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Lights on cycleway

Someone recently told me that cycleways legally need to have lights for users. I was wondering the council could confim whether this is true or not.

My reason for asking is the cycle path along the busway is unlit and during the winter it is precarious/freaky friday even with the best lights. I know there would be a cost, but could lights be added? I’m sure lots of cyclists will be taking to their cars if it remains unlit.

Posted in Council and Councillors, Issues, Traffic and transport
Tags: ,
Posted on 8 October 2012, by Cycling in the dark.

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7 Responses

  1. Cambridgeshire County Council says:
    November 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Hi David.

    Apologies tha it has taken over a month to respond to Suzannah’s original query but this was due to a delay, because of staff absence, in referring the issue to the Busway Team.

    I believe the answer to the question:

    1. Is it law for cycleways to be lit

    Has been answered, which is “no they do not”.

    The good news is that officers of the County Council have been working to gain funding for a system of solar charged LED lights at a space of 24m, which will mark out the outline of the maintenance track between Histon and St.Ives. Below is a websire link to the type of light that the County Council is considering:

    The cost of the scheme would be £110,000, with the cost being met from the Local Strategic Transport Fund. As soon as funding approval is in place, we will publish the date for the works to commence.

    Terry @ Community Engagement

  2. What a terribly disappointing response from CCC.

    If we look at Suzannah’s original query (which I have been monitoring since it was published over a month ago) we can summarise the points raised as follows.

    1- is it law for cycleways to be lit?
    2- the busway/cycleway is unlit, could it possibly be lit to aid cyclists (and other users)?

    CCC’s response in quoting the Highway Code verbatim to someone who is already compliant with a facet designed to increase visibility to other road users, is at best missing the question, and at worst downright rude.

    An opportunity to open dialogue with the busway’s cycling community (of which there are many) has been missed here, so I’d like to offer CCC another chance to answer Suzannah’s question properly.

    The guided busway’s cycle route is a fantastic facility to have, but as Suzannah rightly states the absence of lighting makes night-time use scary and unappealing.

    I first noticed this when cycling the relatively short distance from Over to St Ives one summer evening after a football match, joining the busway at Swavesey. Granted it was after 11pm but I had forgotten just how dark night-time can be in the absence of any light pollution. As Suzannah, I have lights on my bike and a reasonably priced set too (just shy of (£70 for my front light). Despite this, cycling the busway was akin to a scene in a horror movie with a dodgy torch. What struck me was how the cycleway would be pitch black during the peak commuter times of dusk and dawn in winter, not just for those using the cycleway after a night out.

    To exacerbate matters, cyclists also have to contend with the disabling glare from passing buses which can seriously disorientate you. After an oncoming bus passes you by, there are a couple of seconds where you can literally see nothing. Buses travelling in the same direction as you provide a snapshot image of the road ahead before they disappear, again plunging you into temporary night blindness.

    A solution would be fantastic but we obviously do not want to turn the busway into a sodium/halogen lit monstrosity that’s visible from space.

    If we take the reasonable expectation that cyclist use the busway in accordance with the requirements of The Highway Code and associated regulations (something that makes cyclists visible to other highway users but does little to increase general visibility of the cycleway itself) we need to consider what else can be done to improve the situation.

    One solution may be,

    At a number of locations along the busway (where bridleways cross for example) there has been excellent use of solar charged LED markers which have been in place a number of locations around Cambridge for a long time now. The installation of these fantastic bits of technology along the busway would provide a welcome sight for cyclists enabling them to better see the way ahead.

    Is the cost of installing these units along the length of the busway so prohibitively expensive? They have been installed readily in other locations (Girton, Fulbourn, nr Cambridge City airport) where cycle traffic is noticeably lower than the busway and where ambient lighting is already present – so is it inconceivable that they could be installed on the busway?

    In summary, please,

    1- answer Suzannah’s question properly
    2- provide details on any considered options for improving the busway lighting particularly any specific details on the solar powered LED lamps I have described above.
    3- if the installation of such lighting cannot/will not, be carried out please explain why. Do not merely state “cost”, everything costs money I am aware of that; rather explain why the costs are so prohibitively expensive and a justification as to why one of the most used, totally unlit cycleways in Cambridgshire (possibly the UK) does not warrant such investment.
    4- visit the busway after dark and walk/run/cycle between stops to get a feel for the issue that is being raised here. Then post your thoughts and observations back on here.

    Thank you for your time.

  3. Cambridgeshire County Council says:
    November 8, 2012 at 3:42 pm


    There is no legal requirement for a cycleway to be lit. However, the following information from the Highway code may be of use:

    “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 relevant legislation relating to appropriate lighting on vehicles (which includes cycles) is the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989; sections 13, 18 and 24 refer.

    Terry @ Community Engagement

  4. Thanks Helen.

  5. ShapeYourPlace says:
    November 6, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Hi Suzannah
    Sorry you have not had a response on this, ShapeYourPlace has gone back to Cambridgeshire County Council today and asked for a comment.
    Many thanks

  6. Nearly a month has passed and no response which is very poor customer service.

  7. ShapeYourPlace says:
    October 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    This issue has been passed to Cambridgeshire County Council who will respond directly on the site.
    Many thanks

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