Not everybody has the time or inclination to read the Highway Code. Let’s face it, it’s hardly as exciting as reading the newest Game of Thrones book. But it is an interesting read for the most part and I highly recommend it, not only because as a cyclists you have a responsibility to other road users to understand the rules of the road, but also because being informed will provide you with ammunition to be able to cycle with confidence because you know what your rights are.
“The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, particularly children, older or disabled people, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. It is important that all road users are aware of the Code and are considerate towards each other. This applies to pedestrians as much as to drivers and riders.
Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’. In addition, the rule includes an abbreviated reference to the legislation which creates the offence. An explanation of the abbreviations can be found in ‘The road user and the law’.”
I have combed the code with the help of my Kindle, and collected the clauses that are relevant to cyclists, whether that be as law directly addressing us, or regarding how others should behave when cyclists are around…..
Rules for Pedestrians (1-35)
When it is safe, go straight across the road – do not run. Keep looking and listening for traffic while you cross, in case there is any traffic you did not see, or in case other traffic appears suddenly. Look out for cyclists and motorcyclists travelling between lanes of traffic.
Bus and cycle lanes. Take care when crossing these lanes as traffic may be moving faster than in the other lanes, or against the flow of traffic.
Routes shared with cyclists. Some cycle tracks run alongside footpaths or pavements, using a segregating feature to separate cyclists from people on foot. Segregated routes may also incorporate short lengths of tactile paving to help visually impaired people stay ont he correct side. On the pedestrian side this will comprise a series of flat-topped bars running across the direction of travel (ladder pattern). On the cyclist side the same bars are orientated in the direction of travel (tramline pattern). Not all routes which are shared with cyclists are segregated. Take extra care when this is so (see Rule 62).
Toucan crossings are light-controlled crossings which allow cyclists and pedestrians to share the 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.
Rules for Cyclists (59-82)
These rules are in addition to those in the following sections, which apply to all vehicles (except the motorway section). See also ‘You and your bicycle’.
You should wear
* a cycle helmet which conforms to the current regulations, is the correct size and is 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.
Help yourself to be seen
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 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 a 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 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 bu 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 lane. 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 rising 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 if 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 (see ‘Signals to other road users’)
* 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 (see Rules 162-169).
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 the RTA 1991]
You MUST obey all the 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 and 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 he stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advances stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic (see Rule 178).
[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 36(1)]
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 the 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 until there is a safe gap or to dismount and push your cycle across the road.
You may feel safer walking your cycle round 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.
Crossing the road
Do not ride across equestrian crossing, 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 signaled crossings. You may ride across but you MUST NOT cross until the green cycle symbol is showing.
[Law TSRGD regs 33(2) & 36(1)]
This section should be read by all drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders. The rules in The Highway Code do not give you the right of way in any circumstance, but they advise you when you should give way to others. Always give way if it can help to avoid an incident.
Lighting requirements (113-116)
*use headlights at night […] Night (the hours of darkness) is defined a the period between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise).
You MUST NOT
* use any lights in a way which would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
Cycle lanes. These are shown by road markings and signs. You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable.
You MUST NOT park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply.
[Law RTRA sects 5 & 8]
One-way streets. Traffic MUST travel in the direction indicated by signs. Buses and/or cycles may have a contraflow lane. Choose the correct lane for your exit as soon as you can. Do not change lanes suddenly. Unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise, you should use
* the left-hand lane when going left.
* the right-hand lane when going right.
* the most appropriate lane when going straight ahead. Remember – traffic could be passing on both sides.
[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & RTRA sects 5 & 8]
General Advice 9144-1580
You MUST NOT
* drive without due care and attention
* drive without reasonable consideration for other road users
[Law RTA 1988 sects 2 & 3 as amended by RTA 1991]
Adapt your driving to the appropriate type and condition of road you are on. In particular
* try to anticipate what pedestrians and cyclists might do.
