Daylight saving

Would cyclists benefit from an extra hour of evening daylight?

Daylight saving

Headline Message 
  • Currently, many hours of daylight are ‘lost’ in the morning before most people get up. Aligning UK time with Central European Time (CET) would allow more light for leisure activities in the evening and reduce the need for lighting later in the day.
  • It is possible that the shift would also result in fewer road crashes overall. Although darker winter mornings could result in more casualties at peak time, this could well be offset by a cut in casualties during the evening. This is because the casualty rate during the evening peak is higher than that of the morning peak, so extra daylight later in the day should make more of a difference. Slipping on ice, however, might become more of a risk for cycle-commuters in the morning. 

Note: This briefing is about proposals to shift the UK to Central European Time (CET), also known as ‘single/double summer time’. This would mean that in summer, clocks would be set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) +2 hours and in winter to GMT+1 hour. The clocks would still go forward in spring and back in autumn, but there would be one extra hour of daylight in the evening, and one less in the morning.

Policy Key Facts 

Research suggests that Single Double British Summertime (SDST)/CET would:

  • Save 80 lives each year and 212 serious injuries by making the roads safer;
  • Bring an average increase of 28% more accessible daylight during waking hours, giving people more opportunity to exercise;
  • Cut at least 447,000 tonnes of CO2 pollution;
  • Extend the tourist season that depends on daylight hours by two months; boost overall tourism earnings by c£3bn; and create 60,000–80,000 jobs in the sector. 
Cycling UK View 
  • Cycling UK supports the idea of researching the effect of shifting time zones to align with many of our European neighbours. Such changes may bring considerable economic and environmental benefits and contribute to improved road safety.
  • In addition to the possible disadvantages of the shift for certain areas of the country and certain professions, there may be specific road safety effects on cyclists, such as the potential for greater exposure to icy conditions on winter mornings. These must be taken into account in the research.
  • Cycling UK's final view on daylight saving will be subject to the findings of any official research.
Shifting the UK’s clocks to give one extra hour of daylight in the evening and one less in the morning would affect everyone. Research should help decide if cyclists would benefit.