Can I claim if I was injured cycling at night without lights?

It is illegal to cycle on a public road after dark without lights and reflectors. Although this does not necessarily preclude making a cycling injury claim - it can affect the amount of compensation awarded.

What is the law regarding cycling at night without lights?

The Highway Code Rule 60 states:

'At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.'

The specifications of lights and reflectors, where to fit them and when to use them, are defined by the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations (RVLR), but in essence the lights must be clean and in working order.

Although the fine details of the RVLR are seldom enforced - showing a white front light red rear light is usually sufficient. However, any slight illegality with respect to lights and reflectors may impact negatively on any compensation awarded.

Is there a legal definition of 'night'?

Cyclists are required to display lights between sunset and sunrise. Car drivers must also switch on their sidelights during this period. The period between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise is defined as 'The Hours of Darkness' - during which drivers must use headlights.

Although it would be wise to display lights at times of reduced visibility, such as fog, there is no legal requirement for cyclists to do so.

Are there any exceptions to the regulations?

There are a few of exceptions allowing bikes:

  • manufactured before October 1990 to have any type of white front lamp fitted - as long as it is visible from a reasonable distance - and the lights do not need to conform to BS6102/3 or equivalent EC standard
  • made before 1st October 1985 an exemption from the need to have pedal reflectors.
  • to be stationary or be pushed along the roadside without lights

Contributory negligence

If the accident occurred between sunset and sunrise and the cyclist was not displaying lights (as defined by RVLR) the Courts may consider the cyclist to have been entirely or partially at fault by not making other road users aware of his or her presence. This is described as 'contributory negligence'.

The judge may also decide that if the cyclist had complied with the regulations and was therefore visible, the injury may have been avoided or less severe.

In the event of contributory negligence, any compensatory award would be subject to a split liability agreement where compensation is apportioned in accordance with blame.

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning cycling accident claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

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