Are bike lights a legal requirement?

Are bike lights a legal requirement?

One of the common questions asked by bikers is the legal requirement for bike lights. Unlike motor vehicles, in which the legal requirements are discussed upon acquiring the license, the legalities of biking accessories are somewhat vague.

This is why despite various companies and organizations' massive campaigns in promoting road safety through bike lights, not all bikers acquire their own lights. Unfortunately, even though you adhere to it, if you happen to ride with someone who doesn't, there's still a high chance that you can get into a road accident.



This is why we will learn if there really is a legal requirement for bike lights in this blog. And if so, what are these bike light legal requirements that you have to adhere to.

Are bike lights a legal requirement?

The legality of bike lights depends on the country you're in.

In the United States, there is no federal law that requires bikers to have bike lights. The only legal requirement by the Consumer Products Safety Commission is the presence of reflectors on bicycles for road visibility. 

Other than this, it's purely up to the bike owner if he wants to get bike lights.

However, the State of Oregon implements The Oregon Vehicle Code ORS 815.280 or the Violation of Bicycle Equipment Requirements. According to the said Code, bikers running in "limited visibility conditions" such as dark roads, foggy highways, or unlit streets should have a white front light with a visibility of at least 500 feet. 

Furthermore, the Oregon Vehicle Code also encourages bikers to have other bike lights such as tail lights or brake lights. However, there is no penalty when you fail to get the said bike lights, unlike front lights.

On the other hand, bike lights are considered legal requirements in the United Kingdom. 

According to the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations or RVLR of the UK, it's illegal to ride on a public road without bike lights.

Furthermore, the UK government implements Rule 60 of the Highway Code, which states that cyclists must have white front lights and red rear lights. And when riding on areas without streetlights, bikers should at least keep a steady front lamp running.

What are the required specifications for bike lights?

For the Oregon Code bike light legal requirements, the front light must be visible for at least 500 feet. The front light could either be attached to the bike or to the helmet of the biker.

For bikes running in "limited visibility condition," the bike should also have a rear "passive lighting" accessory such as a reflector that can be seen at least 600 feet to the rear. However, should you prefer "active lighting" such as rear lights, the legal requirement is also at 600 feet visibility from the rear. The biker can have either or both passive and active rear lighting.

On the other hand, for the bike light legal requirements in the UK, the front lamp should be a white light that is positioned up to 150cm from the ground. It should be facing forward at all times.

The rear light should be the color red. It should be positioned between 35cm to 150cm from the ground, facing backward from the bike. 

Both the front lights and rear lights should have at least four candelas (units of luminosity). They should also have a flashing setting within the range of 60 to 240 flashes per minute.

Like with the State of Oregon, the UK also requires "passive lighting" or reflectors. The rear reflector should be red and positioned between 25cm to 90cm from the ground facing backward.


Pedal reflectors and other passive lighting accessories should be in the color of amber. They should be visible to the front and rear of each pedal.