Can you ride your bike at night without lights?


Always wondered if you are allowed to ride at night without any lights? If bike reflectors are enough to keep you safe from motor vehicles? Or if you really need to buy some lights?

In the USA, it is mandatory to ride with lights at night. The rules vary from one state to another but at the minimum, you will need a front light and a red rear reflector. Additional equipment like rear light, pedal reflectors, side reflectors, and high viz jackets can be needed.

In the article, I will give you the keys to understanding the US laws, understand the pros and cons of using lights and/or reflectors, and answer all the common questions people have about being visible at night.

By definition, the night is the period between sunset and sunrise. It is considered to start half an hour after sunset and end half an hour before sunrise.

Is it allowed to ride a bike at night without lights?

By law, it is mandatory to ride a bike at night with at least a front light. You should also have a rear reflector, if not a rear light. In the USA, bike laws are regulated by state and they can vary.

So what are the rules?

Let’s look at a summary of the rules (as of 2021) with an overview of the states for each type of equipment at night.
You will find a guide at the end of this article with the legislation about bicycle lights and equipment per state.

Front lights

They are mandatory in every single state.

Front lights

Rear / Tail lights

Depending on the state, rear lights are not mandatory. Plenty of states mention them in the legislation but only as a recommended add-on to rear reflectors. 3 states do not mention it at all in the code.

Rear red lights

Rear reflectors

Rear reflectors are mandatory in almost all US states. Only two states prefer you use rear red lights rather than rear reflectors (see in green below) and one state (in yellow) recommends them as an addition to rear lights.

Rear reflectors

Pedal or Shoe or Ankle Reflectors

Most US states do not require the use of pedal reflectors. Only 8 states made it mandatory.

Pedal / Shoe / Angle reflectors

Side reflectors

Side reflectors are mandatory in a few states only.

Side reflectors

Is it safe to ride a bike at night?

It is not safe to ride at night without proper equipment. At night, cyclists can be difficult to spot even with reflectors. Good lights are essential to enhance visibility to others. Reflective clothing, often neglected, is also an important piece of equipment to stay safe.

In order to be safe at night, you should know that some colors are more visible than others.

A study from November 2018 about “Nighttime visibility of crossing pedestrians” has shown that wearing white in the dark is not visible enough (see picture below).

If you want to ride safely and be visible well within the braking distance of a car, you should wear high-visibility clothing made of retro-reflective materials. I recommend buying some reflective items from Proviz. They are very efficient, and durable. I have had a Proviz backpack for the last 6 years that I use every day (not just for riding) and the reflective material is still working fine.

6-year old Proviz backpack

What do you need on your bike to ride at night?

By law, you need at least a front light and a rear reflector. But the rules depend on the state you are in. It is best to have a front light, a rear light, side reflectors, pedal reflectors, and wear some type of high visibility clothing to be safe riding at night.

Do you need lights on your bicycle?

Front lights are mandatory at night. Rear lights are mandatory or at least recommended in most states. But for your safety, it is best to have rear lights. As these laws apply only by night, you don’t need to have lights installed during the day.

Are flashing bike lights safer?

Flashing bike lights are really efficient in daylight and low visibility conditions. They make you highly visible which is safer. In night conditions, flashing lights will tell drivers there is something nearby, but it makes it difficult for them to evaluate at which distance you are.

I recommend having a steady light in complete darkness. Or another means of steady light (high visibility jacket, reflector, etc) to put your lights in flashing mode.

When should you use bike lights?

You are required to use your lights between sunset and sunrise. This is generally between 1/2h after sunset and 1/2 before sunrise. But for safety reasons, you should always use your lights when the visibility is low: rainy conditions, foggy conditions, low luminosity, …

It is not compulsory to use them during the day though.

Which lights should you buy to ride at night?

There are different types of lights:

  • Lights to be seen (safety lights) – front lights
  • Lights to see (high-output lighting systems) – front, side and rear lights

‘Lights to be seen’ are usually cheaper. They are less powerful than ‘lights to see’. Indeed, in full darkness, you need a powerful light to be able to spot the potholes and dangers of the road. These types of lights are much brighter.

What should you look out for when buying some lights?

  • Rechargeable battery: practical and environmental friendly
  • LEDs technology: energy efficient and durable
  • Lumens: this is the metric used to asses how much light is falling on the object you want to illuminate.

