Rules of the Road that ALL Cyclists should know:
Cycling is on the rise in the UK as increasing numbers of people look for more eco-friendly ways to get around while squeezing in some extra exercise. Unfortunately, not every new cyclist familiarises themselves with the rules of the road, a problem which can lead to fines at best and dangerous accidents at worst. Here are four important yet lesser-known rules of the road for cyclists that shouldn’t be ignored.
1. You should not wear over sized clothing:
Most cyclists are aware that they should be wearing a securely fastened helmet that fits their head correctly. However, not everyone knows that they should also be wearing clothes that fit them properly. The Highway Code states that cyclists should avoid clothes that could get tangled in the bicycle chain or wheel, or that could obscure the bike’s lights. This means you should avoid baggy trousers or trailing skirts, and you should check your coat is not so long that it hangs over your rear lights.
2. You must give pedestrians priority:
In January 2022 the Highway Code was updated to outline the ‘hierarchy of road users’, which determines who has priority on the road at any point. The hierarchy is designed to protect road users who are most vulnerable to accidents by giving the greatest responsibility to drivers who could potentially cause the most harm.
Pedestrians are at the top of the hierarchy, followed by cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists, cars, vans and minibuses, and finally buses and HGVs. This means that pedestrians have the right of way when crossing a road into which other road users are turning. As a cyclist, you must give priority to pedestrians who are set to cross the road at a junction. You must also stop and give way to pedestrians at zebra crossings.
3. You must have appropriate lights on your bike:
Bike lights are essential for helping other road users to spot you at night, and without them you could face a fixed penalty notice of £50. The Highway Code outlines the correct type of lights that must be worn at night. On the front, you must have a powerful white light. This can be set to flash if you prefer, but when your bike is stationary in a lit-up area, you must set the front light to a steady beam. On the rear of your bike you must have a red light.
4. You must not ride on footpaths but you can use bus lanes:
It’s tempting to stick to pavements and footpaths when riding on busy city streets, particularly in areas where cycling infrastructure is lacking. Many cyclists are unaware that this is illegal and punishable by fines ranging between £30 and £60. It’s vital to stick to the roads and use cycle lanes wherever possible.
You should also know that cyclists can legally use bus lanes. This is a handy way for avoiding traffic on busy roads where there isn’t a cycle path. Just be sure to check bus lane signage which features a bicycle symbol to indicate where cyclists are permitted.
Adhere to rules of the road to stay safe
The rules of the road outlined in the Highway Code are designed to protect road users. By respecting them, not only do you avoid fines or prosecution, but you also help to keep yourself and other road users as safe as possible.
Guest Author: Claire Monroe