A new study conducted by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment shows that cyclists run about 17% less risk of becoming accident victims during dark hours if they have functioning head- and rear lights.
Currently about 38% of cyclists have no lighting when riding in the dark. In order to establish the risk factor from cycling without lights, accident data from several cities were set against the number of cyclists riding without lights in those cities. This shows a significant link between the use of bicycle lighting and the chance of accidents. Taking into account the number of elderly and the population density in a municipality, a one percent increase in the use of bike lighting will cause 0,17% less accident injuries for people cycling in the dark. However, these data only apply to accidents between cyclists and motorists, and don’t deal with cycle-to-cycle or single-vehicle accidents.
A recent study in Denmark also clearly indicates that bicycle lighting helps to avoid accidents between cyclists and cars. For a year the study followed cyclists with bicycle lighting who also worked during daytime. Their lights switched on automatically as soon as the bicycle was ridden. This study showed that the group with the automatic lights reported fewer accidents than the control group, especially during dusk. The number of reported accidents by cyclists with automatic lights was 33% less, and the number of accident injuries was 41% less. Cycling in dusk and darkness carries more risks anyway. Though 10% of cycling kilometres are travelled during dark hours, 20% of accidents happen during that time.
In spite of this, bicycle manufacturers as well as cyclists seem to show little interest in the quality of bicycle lighting, according to the report issued by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. Consumers should therefore be better informed in order to create a demand for higher quality bicycle lighting. Another point requiring attention is the fact that elderly people should not only use bicycle lighting to be seen, but also to be able to see well themselves.