Almost a month ago I made a little survey on road laws and the perceived acceptability of breaking them, I tried to be balanced in my questions and included some well known laws as well as other less known ones and ones, anecdotally, motorists and cyclists seem fine with breaking and not.
I consider myself a law abiding cyclist, but there is a set of laws I knowingly fail to comply with. Reflectors. I have 3 bikes, at night I ride with at least one front and rear light, normally 2 each, and some of them have lights on the spokes of the wheels, I regularly wear ‘Hi-Viz’ clothing, I do not however have any reflectors. On any bike, no front, rear or pedal reflectors. One bike is old enough to be exempt on the pedal reflectors, the others not so. Anyway, of the laws I cited in the survey, this is the one I clearly find acceptable to flout. I consider them to be not as good nor bright as my lights and redundant.
However, the survey results seem to differ, so even considering it merely a collection of anecdotal data, 42.9% think you should never ride without reflectors. In comparison, more people think its acceptable to sometimes jump reds and sometimes ride on the pavement. Breaking it down into those who identify as regular cyclists (monthly or more) and those who don’t, the general consensus is regular cyclists (about 57% of respondents) is that its fine, while a quarter weren’t sure of the law and 2 thought it never acceptable to ride without reflectors. Compare that to non-cyclists, 78% thought you reflectors were always required. Although this is by no means representative, it is something to consider.
The Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations state that front and rear lights are a must, obviously, as well as one red rear and white front reflector and 2 orange reflectors on each pedal. There are exemptions for older bikes so my Dawes is fine without pedal reflectors but not the others which as I state, I don’t have.
Considering pedal reflectors, as of yesterday for design reasons, it would be impossible to have the required number of reflectors, mainly due to the lack of space to attach them. One pair of SPD-pedals, when used are dwarfed by my feet, and when I bought them didn’t come with reflectors or information on the legality therein.
This weekend I am going on the Tweed Run, and wanting not to buy £150 leather SPD shoes, and not wearing the fairly fugly looking ones I have already, I bought some new pedals with the intention of moving the cages from another bike onto it (couldn’t swap pedals because the shop that put my pedals on originally cross-threaded the cranks and yeah, generally ruined in terms of pedals and cranks). The new pedals came with the 4 reflectors, which I immediately removed to fit the cage and straps on. The bike the pedals are intended for is a fixed gear with one brake, and yeah, foot retention is a general must to ensure you can stop. I value braking with the myriad of other lights over reflectors and decreased stopping power. And herein lies an issue, the laws aren’t practical with many forms of cycling, my fixed is road legal, but safety requires the retention, likewise clipless pedals tend to not have been designed for use at night time… So, well, yeah, just explaining a bit why I don’t have pedal reflectors and why I think its acceptable to not have them. I’d be curious to have identical bikes one with reflectors and one not and to see whether the visibility is altered significantly.
I’m not yet going to be putting any reflectors on my bikes, its a shame that this could be used against me if I were to be in a collision, and surprising that those who responded found it so reprehensible to not have them. Anyway, yeah, more people do the survey.
PS: Apparently also the 2005 amendment allows flashing lights on bikes, which I never knew were legal but rather residing in a grey area…