    How many lumens do you need for a front light?
    100-200 lumens -> ‘urban cycling’ – minimum to be seen
    400-600 lumens -> ‘rural cycling’ – to be seen and to see
    600+ lumens -> trails in the forest – to see

    For a rear light, 200 lumen is already a highly visible light.
  • Run time / Battery life: varies depending the lighting mode. Flashing modes always last longer. Choose

I have been using a Moon Nebula rear light for the past 5 years to commute to work (mainly). This light is very bright (180 lumens). I have had many cyclists asking me for the model seeing how visible I was. And a few times some drivers thanked me for being visible.

I think it’s important to see and be highly visible when you are riding. I would recommend a front light of at least 300 lumens and a rear light of at least 100 lumens.

If you need to see very well and go on trails: I would recommend this superset of lights from Lezyne which includes a 1000 lumens front light.

For commuters and safe riding in the dark, the Lezyne mini drive 400XL front light is a really good compromise. At 400 lumens, small compact with up to 20h battery, it is really a good solution to ride outdoors at night. Then you can just buy a tail light such as the Apace-Super Bright which is visible at 180°, and you are ready to go.

Guide to US States laws about bicycle equipment at night

Below you will find some quotes extracted from the different US States laws regarding cycling equipment for riding at night. The quotes have been extracted in 2021 and might not be up to date in the future. It is provided for reference only.

Alabama

From Alabama’s code:

Section 32-5A-265: Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. 

(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the department which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

Alaska

From Alasaka’s code:

13 AAC 04.320. Headlights. 

c) A bicycle, when ridden at the times when lights are required under 13AAC 04.010(a) (1) & (2), must be equipped with at least one light on the front of the bicycle, emitting white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle under normal atmosphere conditions.
13 AAC 04.325. Taillights. a) A bicycle must be equipped with a taillight which displays a red light visible 500 feet to the rear of a bicycle.

13 AAC 04.335. Reflectors. 

b) Every bicycle, when ridden at a time when lights are required under 13AAC 04.010, must be equipped with a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle and reflective material visible from the sides of the bicycle meeting the visibility requirements of 13AAC 04.010 (a) of this chapter. Nothing in this subsection prohibits the use of additional reflectors or reflective materials upon a bicycle.

Arizona

From Arizona’s code:

§28-817. Bicycle equipment

A. A bicycle that is used at nighttime [ "the period between sunset and sunrise" -- §1-215 ] shall have a lamp on the front that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and a red reflector on the rear of a type that is approved by the department and that is visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when the reflector is directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A bicycle may have a lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear in addition to the red reflector.

Arkansas

From Arkansas’ code:

§27-36-220. Lamps on bicycles

(a) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500') to the front and with a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet (500') to the rear.

(b) A red reflector meeting the requirements of § 27-36-215 may be used in lieu of a rear light..

California

From California’s code:

21201

(d) A bicycle operated during darkness upon a highway, a sidewalk where bicycle operation is not prohibited by the local jurisdiction, or a bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, shall be equipped with all of the following:

(1) A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle.

(2) A red reflector or a solid or flashing red light with a built-in reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.

(3) A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.

(4) A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles that are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors.

The reflectors and reflectorized tires shall be of a type meeting requirements established by the department.

(e) A lamp or lamp combination, emitting a white light, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle, may be used in lieu of the lamp required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (d).

Colorado

From Colorado’s code:

§ 42-4-221. Bicycle and personal mobility device equipment

1. No other provision of this part 2 and no provision of part 3 of this article shall apply to a bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD or to equipment for use on a bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD except those provisions in this article made specifically applicable to such a vehicle.

2. Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front.
Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the department, which shall be visible for six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

3. Every bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD when in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least five hundred feet.

4. A bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by subsections (2) to (4) of this section.

5. Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class B traffic infraction.

Connecticut

From Connecticut‘s code:

Sec. 14-288. 

Lights, reflectors and brakes on bicycles, electric bicycles and electric foot scooters. Whistle emitting devices prohibited. (a) Each bicycle, electric bicycle or electric foot scooter operated upon the public highway, during the times or under the conditions as provided in subsection (a) of section 14-96a, shall display a lighted lamp upon the forward part of such bicycle, electric bicycle or electric foot scooter. Such lamp shall, when lighted, emit a white light which in clear weather shall be visible at a distance of not less than five hundred feet in the direction in which such bicycle, electric bicycle or electric foot scooter is proceeding. Each bicycle, electric bicycle or electric foot scooter shall also, at all times, be equipped with a reflector or reflecting tail light lens, which reflector or lens shall be attached to the rear of such bicycle, electric bicycle or electric foot scooter in such manner as to reflect rays of light thrown upon the same, and such reflector or reflecting tail shall be visible at a distance of not less than six hundred feet from the rear when illuminated by the head lamps of a motor vehicle. Such bicycle, electric bicycle or electric foot scooter shall also be equipped with reflective material so placed and of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides of such bicycle, electric bicycle or electric foot scooter at a distance of not less than six hundred feet when illuminated by the head lamps of a motor vehicle.  

