If you wish to use a bicycle on a public road in Ireland, your bicycle must be fitted with certain reflectors and lamps to ensure that other road users will see you. All bicycles used on public roads are required to comply with the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 as amended. This law sets down the type of reflectors and lamps that your bicycle must be fitted with and when you must use your bicycle lamps. Every year in Ireland, many cyclists are hurt, seriously injured or killed as a result of improper lighting on their bicycles.
Under Section 108 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 as amended, a member of An Garda Síochána (Irish police force) may demand your name, address and date of birth if they suspect you have committed any crime or offence. They may also demand your name, address and date of birth if they suspect you have been involved in a collision or caused injury to property or someone else. If you fail to give your name, address or date of birth, or give a false name, address or date of birth, the Garda may retain your bicycle until they are satisfied as to your identity.
All bicycles used on public roads in Ireland must at all times display a rear reflector. A rear reflector means a red reflector that can be plainly seen for a distance of 99 meters (325 feet) to the rear when the headlights of a vehicle shine directly on it. The only exception to this rule is on a child's bicycle where that bicycle is used during the daytime.
During "lighting-up time", that is, the period beginning half an hour after sunset and ending half an hour before sunrise on the following morning, all cyclists are required to have fitted (and make use of) the following lighting on their bicycles:
A front lamp means a lamp that is fitted to a non-mechanically propelled vehicle showing to the front a white or yellow light that is visible for a reasonable distance.
A rear lamp is a lamp that is fitted to the rear of your bicycle and when it is lit, showing a red light that is visible for a reasonable distance.
Under SI 487 of 2009, since 14 December 2009 it is legal to use flashing front and rear lamps.
Lamps do not need to be lit when stopped in traffic or when a person wheels the bicycle on foot as near as is possible to the left-hand edge of the road.
Failure to use proper lighting on a bicycle is an offence. If you are stopped by a member of the Gardai, the Garda may take your name and address, details about your bicycle and the time and date of the offence. You may be given a caution or you may be issued with a summons to appear in court.
Most bicycles sold in shops today are already fitted with appropriate reflectors as standard. You can purchase bicycle lamps and/or reflectors at any reputable bicycle shop.
If you wish to use your bicycle on a public road in Ireland but are unsure about whether your bicycle conforms to the law, you should contact your nearest Garda station for further advice and information.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.