Rules for bicycles, cars and other vehicles in the WW2 blackout
The World War Two blackout of homes and other buildings was to prevent enemy aircraft seeing lights that would suggest a populated area or factory, but lights on vehicles were also affected. Clearly vehicles couldn't travel safely with no lights at all, but they had to be dimmed and directed downwards onto the road ahead.
How bicycle lights were dimmed and masked in the blackout
The poster 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 ground, a regulation white patch had to be fitted at the lower end of the rear mudguard. In this way, the white being vertical, was not visible to an enemy aircraft above.
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 backs mudguards of bicycles. I assumed, at the time, that it was simply fashion.
In addition there was the requirement for good tyres and brakes.
How car lights were dimmed and masked 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 were not be left outside overnight.
The rules specifically for the blackout were quite stringent:
- Use only one headlamp fitted with a slit mask.
- Dimmed side lamp.
- Fog lamp for use in fog only.
- No inside light.
- Dimmed indicator lights.
- Reversing lamp prohibited.
- Reduced rear lights and stop lights.
- In order to be seen more easily from the ground but not from above, the back bumpers and running board to be painted with white matt paint.