Delaware

From Delaware’s code:

§ 4198F. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.

(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front.

(b) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the Department which shall be visible for 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

(c) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for 600 feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least 500 feet.

(d) A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by subsections (a)-(c) of this section.

Florida

From Florida’s code:

316.2065 Bicycle regulations.—

(7) Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by this section. A law enforcement officer may issue a bicycle safety brochure and a verbal warning to a bicycle rider who violates this subsection or may issue a citation and assess a fine for a pedestrian violation as provided in s. 318.18. The court shall dismiss the charge against a bicycle rider for a first violation of this subsection upon proof of purchase and installation of the proper lighting equipment.

Georgia

From Georgia’s code:

40-6-296. 

(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department of Public Safety which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A light emitting a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. 

Hawaii

From Hawaii’s code:

§291C-147  Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.  

(a)  Any bicycle used from thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front.
    
(b)  Every bicycle shall be equipped with a red reflector at least four square inches in size which shall be visible for six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

(c)  Every bicycle when in use at the time described in subsection (a) shall be equipped with reflective material at least four square inches in size and of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle, or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least five hundred feet.

(d)  A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by the foregoing subsections.

(e)  A lamp meeting the specification of subsection (a) displayed on the left arm or left leg of the bicycle operator shall be considered to meet the requirements of subsection (a).

Idaho

From Idaho’s code:

TITLE 49 MOTOR VEHICLESCHAPTER 7 PEDESTRIANS AND BICYCLES
49-723.  LIGHT AND REFLECTOR REQUIRED AT NIGHT. 
Every bicycle in use at the times described in section 49-903, Idaho Code, shall be operated with a light emitting device visible from a distance of at least five hundred (500) feet to the front, attached to the bicycle or the rider, and with a reflector clearly visible from the rear of the bicycle.

TITLE 49 MOTOR VEHICLESCHAPTER 7 PEDESTRIANS AND BICYCLES
49-724.  ADDITIONAL LIGHTS AUTHORIZED. 
A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required in section 49-723, Idaho Code.

Illinois

From Illinois’s code:

Sec. 11-1507. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. 

    (a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle, except that a lamp emitting a steady or flashing red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to or instead of the red reflector. 

Indiana

From Indiana’s code:

IC 9-21-11-9 Lamps and reflectors

Sec. 9. A bicycle operated on a highway from one-half (1/2) hour after sunset until one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise must be equipped with the following:
(1) A lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred (500) feet to the front.
(2) A lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred (500) feet to the rear or a red reflector visible from a distance of five hundred (500) feet to the rear.

Iowa

From Iowa’s code:

321.397 Lamps on bicycles.

Every bicycle shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light, at the times specified in section 321.384, visible from a distance of at least three hundred feet to the front and with a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of three hundred feet to the rear; except that a red reflector may be used in lieu of a rear light. 

A peace officer riding a police bicycle is not required to use either front or rear lamps if duty so requires.

Kansas

From Kansas’ code:

8-1592. Lamps, brakes and other equipment on bicycles. 

(a) Every bicycle when in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and either: (1) A red reflector on the rear which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle; (2) a lamp on the rear that shall emit a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear; or (3) the operator of such bicycle shall be wearing a device that emits a red or amber light that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear.

(b) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

(c) No person shall sell a pedal for use on a bicycle, unless such pedal is equipped with a reflector which is visible from the front and rear of the bicycle to which it is attached during darkness from a distance of 200 feet, and no person shall sell a new bicycle, unless it is equipped with pedals meeting the requirements of this subsection.

Lousiana

From Louisiana’s code:

RS 329.1 - Bicycles; front lamps; rear lamps; side and rear reflectors

A. Any bicycle when in use at the times specified in R.S. 32:301 shall be equipped with the following:
(1) A lamp mounted on the front that shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front. A generator-powered lamp that emits light only when the bicycle is moving may be used to meet this requirement.
(2) A lamp mounted on the rear that shall emit either a flashing or steady red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear.
(3) A red reflector mounted on the rear and a reflector on each side facing outward at a right angle to the bicycle frame that shall be visible from all distances from one hundred feet to six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

B. A bicycle or its operator may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by Subsection A of this Section, except that red lamps and red reflectors shall not be used on the front of the bicycle and white lamps and white reflectors shall not be used on the rear of the bicycle.

