Reminder to cyclists – what you need to remember on the road

Cyclist in cycle lane

As weather conditions improve and more people are cycling, we wanted to outline what cyclists should remember when out on the road.

While some of the guidance relevant to cyclists may not be the most exciting of topics, it is always worthwhile to remind ourselves what some of the rules are - not only for cyclists but for other road users too.

An ideal starting point is the Highway Code and there’s certain rules aimed solely at cyclists – specifically Rule 59 to 82.

We’re not going to bombard you with all of them, just a few basics to help you cycle safely. 

Rules of the road for cyclists

Rule 59: Clothing - don’t worry, lycra is not compulsory!

Make sure your helmet is up to scratch with safety regulations (the sticker on the inside of the helmet will tell you). 

Also, avoid buying a second-hand helmet because if the previous owner had a crash then it may have lost its structural integrity and not offer you any protection - and it doesn’t need to be dented or scratched for these flaws to still be present. 

Clothing should be bright in daytime and reflective at night-time. It’s also a good idea to not wear baggy trousers as the fabric can get caught in the chain. Some people get round this by tucking their trouser leg into their socks or wearing clips designed to hold back the fabric but if you wear cycling specific clothing then there’s no need for such efforts. 

Rule 60: Bike lights – to see, or to be seen

White at the front, red at the rear. And you must use them. 

Which ones? Well, lights to see are often more powerful and cast a wide beam helping you to see more clearly at night. 

Whereas lights to be seen are often smaller, have a flash/blinking sequence and while they are no good for navigating in the dark they will still alert other road users to your presence – these are good to use during the day because in addition to your bright clothing they will help reduce the risk of road users not seeing you.

Rules 61 to 65: Where you can cycle

You should NEVER cycle on the pavement. 

If you do need to use a pavement then you should get off your bike and push until you return to the road or cycle track. 

Designated cycle paths are often safe but are not compulsory – also, if you do use them then watch out for others like dog walkers or pedestrians, give people at least two metres space when you pass them in line with current COVID-19 social distancing rules and take care at junctions where cycle lanes crisscross. 

Cyclists can use the majority of bus lanes as indicated on signs but please take care for buses entering traffic flows or of passengers getting off. It is advised that you don't pass between the kerb and a bus when it is stopped - always travel past the bus driver window.

With social distancing measures in place at the moment, it is also advisable to stay close to home and cycle on routes you know well that are within your ability – and consider how wide those routes are for passing others. 

Rule 69 and 71: Yes – cyclists must stop at a red light

As a road cyclist you are part of the traffic, so you must obey traffic signals and signs just like any other motorist. 

Some cyclists stop at a red light then dismount and cross the road using pedestrian crossings before remounting at the other side – this is okay as it’s advised in Rule 79.

Rules of the road for motorists

There are specific rules in the Highway Code that serves as a reminder for motorists to pay particular attention to other road users requiring extra care. 

It should come as no surprise that cyclist’s fall into this category and are classed as vulnerable road users.

Rules 211- 213: Advice for motorists about cyclists

Advice for motorists about keeping a proper look out for cyclists and giving cyclists time, space and plenty of room.

Although some of the guidance in these rules may seem obvious, we know all too well how not paying heed to these tips can have serious consequences for cyclists.

Learning the guidelines in the Highway Code should not just be for when you are trying to pass the driving test or indeed the Bikeability test.

All road users should follow the Highway Code and take time to remind themselves what their obligations are towards others.

Read more about the Highway Code’s advice to cyclists and to learn more about general safety, health, policy and events in your area visit Cycling Scotland.

Stay seen, stay safe, stay smart.

Last updated 24/4/2020