UK cycling laws

Cycling Laws UK

New Highway Code Updates

There are new guidance (which suggest it is not law) in thew code about routes and spaces shared with people walking, jogging, cycling and riding horses. Cyclist are asked (again not law, just asked)

  • not pass people walking, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle closely or at high speed, particularly from behind
  • slow down when necessary and let people walking know they are there (for example, by ringing their bell)
  • remember that people walking may be deaf, blind or partially sighted
  • not pass a horse on the horse’s left

Positioning in the Road When Cycling

Now if you have spent time on Facebook then there may be some confusion on this guidance. I got the impression that you can cycle in the middle of the road at all times and you can cycle in groups and take up all the road. This is FALSE

Facebook Misinformation Image

Misinformation poster on cycling
Source FB

What The New Guidance Actual says

  1. It looks like you can ride in the centre of the road at any time, this is not strictly TRUE. The actual guidance is ! riding the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowing’s.
  2. Cyclists should ride two abreast. Again not strictly TRUE. Cyclists can ride 2 abreast and it states it can be safer, however, it goes on to say, People cycling are asked to be aware of people driving behind them and allow them to overtake (for example, by moving into single file or stopping) when it’s safe to do so. So be aware we do not have the right to restrict the flow of traffic on the highway. The code also goes onto say, cyclists should be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in groups.
  3. Is correct, the ideal distance motorist should give cyclist when passing is 5ft (1.5 meters) at 30mph and ideally more room when passing them at greater speeds
  4. True and rule 63 of the Highway Code states, Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.(1) There are times when you would not be in the cycle lane, for example if you need to turn right and the cycle lane provides no provision for that. However, if there is an empty cycle lane why wouldn’t you use it.
  5. Partly true, it does advise, People cycling are asked to watch out for people driving intending to turn across their path, as people driving ahead may not be able to see them. So common sense and your own safety is important here. What the simple diagram fails to point out is if the cyclist was to turn left the cyclists have to give way to any pedestrians crossing the road, even if there is not a pedestrian crossing. (link to full changes)

It seems that FB is full of misinformation warriors, the new laws are aimed at improving conditions for cyclists. There is still a long way to go and investment in the cycle infrastructure have been made but we still need more. However, what does not help the cause is people leading you to believe that you own the road you are cycling on. We still need to respect other road users and be aware of our own vulnerabilities whilst cycling. The other aspect is what media car drivers have consumed about the changes in the Highway Code, are they even aware there are changes on the 29th of January 2022.

It seems it is not just Facebook with misinformation but the whole media sensationalising headlines to sell papers and raise viewing figures. Always research your own answer and get collaboration of information from different sources.

Dutch Reach Recommendations

What is Dutch reach, it is a method of opening a car door from the inside using the had that is furthest away from the door. It is called the Dutch reach because in Holland it was implemented 55 years ago.

Where people driving or passengers in a vehicle are able to do so, they should open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using their left hand to open a door on their right-hand side.

This will make them turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them. They’re then less likely to cause injury to:

  • people cycling or riding a motorcycle passing on the road
  • people on the pavement

The Highway Code Rule 64 states: You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.

But in Rule 62 it advises how to behave when cycle tracks are alongside footpaths and pavements.

If the pavement is unsegregated then it says the cyclist should “take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, older or disabled people, and allow them plenty of room”.

And it says the bike user should be prepared to stop or slow down if necessary.

In segregated areas the cyclist must stay on their cycle lane.

Do I have to wear a helmet when I cycle?

There’s no law which states cyclists of any age to wear a helmet.

However, it’s obviously dangerous to cycle without one, and the Highway Code suggests all cyclists wear a safe and well-fitting helmet regardless of what the laws says.

Can I use my mobile phone while cycling?

It’s illegal to drive a motor vehicle while using your phone, but bicycles aren’t motor vehicles, so they’re exempt from this law.

However, texting and cycling is still dangerous, and could see you pulled over for a related “Not Paying Due Care and Attention” offence.

Can I drink and cycle?

Because bikes aren’t “mechanically propelled vehicles”, normal drinking and driving rules don’t apply in the same way to cyclists.

However, riding drunk could still see you slapped with a £2,500 fine, and it’s an offence to cycle “when unfit to ride through drink and drugs.”

What are the other cycling laws I should know about?

  • People assume they are legally required to have a bell if they’re cycling on the roads. However, there are actually no such legal requirements.
  • We recommend that its still useful if you need to alert someone to your presence while out and about.
  • Although it’s not illegal, cyclists should also know that the Highway Code advises against cycling across a zebra crossing.
  • Not a requirement but, we recommend fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
  • Cyclists should dismount and wheel their bikes across any pedestrian crossing, according to the Code. There is no legal minimum age for children to cycle on the road – although parents may be held responsible for their cycling kids.
  • And although cyclists can’t be done for speeding, “cycling furiously” is a fine-able offence under the 1847 Town Police Clauses Act.
  • The crime of “Wanton and Furious Driving” also applies to cyclists, who could land up to two years in prison for causing bodily harm as a result of this offence.
  • You must not carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one
  • You must obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals

Can I ride a bike without a brake in the UK?

The Pedal Cycles (and Use) Regulations 1983 make clear that every pedal bike needs two braking systems. So bikes without front and rear brakes aren’t suitable for UK roads.

The Law and Lights on a Bike

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUSTalso be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85)

Basic Cycling Advice

  • you choose the right size and type of cycle for comfort and safety
  • lights and reflectors are kept clean and in good working order
  • tyres are in good condition and inflated to the pressure shown on the tyre
  • gears are working correctly
  • the chain is properly adjusted and oiled
  • the saddle and handlebars are adjusted to the correct height.

Of course if you ever travel abroad with your bike you need our bike box for air travel.

green bike box by shokbox and a woman n the airport
Can I Cycle In The Middle of The Road

Yes but, The actual guidance is ! riding the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowing’s.

What Is The Dutch Reach

This refers to opening card doors from the inside to make it safer for cyclists. Where people driving or passengers in a vehicle are able to do so, they should open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using their left hand to open a door on their right-hand side.

Can Cyclist Ride 2 Abreast

Yes you can but, Cyclists can ride 2 abreast and it states it can be safer, however, it goes on to say, People cycling are asked to be aware of people driving behind them and allow them to overtake (for example, by moving into single file or stopping) when it’s safe to do so.

As a Cyclist Do I Have To Use The Cycling Lanes

The Highway Code states, Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

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