C. A lamp or lamps worn by the operator of a bicycle shall comply with the requirements of Subsection A of this Section, if the lamp or lamps can be seen at the distances specified.

D. No person shall operate any bicycle on a state highway, parish road, or city street at a time specified in R.S. 32:301 unless such bicycle is equipped with lamps and reflectors to comply with Subsection A of this Section. Whoever violates this Section shall be subject to a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars which shall include all costs of court.

E. No retailer, distributor, wholesaler, or manufacturer in this state shall sell or offer for sale any bicycle unless such bicycle is equipped with lamps and reflectors as required by Subsection A of this Section.

F. This Section shall not apply to operators of bicycles or bicycles while the operator or bicycle is engaged in sanctioned competition races or to bicycles while utilized by peace officers in furtherance of their official duties.

Kentucky

From Kentucky’s code:

601 KAR 14:020. Bicycle safety standards.

Section 2. Lights and Reflectors. 

(1) A bicycle operated on a highway during the hours or atmospheric conditions described in KRS 189.030(1) shall display at least one (1) front light on either the bicycle or the bicyclist that is visible for 500 feet and capable of revealing substantial objects at least fifty (50) feet in front of the bicycle.

(2) A bicycle if operated on a highway or highway shoulder shall display on either the bicy- cle or the bicyclist:
(a) One (1) red reflector or red light visible for at least 100 feet from the rear of the bicycle; and
(b) One (1) red light or a flashing red light visible from the rear of the bicycle for at least 500 feet during the hours or atmospheric conditions described in KRS 189.030(1).

Maine

From Maine’s code:

§2084. Bicycles and scooters

1.  Night equipment.  A bicycle, scooter or motorized bicycle or tricycle, when in use in the nighttime, must have:   
A. Lighted a front light that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 200 feet to the front;   [PL 2003, c. 510, Pt. A, §25 (RPR).]
B. A red or amber light or reflector to the rear that is visible at least 200 feet to the rear; and   [PL 2003, c. 510, Pt. A, §25 (RPR).]
C. Reflector material on the pedals, unless the bicyclist is wearing reflective material on the feet or ankles.   [PL 2003, c. 510, Pt. A, §25 (RPR).]
A bicyclist may also use optional supplementary reflectors, lights or reflective or lighted safety equipment.   

Maryland

From Maryland’s code:

Section 21-1207 - Lamps and Other Equipment on Bicycles and Motor Scooters
Universal Citation: MD. Transportation Code Ann. § 21-1207 (2020)

    (a)    (1)    If a bicycle or a motor scooter is used on a highway at any time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet, the bicycle or motor scooter shall be equipped:
            (i)    On the front, with a lamp that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front; and
            (ii)    On the rear, with a red reflector of a type approved by the Administration and visible from all distances from 600 feet to 100 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.
        (2)    A bicycle or bicyclist may be equipped with a functioning lamp that acts as a reflector and emits a red light or a flashing amber light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear instead of or in addition to the red reflector required by paragraph (1) of this subsection.
    (b)    Subject to subsection (c) of this section, a person may operate a bicycle or a motor scooter that is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet.
    (c)    A bicycle or motor scooter may not be equipped with nor may any person use on a bicycle any siren or whistle.
    (d)    Every bicycle and motor scooter shall be equipped with a braking system capable of stopping from a speed of 10 miles per hour within 15 feet on dry, level, clean pavement.

Massachusetts

From Massachusetts’ code:

Section 11B: Bicycles; operation and equipment; regulations; federal product safety standards, effect; races; violations; penalties

(8) During the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, the operator shall display to the front of his bicycle a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet, and to the rear of said bicycle either a lamp emitting a red light, or a red reflector visible for not less than six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A generator powered lamp which emits light only when the bicycle is moving shall meet the requirements of this clause. 

(9) During the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, the operator shall display on each pedal of his bicycle a reflector, or around each of his ankles reflective material visible from the front and rear for a distance of six hundred feet, and reflectors or reflective material, either on said bicycle or on the person of the operator, visible on each side for a distance of six hundred feet, when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps of a motor vehicle. This clause shall not prohibit a bicycle or its operator to be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by clauses (8) and (9).

