Did you know that within the Highway Code there is a section that consists of 23 rules that are specific to cyclists, and cycling? Have you ever read the Highway Code? Do you even know what The Highway Code is?
Honesty time… I haven’t read it since studying for my driving test which was more than a few years ago. So I thought I’d review it, and bring you the important information for those of us who prefer two wheels over four. The Highway Code is a set of information, advice, guides and mandatory rules for road users in the United Kingdom. Its objective is to promote road safety and applies to all road users including pedestrians, horse riders, motorcyclists and vehicle drivers, as well as cyclists.
The below is copied directly from The Highway Code which you can read in full here. Just an important word on the terminology used; MUST and MUST NOT is used where it is a legal requirement, and the specific law is referenced. SHOULD is used where it is guidance or a recommendation.
1. Overview (59 to 71)
Clothing. You should wear
- a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened
- appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
- light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
- reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.
At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.
Law RVLR regs 13, 18 & 24
Cycle Routes and Other Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.
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 when passing pedestrians, especially children, older or disabled people, and allow them plenty of room. Always be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary. Take care near road junctions as you may have difficulty seeing other road users, who might not notice you.
Law HA 1835 sect 72
Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 140). 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.
Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129
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 close behind another 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
You MUST NOT
- carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one
- hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer
- ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner
- ride when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine.
Law RTA 1988 sects 24, 26, 28, 29 & 30 as amended by RTA 1991
You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.
Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD reg 10(1)
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
- 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.
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.
Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 36(1)
2. Road junctions (72 to 75)
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. 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.
3. Roundabouts (76 to 78)
Full details about the correct procedure at roundabouts are contained in (see Rules 184 to 190). Roundabouts can be hazardous and should be approached with care.
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.
Give plenty of room to long vehicles on the roundabout as they need more space to manoeuvre. Do not ride in the space they need to get round the roundabout. It may be safer to wait until they have cleared the roundabout.
4. Crossing the road (79 to 82)
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.
Law TSRGD regs 33(2) & 36(1)
Level crossings/Tramways. Take extra care when crossing the tracks. You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘cyclist dismount’ sign is displayed.
Annex 1 – You and your bicycle
Make sure that you feel confident of your ability to ride safely on the road. Be sure that
- 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.
It is recommended that you fit a bell to your cycle.
- ensure your brakes are efficient
- at night, use lit front and rear lights and have a red rear reflector.
Laws PCUR regs 6 & 10 & RVLR reg 18
So there we have it… the sections of The Highway Code that apply to cycling and cyclists. Here at The Canterbury Bike Project we are aware that cycle training can help both children and adults increase their confidence in bike control and hence their safety on the road, especially those adults returning to cycling. It is important to develop the skills needed to cycle safely on today’s busy roads, or to be able to plan a route which takes you on dedicated cycle routes or roads with less traffic.
All cyclists should consider the benefits of undertaking cycle training. For information or if you have any questions, contact us…