40 mm, the reflector must be firmly positioned in the longitudinal central plane of the bicycle or as close to it as possible on the left side at a height of 250 – 900 mm above the road surface; the active surface of the reflector must be perpendicular to the road surface within a tolerance of +/- 15 degrees and perpendicular to the longitudinal central plane of the bicycle with a tolerance of +/- 5 degrees, the active surface of the reflector must be visible at an angle of +/- 30 degrees horizontally and +/- 15 degrees vertically.
  • be equipped with a front reflector of white color, which may be replaced with reflective materials of similar properties that can be placed on the cyclist’s clothing or footwear; the reflector must be positioned in the longitudinal central plane above the surface of the front tire of the stationary bicycle; the surface of the reflector must not be smaller than 2000 mm², with an inscribed quadrilateral having one side measuring at least 40 mm, the active surface of the reflector must be perpendicular to the road surface with a tolerance of +/- 15 degrees and perpendicular to the longitudinal central plane of the bicycle with a tolerance of +/- 5 degrees, the active surface of the reflector must be visible at an angle of +/- 30 degrees horizontally and +/- 15 degrees vertically.
  • be equipped with orange reflectors on both sides of the pedals, which may be replaced with reflective materials of similar properties placed on the cyclist’s footwear or in its proximity.
  • have at least one orange side reflector on the spokes of the front or rear wheel or both wheels, which may be replaced with reflective materials placed on the sides of the wheel or on the sides of tire treads or on the ends of fenders or on the sides of the cyclist’s clothing; the surface of the reflector must not be smaller than 2000 mm², with an inscribed quadrilateral having one side measuring at least 20 mm.

Bicycles intended for riding in reduced visibility conditions must also be equipped with:

  • a headlight emitting white light forward, which must be adjusted and permanently set so that the reference axis of the light beam intersects the road surface plane at a distance of no more than 20 m from the headlight and so that this adjustment cannot change spontaneously or unintentionally by the cyclist; if the road is sufficiently and continuously illuminated, the headlight may be replaced with a light emitting white light with intermittent light.
  • a rear light emitting red light, which may be combined with a red rear reflector according to paragraph 1 letter e) or may be replaced with a light emitting red light with intermittent light; the rear light emitting red light must be firmly positioned in the longitudinal central plane of the bicycle or as close to it as possible on the left side at a height of 250 – 900 mm above the road surface; the active surface of the reflector must be perpendicular to the road surface within a tolerance of +/- 15 degrees and perpendicular to the longitudinal central plane of the bicycle with a tolerance of +/- 5 degrees.
  • a source of electrical current; if it is a power supply source, it must ensure the luminosity of lights according to paragraphs a) and b) for at least 1.5 hours without interruption.

(Source: Decree No. 153/2023 Coll.)

We recommend getting permanent induction blinkers (e.g., Reelight) for your city bike, which shine continuously. Lights powered by a hub dynamo can also be suitable. The greater investment will pay off in the peace of mind of not worrying about batteries or attaching and removing blinkers. Nevertheless, it’s wise to have some backup in case of main light failure. This could be simple blinkers, for instance. Blinkers can complement a solid headlight and serve as a backup light that you can easily carry in your backpack. Avoid using headlamps as they can blind others. Also, be cautious when choosing a front light – opt for types that direct the light towards the road and do not dazzle oncoming cyclists and riders excessively.

Beyond the standard equipment, there are reflective vests, flashing reflective strips, and the like. While it is desirable to be visible, the excessive use of reflective elements can overshadow other cyclists and pedestrians, so their application makes sense only when riding in adverse weather and low visibility conditions on busy roads where most drivers do not anticipate cyclists.

"Don't ride like a blind man"

For the eighth year in a row, the municipal police in Prague is focusing on bicycle lighting. The first part took place last week [last week of October – editor], but the campaign continues. On Monday and Thursday evenings, a stand is set up near popular Prague cycling paths, primarily for educational purposes, including offering essential reflective elements and blinkers for free. No fines will be issued as part of this campaign, so if you feel that your bicycle is inadequately equipped, don’t hesitate to stop at the stand and improve your bike’s lighting setup.

This is an adjusted ChatGPT translation of this article: https://mestemnakole.cz/2023/11/zimni-cas-je-tu-zkontrolujte-osvetleni-kola/

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