My mate has a similar flashing bicycle beacon on his pannier frame which does not have a pannier on it as he filters.

I don’t want to sound judgemental but one of the club’s busybodies has said he doesn’t want the lights on the bike or rucksack while we ride as a club as they are ‘illegal’ and ‘outside the code of conduct we apply’.

I am not that bothered; I will take the light off my rucksack because I only use it on foggy or misty mornings and I like a quiet life. However, I don’t want to break the law. Is the busybody right? My mate gave a blunter answer to the busybody – the second word was “off”.


A little learning in an officious busybody is not only dangerous but bloody irritating. Sadly, I cannot give both of you an equally satisfying answer.

As far as you are concerned, your flashing beacon on your rucksack is wholly legal. In fact, I have exactly the same thing on my ruckie. It is especially useful during winter trail riding as my tail light is often encased in filth and having a flashing beacon on your back if you are stopped by the side of the road is a thing of real safety. Keep using it.

However, your mate is, I am afraid, technically committing an offence but only by flashing. Ahem, let me rephrase that with an explanation.

The difference is your light is not affixed to a vehicle but affixed to a pack, affixed to a human, sat on a motorcycle. The act of clipping the light onto his pannier frame means your mate cannot have the light flashing.

A light affixed to a vehicle (save indicators and hazard lights) must emit a steady beam unless the light is hand operated by a switch. Fixing a light to a vehicle brings it into the regulations. A backpack or clothing does not, and in English and Welsh law, unless something is unlawful, it is lawful. There are no regulations as to rucksack lights. The regulations could have been drafted to make the use of a flashing light whilst on a vehicle unlawful but they did not. It is the fixing to a vehicle that draws the light into the regulations.

Your system is both wholly lawful but also more efficient at drawing attention to you. The human eye is drawn to movement – or in this case, flashing. Your rucksack is also in the direct line of sight of the most inattentive driver and will not be obscured by road dirt.

Your photos show your mate has his light on the lowest part of his pannier frame, which is not on the eyeline, but if he does not ride with a rucksack and he wants to keep this system, then he just needs to leave the flasher cycle off and he will be breaking no laws.

Andrew Dalton

RiDE Magazine February 2023