Michigan

From Michigan’s code:

257.662 Bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric skateboard, or commercial quadricycle; equipment; violation as civil infraction.

Sec. 662.  
(1) A bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric skateboard, or commercial quadricycle being operated on a roadway between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.  

(2) A bicycle shall be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.  

(3) An electric personal assistive mobility device, electric skateboard, or commercial quadricycle shall enable the operator to bring it to a controlled stop.  

(4) A person shall not sell, offer for sale, or deliver for sale in this state a bicycle or a pedal for use on a bicycle, either of which was manufactured after January 1, 1976, unless it is equipped with a type of reflex reflector located on the front and rear surfaces of the pedal. The reflector elements may be either integral with the construction of the pedal or mechanically attached, but shall be sufficiently recessed from the edge of the pedal, or of the reflector housing, to prevent contact of the reflector element with a flat surface placed in contact with the edge of the pedal. The pedal reflectors shall be visible from the front and rear of the bicycle during the nighttime from a distance of 200 feet when directly exposed to the lower beam head lamps of a motor vehicle.  

(5) A person shall not sell, offer for sale, or deliver for sale in this state a bicycle manufactured after January 1, 1976 or an electric personal assistive mobility device unless it is equipped with either tires that have reflective sidewalls or with wide-angle prismatic spoke reflectors. If the bicycle or the electric personal assistive mobility device is manufactured with reflective sidewalls, the reflective portion of the sidewall shall form a continuous circle on the sidewall, and may not be removed from the tire without removal of tire material. If the bicycle is equipped with wide-angle prismatic spoke reflectors, the reflectors of the front wheel shall be essentially colorless or amber, and the reflectors on the rear wheel shall be essentially colorless or red. Reflective sidewalls or spoke reflectors shall cause the bicycle to be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet when viewed under lawful low beam motor vehicle head lamps under normal atmospheric conditions.  

(6) A person who violates subsection (1) or (2) is responsible for a civil infraction.

Minnesota

From Minnesota’s code:

169.222 OPERATION OF BICYCLE.
Subd. 6.Bicycle equipment.

(a) No person shall operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle or its operator is equipped with (1) a lamp which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front; and (2) a red reflector of a type approved by the Department of Public Safety which is visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A bicycle equipped with lamps that are visible from a distance of at least 500 feet from both the front and the rear is deemed to fully comply with this paragraph.

(b) No person may operate a bicycle at any time when there is not sufficient light to render persons and vehicles on the highway clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet ahead unless the bicycle or its operator is equipped with reflective surfaces that shall be visible during the hours of darkness from 600 feet when viewed in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. The reflective surfaces shall include reflective materials on each side of each pedal to indicate their presence from the front or the rear and with a minimum of 20 square inches of reflective material on each side of the bicycle or its operator. Any bicycle equipped with side reflectors as required by regulations for new bicycles prescribed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission shall be considered to meet the requirements for side reflectorization contained in this subdivision.

(c) A bicycle may be equipped with a front lamp that emits a white flashing signal, or a rear lamp that emits a red flashing signal, or both.

Mississippi

From Mississippi’s code:

Section 63-7-13 Requirements as to lighting equipment. 

(4) Lamps on bicycles. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a lighted white lamp on the front thereof visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of at least five hundred feet in front of such bicycle and shall also be equipped with a reflex mirror reflector or lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible under like conditions from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the rear of such bicycle.

Missouri

From Missouri‘s code:

307.185. Lights and reflectors, when required — standards to be met. — 

Every bicycle and motorized bicycle when in use on a street or highway during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with the following:
(1) A front-facing lamp on the front or carried by the rider which shall emit a white light visible at night under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway at five hundred feet;
(2) A rear-facing red reflector, at least two square inches in reflective surface area, or a rear-facing red lamp, on the rear which shall be visible at night under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway when viewed by a vehicle driver under the lower beams of vehicle headlights at six hundred feet;
(3) Reflective material and/or lights on any part of the bicyclist's pedals, crank arms, shoes or lower leg, visible from the front and the rear at night under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway when viewed by a vehicle driver under the lawful lower beams of vehicle headlights at two hundred feet; and
(4) Reflective material and/or lights visible on each side of the bicycle or bicyclist and visible at night under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway when viewed by a vehicle driver under the lawful lower beams of vehicle headlights at three hundred feet. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to motorized bicycles which comply with National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration regulations relating to reflectors on motorized bicycles.

