Safe Routes Scoop

Safety First:

Walking and Bicycling at Night

If You Bike at Night:

There are both safety and legal considerations when riding a bike at night:

  • Know the law โ€“ Under NJ law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-10), a red light must be mounted on the rear of the bike, a white light on the front, and both lights must be visible at a minimum of 500 feet.
  • Use adequate lighting โ€“ Basic battery-operated LED light sets can be found at prices beginning at $16-$25, with advanced lighting systems costing considerably more. The extra cost of higher end systems is primarily for a more powerful headlight, with the most advanced systems as bright as a motorcycle headlight. In well-lit locations, however, the more basic LED systems usually suffice, because it is more critical to be seen by drivers than producing enough light to see the road surface. When deciding on bicycle lights, purchase the best and most effective lights that you can afford to suit your safety needs and travel environment
  • Use reflectors โ€“ Equip your bicycle with reflectors. It is suggested that you use a red rear mounted reflector in conjunction with the head and tail lights mandate under New Jersey Law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-10). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has required that all new bicycles, at the point of sale, be installed with a complete complement of

reflectors. This includes a white or clear reflector in the front, a red one on the rear, amber pedal reflectors and reflectors on the wheels. Wheels can have either clear/white reflectors on both, or an amber reflector on the front and a red reflector on the rear. Tires with reflective sidewalls can also be an effective way to fulfill the CPSC requirements.


It must be emphasized that the CPSC reflector requirement for new bicycles does not meet the minimum requirements for legal nighttime riding in New Jersey. However, the CPSC requirements are effective at augmenting the state requirements, most notably the wheel reflectors that greatly increase the recognition of bicycles by motorists from the sides, an angle not well-illuminated by either tail lights or headlights.


For more information on walking and biking at night, refer to following resources:

N.J.S.A.39:4-10. Lights and reflectors on bicycles


Consumer Product Safety Commission (Requirements for Bicycles: Provision ยง1512.16)


New Jersey Division of Law and Public Safety: Pedestrians


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