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Requirements for bicycles, cars
and other vehicles in the blackout of WW2

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Poster labelling the requirements for dimming bicycle lights in the WW2 blackout

Poster about obeying blackout regulations for a bicycle. Photographed in Brooklands Museum and originally issued by the National Safety First Association. The logo on the lower right is of the Cyclists' Touring Club.

The blackout of the Second World War affected how people could see to get around, particularly if they were travelling in the dark. So bicycle and vehicle lights had to be dimmed. There were posters to show how to do this.

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How bicycle lights were dimmed in the blackout

The poster on the right illustrates and labels the requirements for dimming bicycle lights:

• The upper half of the front lamp glass and the whole of the side or rear panels must be completely obscured.

• The lower half of the reflector must be painted with black matt paint or otherwise rendered ineffective.

• The rear lamp must have only one aperture - no bigger than a one inch circle, the light from which must be clearly visible from 30 yards but not visible at 300 yards.

in order to be seen more easily from the grounds, a regulation white patch had to be fitted on the rear mudguard. As a young child, I knew nothing of these regulations and was seldom out after dark. Nevertheless, I do remember seeing the white patches on the back mudguards of bicycles. I assumed, at the time, that it was simply custom.

In addition there was the requirement for good tyres and brakes.

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How car lights were dimmed in the blackout

For cars - and presumably for other vehicles - there was the requirement of good tyres and brakes, a clean windscreen and for doors to be locked for parking with the ignition key removed. Cars should not be left outside overnight.

Poster labelling the requirements for dimming car lights in the WW2 blackout
Masks for car headlamps used in the WW2 blackout 1 of 2

Masks for car headlamps used in the WW2 blackout 2 of 2

Types of masks for headlamps. Screenshots from wartime films.

The requirements specifically for the blackout were quite stringent:

In order to be seen more easily from the ground:

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