Montana

From Montana’s code:

61-8-607. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles and mopeds. 

(1) A bicycle or moped when in use at dawn, dusk, or nighttime must be equipped with: 

(a) a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front. In lieu of a lamp affixed to the bicycle or moped, a bicyclist may use a lamp with equal intensity and visibility affixed to the cyclist's helmet and facing forward. 
(b) facing the rear, either a lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear or a red reflector visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear when illuminated by low-beam motor vehicle headlamps; and 
(c) reflective material large and reflective enough to be visible from the left and right sides from a distance of at least 500 feet when illuminated by low-beam motor vehicle headlamps. 

(2) A bicycle or moped must be equipped with a brake enabling the operator to stop the bicycle or moped within no more than 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles an hour on dry, level, clean pavement.

Nebraska

From Nebraska’s code:

60-6,318. Equipment on bicycles; lights; brakes.

(1) When in use at nighttime, a bicycle shall be equipped with a light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front on a clear night and with a red reflector on the rear of a type which is approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles or a local authority and which is visible on a clear night from all distances between one hundred feet and six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to such red reflector.

Nevada

From Nevada’s code:

NRS 484B.783 - Lamps, reflectors and brakes required on bicycles, electric bicycles and electric scooters.

1. Every bicycle, electric bicycle or electric scooter when in use at night must be equipped with:
(a) A lamp on the front which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front;
(b) A red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department which must be visible from 50 feet to 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle; and
(c) Reflective material of a sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides of the bicycle for 600 feet when directly in front of the lawful lower beams of the headlamps of a motor vehicle, or in lieu of such material, a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least 500 feet.

New Hampshire

From New Hampshire’s code:

265:144 Riding on Bicycles. – 
XII. A bicyclist shall wear at least one item of reflective outerwear apparel, such as a reflective vest, jacket, or helmet strip, during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise. 

266:86 Headlamp Required at Night. 

– Every bicycle operated upon any way during darkness shall be equipped with a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet in front of the bicycle and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the director, which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of the lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from 300 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. Every moped driven upon any way during darkness shall be equipped with one headlamp which meets the specifications for headlamps established in RSA 266:31. Taillamps and stop lamps are required on mopeds.

New Jersey

From New Jersey’s code:

39:4-10. Lights and reflectors on bicycles 

Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front, and with a lamp on the rear which shall emit a red light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the rear. In addition to the red lamp, a red reflector may be mounted on the rear, of a type approved by the division which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

New Mexico

From New Mexico’s code:

66-3-707. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.

•	A. Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the division which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

•	B. No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

•	C. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the brake wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

New York

From New York’s code:

§ 1236 Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. 

(a) Every bicycle when
in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible during hours of darkness from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red or amber light visible to the rear for three hundred feet. Effective July first, nineteen hundred seventy-six, at least one of these lights shall be visible for two hundred feet from each side.

(d) Every new bicycle shall be equipped with reflective tires or, alternately, a reflex reflector mounted on the spokes of each wheel, said tires and reflectors to be of types approved by the commissioner. The reflex reflector mounted on the front wheel shall be colorless or amber, and the reflex reflector mounted on the rear wheel shall be colorless or red.

(e) Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with reflective devices or material meeting the standards established by rules and regulations promulgated by the commissioner; provided, however, that such standards shall not be inconsistent with or otherwise conflict with the requirements of subdivisions (a) and (d) of this section.

North Carolina

From North Carolina’s code:

§ 20-129. Required lighting equipment of vehicles

(e) Lamps on Bicycles. – Every bicycle shall be equipped with a reflex mirror on the rear and both of the following when operated at night on any public street, public vehicular area, or public greenway:
1.	(1)  A lighted lamp on the front thereof, visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of at least 300 feet in front of such bicycle.
2.	(2)  A lamp on the rear, exhibiting a red light visible under like conditions from a distance of at least 300 feet to the rear of such bicycle, or the operator must wear clothing or a vest that is bright and visible from a distance of at least 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle.

North Dakota

From North Dakota’s code:

39-10.1-07. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.

1.	Every bicycle when in use at nighttime must be equipped with a lamp on the front which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet [152.4 meters] to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the department. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet [152.4 meters] to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

Ohio

From Ohio’s code:

§ 4511.56. Bicycle signal devices.

