Rules and laws to remember for cyclists in the UK!
You should wear
- a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened, there is no legal requirement to do this but it advisory for your safety.
- reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark. appropriate clothes for cycling and avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.
Cycle Routes and Other Facilities.
As a cyclist you can use cycle routes, tracks and cycle marked bus lanes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so.
Some differences in the routes:
Cycle Tracks. These are normally located away from the road, but may occasionally be found alongside footpaths or pavements. Cyclists and pedestrians may be segregated or they may share the same space: unsegregated). When using segregated tracks you MUST keep to the side intended for cyclists as the pedestrian side remains a pavement or footpath. Take care near road junctions as you may have difficulty seeing other road users, who might not notice you.
Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line. When using a cycle lane, keep within the lane when practicable. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.
You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement as it can result in a £500 fine, however it is more usually enforced by way of the Fixed Penalty Notice procedure (FPN) which carries a £30 fine if pleading guilty.
Bus Lanes. Most bus lanes may be used by cyclists as indicated on signs. Watch out for people getting on or off a bus. Be very careful when overtaking a bus or leaving a bus lane as you will be entering a busier traffic flow. Do not pass between the kerb and a bus when it is at a stop.
- keep both hands on the handlebars except when signalling or changing gear
- keep both feet on the pedals
- never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends
- not ride closer than 1.5 meters behind a moving vehicle
- not carry anything which will affect your balance or may get tangled up with your wheels or chain
- be considerate of other road users, particularly blind and partially sighted pedestrians. Let them know you are there when necessary, for example, by ringing your bell if you have one. It is recommended that a bell be fitted.
- look all around before moving away from the kerb, turning or manoeuvring, to make sure it is safe to do so. Give a clear signal to show other road users what you intend to do
- look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, pot-holes and parked vehicles so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened or pedestrians stepping into your path
- be aware of traffic coming up behind you
- take extra care near road humps, narrowings and other traffic calming features
- take care when overtaking a moving vehicle, leave a space of at least the same width as the space you require to ride with ease
You MUST NOT
- carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one: such as a tandem. If you carry a passenger on a bicycle which isn’t so constructed or adapted, you are breaking the law, unless the passenger is under the age of ten and therefore below the age of criminal responsibility. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of £200.
- hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer
- ride when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine.
- ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner
What is Dangerous Cycling?
Anyone who cycles in a way that would cause injury to others or in a manner that would cause road traffic accidents can be committing a dangerous cycling offence. If damage occurs to another’s property due to dangerous cycling this can also be classed under this offence. Dangerous cycling is also cycling in a manner that would be considered dangerous when compared to careful and proficient cyclists. This is a serious offence that can bring fines of up to £2,500.
Is Careless Cycling the Same as Dangerous Cycling?
Careless cycling is a less serious offence than dangerous cycling but can still result in fines of up to £1000. Careless cycling is an offence whereby the cyclist shows undue care and attention to other road users. The size of the fine will come under the court’s discretion and will depend on other factors such as road accidents caused by the cyclist.
You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.
Not Stopping at a Red Light can bring a £30 Fixed Penalty Fine, pleading guilty or a £50 fine.
When parking your cycle
- find a conspicuous location where it can be seen by passers-by
- use cycle stands or other cycle parking facilities wherever possible, check if the cycle stand is securely attached to the ground and not damaged
- do not leave it where it would cause an obstruction or hazard to other road users
- secure it well so that it will not fall over and become an obstruction or hazard.
(Check out latest blog post on parking your bike safely as well)
You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic
On the left. When approaching a junction on the left, watch out for vehicles turning in front of you, out of or into the side road. Just before you turn, check for undertaking cyclists or motorcyclists. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left.
Pay particular attention to long vehicles which need a lot of room to manoeuvre at corners. Be aware that drivers may not see you. Remember,, if you can’t see the mirrors they can’t see you. They may have to move over to the right before turning left. Wait until they have completed the manoeuvre because the rear wheels come very close to the kerb while turning. Do not be tempted to ride in the space between them and the kerb.
On the right. If you are turning right, check the traffic to ensure it is safe, then signal and move to the centre of the road. Wait until there is a safe gap in the oncoming traffic and give a final look before completing the turn. It may be safer to wait on the left until there is a safe gap or to dismount and push your cycle across the road.
Dual carriageways. Remember that traffic on most dual carriageways moves quickly. When crossing wait for a safe gap and cross each carriageway in turn. Take extra care when crossing slip roads.
Full details about the correct procedure at roundabouts are contained in Rules 184 to 190. Roundabouts can be hazardous and should be approached with care. (Check the link in the bottom for the full Highway code.)
You may feel safer walking your cycle round on the pavement or verge. If you decide to ride round keeping to the left-hand lane you should
- be aware that drivers may not easily see you
- take extra care when cycling across exits. You may need to signal right to show you are not leaving the roundabout
- watch out for vehicles crossing your path to leave or join the roundabout.
Do not ride across equestrian crossings, as they are for horse riders only. Do not ride across a pelican, puffin or zebra crossing. Dismount and wheel your cycle across.
Toucan crossings. These are light-controlled crossings which allow cyclists and pedestrians to share crossing space and cross at the same time. They are push-button operated. Pedestrians and cyclists will see the green signal together. Cyclists are permitted to ride across.
Cycle-only crossings. Cycle tracks on opposite sides of the road may be linked by signalled crossings. You may ride across but you MUST NOT cross until the green cycle symbol is showing.
Level crossings/Tramways. Take extra care when crossing the tracks. You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘cyclist dismount’ sign is displayed.