Be considerate. Be careful of and considerate towards all types of road users, especially those requiring extra care (see Rule 204). You should
* try to be understanding if other road users cause problems; they may be inexperienced or not know the area well
* be patient; remember that anyone can make a mistake
* not allow yourself to become agitated or involved if someone is behaving badly on the road. This will only make the situation worse. Pull over, calm down and, when you feel relaxed, continue your journey
* slow down and hold back if a road user pulls into your path at a junction. Allow them to get clear. Do not over-react by driving too close behind to intimidate them
* not throw anything out of a vehicle, for example, cigarette ends, cans, paper or carrier bags. This can endanger other road users, particularly motorcyclists and cyclists.
General rules (159-161)
Once moving you should
* be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motor cycles who may be filtering through the traffic. These are more difficult to see than larger vehicles and their riders are particularly vulnerable. Give them plenty of room, especially if you are driving a long vehicle or towing a trailer.
Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should
* give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211-215).
Road junctions (170-183)
Take extra care at junctions. You should
* watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, powered wheelchairs/mobility scooters and pedestrians as they are not always easy to see. Be aware that they may not have seen or heard you if you are approaching from behind.
* watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross, they have priority, so give way.
* watch out for long vehicles which may be turning at a junction ahead; they may have to use the whole width of the road to make the turn (see Rule 221).
Junctions controlled by traffic lights
Do not unnecessarily encroach on the cyclists’ waiting area
Advanced stop lines. Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be positioned ahead of other traffic. Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and should avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked. If your vehicle has proceeded over the first white line at the time that the signal goes red, you MUST stop at the second white line, even if your vehicle is in the marked area. Allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows.
[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10, 36(1) & 43(2)]
Use your mirrors and give a left-turn signal well before you turn left. Do not overtake just before you turn left and watch out for traffic coming up on your left before you make the turn, especially if driving a large vehicle. Cyclists, motorcyclists and other road users in particular may be hidden from your view.
* keep as close to the left as is safe and practicable.
* give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane or tramway from either direction.
Signals and position
In all cases watch out for and give plenty of room to
* cyclists and horse riders who may stay in the left-hand lane and signal right if they intend to continue round the roundabout. Allow them to do so.
Pedestrian crossings (191-199)
Zebra crossings. As you approach a zebra crossing
* look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross.
* you MUST give way when a pedestrian has moved onto a crossing.
* allow more time for stopping on wet or icy roads.
* do not wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching.
* be aware of pedestrians approaching from the side of the crossing.
A zebra crossing with a central island is two separate crossings (see Rule 20).
[Law ZPPPCRGD reg 25]
The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. It is particularly important to be aware of children, older and disabled people, and learner and inexperienced drivers and riders.
Motorcyclists and cyclists
It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists, especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions, at roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic. Always look out for them before you emerge from a junction; they could be approaching faster than you think. hen turning right across a lane of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look out for cyclists or motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic you are crossing. Be especially careful when turning, and when changing direction or lane. Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully.
When passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room (see Rules 162-167). If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so.
Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.
High-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather, but strong gusts can also blow a car, cyclist, motorcyclist or horse rider off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges or gaps in hedges.
Use off-street parking areas, or bays marked out with white lines on the road as parking spaces, wherever possible. If you have to stop on the roadside
* you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists and other traffic.
[Laws CUR reg 98, 105 & 107, RVLR reg 27 & RTA 1988 sect 42]
You MUST NOT stop or park on
* a tram or cycle lane during its period of operation
* a cycle track
DO NOT stop or park
* where you would obstruct cyclists’ use of cycle facilities except when forced to do so by stationary traffic
take extra care near cyclists and motorcyclists as they are vulnerable to skidding on grit, mud or other debris at road works.
All road users, but particularly cyclists and motorcyclists, should take extra care when driving or riding close to or crossing the tracks, especially if the rails are wet. You should take particular care when crossing the rails at shallow angles, on bends and at junctions. It is safest to cross the tracks directly at right angles. Other road users should be aware that cyclists and motorcyclists may need more space to cross the tracks safely.
To read the full Highway Code visit http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/index.htm, and the link directly to the Cyclists section is here.
For more tips and hints on how to stay on the right side, follow the UK Cycle Rules blog by Jorren Knibbe.