A) Every bicycle or electric bicycle when in use at the times specified in section 4513.03 of the Revised Code (between sunset and sunrise or when visibility is less than 1000 feet), shall be equipped with the following:
(1) A lamp mounted on the front of either the bicycle or electric bicycle or the operator that shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and three hundred feet to the sides. A generator-powered lamp that emits light only when the bicycle is moving may be used to meet this requirement.
(2) A red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from all distances from one hundred feet to six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle;
(3) A lamp emitting either flashing or steady red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear shall be used in addition to the red reflector. If the red lamp performs as a reflector in that it is visible as specified in division (A)(2) of this section, the red lamp may serve as the reflector and a separate reflector is not required.
(B) Additional lamps and reflectors may be used in addition to those required under division (A) of this section, except that red lamps and red reflectors shall not be used on the front of the bicycle or electric bicycle and white lamps and white reflectors shall not be used on the rear of the bicycle or electric bicycle.

Oklahoma

From Oklahoma’s code:

§47-12-702. Front lamp.

Every bicycle in use at the times described in subsection B of Section 12-201 of this title shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least one thousand (1,000) feet to the front. This section shall not apply to a street or highway with a speed limit of twenty-five (25) miles per hour or less.

§47-12-703. Rear lamp.

Every bicycle in use at the times described in subsection B of Section 12-201 of this title shall be equipped with a lamp on the rear emitting a red light visible from a distance of at least one thousand (1,000) feet to the rear. This section shall not apply to a street or highway with a speed limit of twenty-five (25) miles per hour or less


§47-12-704. Reflector.

Every bicycle shall be equipped with a red reflector which shall be visible for six hundred (600) feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle

§47-12-706. Reflective material.

Every bicycle when in use at the times described in subsection B of Section 12-201 of this title shall be equipped with reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for six hundred (600) feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.


§47-12-707. Additional lights and reflectors.

A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by the foregoing sections; provided, such lights or reflectors shall comply with the provisions and limitations of Article II of Chapter 12 of this title.

Oregon

From Oregon’s code:

ORS 815.280 
Violation of bicycle equipment requirements 

At the times described in the following, a bicycle or its rider must be equipped with lighting equipment that meets the described requirements:
(A)
The lighting equipment must be used during limited visibility conditions.
(B)
The lighting equipment must show a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle.
(C)
The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.

Pennsylvania

From Pennsylvania’s code:

Front Lamp and Reflectors

If you use your bike between sunset and sunrise, it must be equipped with a front lamp and rear and side reflectors that are visible from at least 500 feet. This is both to help other motorists see you and also to illuminate your path.

Rhode Island

From Rhode Island’s code:

§ 31-19-10.   Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.

(a) Front lamp.   Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500′) to the front.

(b) Rear reflector.   Every bicycle shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the division of motor vehicles which shall be visible for six hundred feet (600′) to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet (500′) to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

(c) Pedal reflectors.   No person shall sell a new bicycle or a pedal for use on a bicycle that is not equipped with a reflector of a type approved by the department, on each pedal of the bicycle which is visible from the front and rear of the bicycle during darkness from a distance of two hundred feet (200′) nor shall any person operate a bicycle without reflective pedals.

(f) Side reflectors.   Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a minimum of twenty (20) square inches on each side of the bicycle of white reflective material on the wheels or tires to indicate as nearly as possible the continuous circular shape and size of the wheels or tires of each bicycle. All reflective materials used in compliance with this statute shall be visible during the hours of darkness from five hundred feet (500′) when viewed under lawful low beam headlamps under normal atmospheric conditions on a straight, level, unlighted roadway, and shall meet the requirements as prescribed by the division of motor vehicles.

South Carolina

From South Carolina’s code:

SECTION 56-5-3470. This section describes lights and reflector use on bicycle.

A bicycle when in use at nighttime must be equipped with a lamp on the front which must emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear that must be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of the lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector

South Dakota

From South Dakota’s code:

32-17-25. Bicycle lamps--Visibility and color--Violation as petty offense.

Every bicycle shall be equipped with a lighted lamp on the front thereof visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of at least three hundred feet in front of such bicycle and shall also be equipped with a reflex mirror or lamp on the rear exhibiting a yellow or red light visible under like conditions from a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such bicycle. A violation of this section is a petty offense.

Tennessee

From Tennessee’s code:

§ 55-8-177. Bicycle lamps and brakes -- Penalties.


•	(a) Every bicycle, when in use at nighttime, shall be equipped with a lamp on the front, which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500′) to the front, and either a red reflector or a lamp emitting a red light, which shall be visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500′) to the rear, when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.
•	(b) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake or brakes which will enable its driver to stop the bicycle within twenty-five feet (25′) from a speed of ten miles per hour (10 mph) on dry, level, clean pavement.
•	(c) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Texas

From Texas’s code:

Sec. 551.104. SAFETY EQUIPMENT. 

