Bicyclists should be well lit while riding in the dark

Winter is here, and that means shorter days and stormy weather. These conditions can make riding a bicycle dangerous. Below is some useful information about bicycle light and reflector laws from Capt. Steve Clark of the Santa Cruz Police Department: “With shorter days looming during the winter months, bicycle commuters can be caught off-guard and find themselves heading to work or home in darkness. This situation, combined with wet roadways from rain, can make bicyclists particularly vulnerable as they become more difficult to see. The goal with any lighting or reflectorized equipment is not only to see, but to ensure you are seen. “Section 21201 (d) of the California Vehicle Code spells out lighting and reflector requirements for bicyclists as:
  • A white light to the front visible from 300 feet
  • Red reflector to the rear visible from 500 feet
  • White or yellow reflectors on each pedal or ankle visible from 200 feet
  • Reflectors or reflectorized tires on each side
“Although these requirements are enough to meet 'legal' requirements, oftentimes it is not enough to ensure you are seen by motorists. Increased awareness in lighting and reflectorized equipment choices, as well as safe riding habits, helps to ensure you are seen and, ultimately, a safe commute. “When making equipment choices, be proactive and choose the one that goes above and beyond. There are a number of products from flashing LED lighting to wide-strip reflectorized material that significantly increase your visibility at night, especially with light reflections and glare from wet road surfaces. “Clearly, motorists have a huge responsibility to be diligent in watching for bicycles and other traffic but an argument about liability is hardly consolation in the after math of a serious collision. As a bicyclist, be sure to give yourself the best chance of being seen and recognized on the road. Here's to safe commuting in 2011.”
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