The Lawrence Journal-World ran a story discussing bicycle lighting (Shedding light on bicycle safety), which attracted a follow-up letter to the editor that attempted to clarify Kansas statutes related to bicycle lighting requirements:
The article stated that a biker “can go with one or more of three general light options.”
However, the fact is that bikers do not have “options.” Rather, they must meet certain requirements. These requirements are specified in Kansas Statute 8-1592, which requires that bikers have a lamp on the front of a bike, a lamp or reflector on the back of a bike, and reflectors on the pedals of a bike.
That’s almost right. Here’s the actual text of the statute:
8-1592. Lamps, brakes 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 (500) feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the secretary of transportation which shall be visible from all distances from one hundred (100) feet to 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.
(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 of a type approved by the secretary of transportation which is visible from the front and rear of the bicycle to which it is attached during darkness from a distance of two hundred (200) feet, and no person shall sell a new bicycle, unless it is equipped with pedals meeting the requirements of this subsection.
The key difference being that cyclists are not required to ride with reflectors on their pedals — the statute only applies to the sale of pedals, not their use.
Most clipless pedals don’t have reflectors; I’m not sure how bike shops are allowed to sell these in Kansas, but they certainly do.
That said, using reflectors on your pedals, or using reflective leg bands around your ankles, is certainly a good idea when riding in low-light situations.
Personally, I purchased a package of self-adhesive reflective decals from my local auto parts store, cut it up, and applied bits to my bike and helmet (white facing forward, red towards the rear). I also use a reflective slow-speed vehicle triangle attached to my bike bag, day and night.
A far as I’m concerned, I’d rather have too much reflective material than too little. It weighs almost nothing, and is potentially life-saving. Plus, the nerd factor is off the charts.