(a) A person may not operate a bicycle unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
(b) A person may not operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with:
(1) a lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle; and
(2) on the rear of the bicycle:
(A) a red reflector that is:
(i) of a type approved by the department; and
(ii) visible when directly in front of lawful upper beams of motor vehicle headlamps from all distances from 50 to 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle; or
(B) a lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle.

Utah

From Utah’s code:

41-6a-1114. Bicycles -- Lamps and reflective material required.

(1) A bicycle in use or a person operating a bicycle at the times described in Section 41-6a-1603 shall be equipped with a: 
(a) forward facing lamp that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front; and 
(b) 
   (i) rear facing red reflector that is visible for 500 feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle; or 
   (ii) rear facing red lamp that is designed for use on a bicycle and that emits flashing or  nonflashing light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear. 

(2) A bicycle when in use or a person operating a bicycle at the times described in Section 41-6a-1603 shall be equipped with: 
(a) reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for 500 feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle; or 
(b) a lamp that emits light visible from both sides from a distance of at least 500 feet. 

(3) A bicycle or a person operating a bicycle may be equipped with lamps or reflectors in addition to those required by Subsections (1) and (2).

Vermont

From Vermont’s code:

Title 23 : Motor Vehicles
Chapter 013 : Operation Of Vehicles
Subchapter 012 : Operation Of Bicycles, Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices, And Play Vehicles

§ 1141. Equipment on bicycles

(a) A person shall not operate a bicycle at nighttime from one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise unless the bicycle or the bicyclist is equipped with a lamp on the front which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front. In addition, bicyclists shall operate during these hours with either a lamp on the rear of the bicycle or bicyclist that emits a flashing or steady red light visible at least 300 feet to the rear, or with reflective, rear-facing material or reflectors, or both, with a surface area totaling at least 20 square inches on the bicycle or bicyclist and visible at least 300 feet to the rear.

(b) No person may equip a bicycle with any siren or whistle, or any device simulating a siren of an authorized emergency vehicle, nor may he or she operate a bicycle so equipped.

(c) No person may operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a brake that will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

Virginia

From Virginia’s code:

Every bicycle ridden between sunset and sunrise must have at least one white headlamp with the light being visible at least 500 feet to the front. The bicycle must have a red reflector on the rear visible at least 600 feet to the rear. On roads posted with speed limit of 35 mph or greater, the bicyclist must additionally be equipped with at least one red taillight visible from 500 feet to the rear. Taillights may be steady or blinking, are allowed under all conditions, and may be attached to the cycle or rider.
Bicycles ridden on highways must have brakes which will skid the wheels on dry, level, clean pavement.

Washington

From Washington’s code:

RCW  46.61.780
Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.


(1) Every bicycle when in use during the hours of darkness as defined in RCW  46.37.020 shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the state patrol which shall be visible from all distances up to six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. A light-emitting diode flashing taillight visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may also be used in addition to the red reflector.

(2) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

West Virginia

From West Virginia’s code:

§17C-11-7. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.

(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the department which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

(b) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level and clean pavement.

Wisconsin

From Wisconsin’s code:

347.489 Lamps and other equipment on bicycles and other vehicles and devices.

(1) No person may operate a bicycle, motor bicycle, personal delivery device, electric scooter, or electric personal assistive mobility device upon a highway, sidewalk, bicycle lane, or bicycle way during hours of darkness unless the bicycle, motor bicycle, personal delivery device, electric scooter, or electric personal assistive mobility device is equipped with or, with respect to a bicycle or motor bicycle, the operator is wearing, a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle, motor bicycle, personal delivery device, electric scooter, or electric personal assistive mobility device. A bicycle, motor bicycle, personal delivery device, electric scooter, or electric personal assistive mobility device shall also be equipped with a red reflector that has a diameter of at least 2 inches of surface area or, with respect to an electric scooter or an electric personal assistive mobility device, that is a strip of reflective tape that has at least 2 square inches of surface area, on the rear so mounted and maintained as to be visible from all distances from 50 to 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a steady or flashing red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in lieu of the red reflector.

Wyoming

From Wyoming’s code:

31-5-706. Lamps and other equipment.

(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred (500) feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the highway department which shall be visible from six hundred (600) feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred (500) feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.


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