It’s that time of year again when the nights are drawing in and we get a little over eight hours of daylight. Given the average working day is eight hours, many who cycle to and from work are now on their bicycles during the hours of darkness.
It's for this reason that Cycle Law Scotland have teamed up with Police Scotland Road Policing Division to launch the #LIGHTUP campaign.
This is not a campaign targeting cyclists. It is an opportunity to educate ALL road users and make them aware of their respective responsibilities.
Whatever your chosen mode of transport, you owe a duty of care to others when sharing road space. There should be a concept of mutual respect but unfortunately that is not always evident on our roads.
Over the years, the ‘them and us’ mentality, particularly between those on bicycles and those in cars has arguably got worse. There are numerous safety campaigns advising cyclists what they ought to do and wear in order to make themselves more visible on the road. While these are well intentioned, they can exacerbate the divide between road users and lay blame for road traffic collisions on the more vulnerable.
Pedestrians and cyclists are classified as vulnerable road users in the Highway Code. We have all encountered poor judgement on occasion by those who walk, cycle or drive. This should not give rise to people being able tarnish all pedestrians, cyclists and drivers with the same brush. That attitude will take us nowhere and is not conducive to an active discussion on how to make our interaction on the roads safer.
The fact is, the majority of us will use several different modes of transport over a week or even a day. The saying, “treat others as you would like to be treated,” is never more apt than when discussing mutual respect on our roads. The reality is that the majority do, but the sad fact is the minority ruin it for the rest.
It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities when on the road. From a cycling perspective the law states that when on your bicycle between sunset and sunrise, it must be fitted with the following;
1. White front light
2. Red rear light
3. Red rear reflector
4. Amber/yellow pedal reflectors
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice for £50. It is considered in the same category as cycling the wrong way down a one-way street or jumping a red light.
The #LIGHTUP campaign will enable Police Scotland to offer out free lights rather than a fixed penalty notice to cyclists stopped for failure to display lights during the hours of darkness. The campaign is not designed to blame those cycling without lights but instead to make sure they understand why they must comply with the law and allow them to proceed more safely and legally to their chosen destination. Cyclists are vulnerable to sustaining injury in any collision with a faster moving vehicle and as such must ensure they are there to be seen. Pedestrians are vulnerable too and cyclists must ensure they are lit up so as not to pose a risk to others on the road.
The reasoning behind the campaign name “hashtag lightup” is that it is also an opportunity for car drivers to ensure they too are ‘lit up’ with fully functional lights to make their vehicles clearly visible on the road. Any campaign, road safety or otherwise, can only be effective if the general public as a whole is engaged. If you segregate out a particular group of road users, we will not achieve the common objective of making Scotland’s roads safer and more user friendly.
Sergeant Dominic Doyle said:
“This campaign provides us with a good opportunity to speak to members of the public who use the road network and to highlight our respective responsibilities. Being easily visible to others, and being alert to other road users, whether you are a cyclist, pedestrian or driver, goes a long way to improving road safety. The majority of us will use several different modes of transport and so it is important to break down the ‘them and us’ mentality’ and instead, all work together to promote road safety.”
Jodi Gordon, Partner at Cycle Law Scotland said:
“We are delighted to be part of this important road safety campaign because on a daily basis we see the consequences of road traffic collisions between vulnerable road users and vehicles. Anything we can do to help educate road users and promote the legal requirement to #lightup in order to see and be seen has got to be a good thing.”