Lighting Requirements for Bicycles

All states require cyclists to use a headlight on their bike at night.  That is a very good rule.  Pennsylvania goes one step further and requires that cyclists have a rear reflector that is visible from 500 feet.  Bucks County personal injury lawyer, Michael L. Saile, Jr., advises that if you are going to ride your bicycle between sunset and sunrise, equip it with proper lighting so drivers will be able to see you. Bicycle accidents are among the worst types of “moving vehicle” accidents, leaving many cyclists with seriously grave injuries if hit by a car.


Your bike should have a front light, in addition to effective rear and side reflectors.  There are a number of different types of bicycle lights:


  • Small battery lights: These lights are most useful for riding under streetlights. It is important to aim the headlight so it looks as bright as possible to oncoming traffic. These types of lights, their batteries, and chargers are available at most hardware stores.


  • Generator system: Unlike small battery lights, a good generator system is bright enough to light your way on dark roads. It is the best choice for long-distance riding, especially because you might not be able to buy or recharge batteries for another type of light. One disadvantage of a generator system is the fact that most systems will go dark when you stop riding. Therefore, generators are not ideal for stop and go riding in a city. However, some systems will come with a battery back-up that keeps them illuminated when you stop. 


  • High-Powered Battery Lights: These lights are the most powerful and brightest. They are the best for riding at night during harsh weather conditions, on dark roads, or off-road riding. High-powered battery lights are more expensive and heavier than most bike lights, and they need recharging frequently.





While riding your bike at night, always carry spare bulbs and batteries for your lights. It is also a good idea to carry a small battery operated light as a spare in case your main lighting system stops working. Riding at night is dangerous without proper lighting, so make sure you will be clearly visible to drivers before getting on your bike. In addition to attaching lights to your bike, also wear brightly colored clothing or put fluorescent colored strips of tape across the back of your dark colored jacket.


The Need to See, In Addition to Being Seen


A bicycle-car collision is not the only concern a cyclist has when riding at night.  A light on the front of your bike is also helpful in order to see potholes in the road, dead animals on the road, live animals emerging into the roadway, or pedestrians who are sharing the edge of the road with you.

Bicycle accidents are often very serious.  If your or a family member has been injured in a Philadelphia area bicycle accident that was caused by the carelessness of another, contact a Pensylvania accident injury lawyer to discuss your options. You can reach us at 215-642-2335 to discuss your case and schedule your FREE consultation.