What Lights Do I Need for City Cycling
City cycling has become more and more common these days. The suspension of common public transportation modes during the COVID-19 pandemic has made people realize the health and economic benefits of cycling to work. Because of the increasing cyclist on the road, more and more cities are becoming more rigorous on-road regulations for cyclists, including requiring bicycle lights.
Getting your first set of bicycle lights for city cycling can be tricky. A slight increase in the recommended brightness can be detrimental to your riding experience, making you prone to more accidents. To help you with this, we’ve come up with a complete guide on the lights you need for city cycling.
Why do I need bike lights?
Cyclists need lights even more than other motorists. Surprisingly, only 58% of cyclists use lights for city riding. Here are the top three reasons cyclists need to be more accustomed to using bicycle lights.
Cyclists are considered the second most vulnerable road users next to pedestrians. Unlike other motorists, cyclists have less protection. Minor road accidents by car drivers can be really fatal for cyclists. Last year, 1,089 cyclists died of road crashes in the USA alone.
On a recent health bulletin by the World Health Organization, “inadequate illumination and non-use of bicycle lights” is considered the topmost cause of cycling-related accidents.
“Poor visibility due to inadequate illumination during afternoon peak periods or at nighttime is a major risk factor associated with cyclist collisions,” - World Health Organization, Cyclist Safety Bulletin
In Europe, cyclists are originally required to use any illumination device, including reflective stickers. However, because of the direct connection between the non-use of bicycle lights to the rising numbers of cycling-related road accidents, more and more cities have started requiring the use of bicycle lights, especially during nighttime.
City cyclists worldwide have started receiving violation tickets due to the lack of bicycle lights. So, if you don’t want to be pulled over while cycling to your workplace, securing a pair of cycling lights is best.
Aside from safety and legality, getting bicycle lights can significantly improve a cyclist’s riding experience. For starters, cyclists no longer have to be scared of getting into fatal road accidents, allowing them to focus on their riding techniques.
Most importantly, some bicycle lights are already equipped with anti-theft technology. While the chain and lock method can still be used, bike thieves are becoming more and more creative in rigging this parking technique. Bike lights powered by accelerometers can send anti-theft alerts directly to smartphones, which means cyclists can park their gear outside their workplace or their favorite restaurant without the risk of stealing their bicycle.
What lights do I need for city cycling?
Fortunately, you only need three kinds of bicycle lights to ensure safety, legality, and convenience on the road.
Red Brake Lights
On top of our list is a brake light. Most cycling-related accidents involve road collisions due to abrupt stopping without using any hand signal or signal light. A brake light can notify another driver before you go to a full stop, allowing them to slow down and reduce the risk of a collision.
In finding a brake light, the most important feature you should be looking for is its motion sensor, as this determines when the brake light will go off. It’s best to go for brake lights with a drone-powered accelerometer, as these kinds of brake lights go off as you slow down and not when you hit the brake. This prevents surprising drivers behind you, allowing them to manage their speed before they go to a full stop.
Aside from this, it’s also best to find a brake light with a brightness level of 90 lumens. While this may be low, note that the effectivity of the brightness relies on the lens and not the lumens level. Get a brake light with a Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens that’s also utilized by high-end automobiles. It ensures maximum projection and optimal visibility for your brake light.
White Front Lights
Next up is a white front light. While the two lights on our list allow cyclists to be seen on the road, the front lights allow cyclists to see the road. In getting a front light, it’s best to have at least 1000 lumens of brightness. This would allow you to use your front light on unlit roads, alleys, and tunnels.
On the other hand, it’s imperative to get a front light with anti-glare cut-off light. The level of brightness, if not properly projected, can cause blindness to upcoming drivers, making you more prone to accidents. Fortunately, the German Road Traffic Licensing Regulation has already released the most optimal light projection called the StVZO, which consists of advanced anti-glare technology through precisely engineered optics.
Aside from this, it’s also recommended to get a front light with auto-ambient light technology. This feature automatically adjusts the brightness of the light depending on the environment. Thus, reducing the risk of blindness to other road users.
Red Rear Lights
In the absence of a brake light, it’s best to get a red rear light. In 2004, cycling research proved that fluorescent colors such as red and orange could be seen earlier, better, and at a farther distance by drivers compared to other colors. The color red creates a UV light spectrum, making the light 200% more visible to the human eye.
Because of this optimal projection through color, the ideal rear light could be at 100 lumens. It’s best to get a rear light with advanced COB mini LEDs, as it provides optimal light projection that could go far and wide. Thus, maximizing the cyclist’s ability to be seen.
Should I get auxiliary lights for my bicycle?
Aside from brake, front, and rear lights, there are other cycling lights available in the market. This includes helmet, crank, pedal, and frame lights.
While all of these lights can boost your visibility, these lights are mostly used for style only. In fact, experts suggest that they can cause more harm than good. As mentioned a while ago, excessive lighting can cause blindness, nausea, and loss of focus to other road users, increasing the risk of road accidents. So, it’s best to stick with the three major bicycle lights.
Instead of auxiliary lights, it’s best to secure other cycling accessories that can even boost your protection, such as a GPS tracker. It would help you safely navigate through any roads and traffic.
When it comes to bicycle lights, it’s all about quality and not quantity.
Your safety should always be your top priority when it comes to city cycling. Before riding with style, it’s best to secure these top 3 essential bicycle lights first. No matter how simple or compact a bicycle light may be, it could be the best thing to protect you from fatal road accidents.