Thinking about cycling on the road? Make sure you know the rules

Cyclist in the city

Our cycling law team have put together some advice for those planning to make cycling part of their everyday life. Whether this is cycling to work or school, a visit to a shop or friend, it is important to make sure you know the rules for cyclists and stay safe on the roads.

What should a cyclist wear?

There has always been much debate as to what cyclists should and should not wear. It is very important that cyclists do as much as they can to help themselves be seen by others.

The Highway code states that a cyclist should wear a cycle helmet that complies with current regulations, fitted and light coloured clothing along with reflective clothing or accessories.

What lights should your bike have?

Bikes must have a white front light and a red rear light showing a steady or flashing light. For bikes manufactured after 1985, they should be fitted with amber pedal reflectors.

You can find more information in our blog Autumn cycling – cycle lights and the law.

Knowing your cycling lanes

Cyclists MUST NOT cycle on the pavement at any time and use cycle routes where available. It is vital that you safely use cycle routes, tracks, lanes and bus lanes; for example, when using a segregated cycle track you must keep to the side intended for cyclists.

Cyclists can use certain bus lanes when allowed to by road signs. However, extra care should be given for people getting on and off buses. You should not overtake a bus by passing in between the kerb and the bus when it is at a stop.

You can find more information about cycling lanes in our blog Cycle lanes – to use or not to use?

Can you go through a red light?

No, cyclists MUST NOT cross the stop line when lights are at red. All traffic signals and signs should be obeyed at all times. You should only position yourself ahead of the traffic where advanced stop lines are available.

Can you cycle across crossings?

Cyclist are not permitted to cycle across equestrian, pelican, puffin or zebra crossings. You should get off your bike and wheel it across.

Where there is a toucan crossing, a light-controlled crossing, cyclists are allowed to cycle across when the green signal shows. It is important to be careful of pedestrians crossing at the same time.

For tramways or level crossings, you should get off your bike and wheel it across where a ‘cycle dismount’ sign is shown.

Negotiating junctions

For junctions, it is important to watch out for vehicles in front of you and pay attention to long vehicles, particularly when they are turning a corner. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left. If you are turning right, it may be safer to wait on the left until there is a safe gap in traffic or get off and push your bike across the road.

Dealing with roundabouts

All too often, we see clients who have been injured at a roundabout as the driver failed to see them. It is very important to be extra careful when approaching a roundabout and making sure you are as visible as you can be and take extra care when cycling across exits and watch out for traffic joining the roundabout. You can choose to walk your bike around using the pavement or verge.

What you should and should NOT do when cycling

There is some general guidance to remember when cycling on the roads, including:

  • Keep both feet on the pedals
  • Keep both hands on handlebars - unless signalling or changing gear
  • Be mindful of traffic coming up behind you
  • Do not carry a passenger unless your bike has been built or adapted accordingly
  • Don’t cycle under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicines.

For more guidance on rules for cycling on the road, see the Highway Code Rules 59 to 82.

Expert legal advice for cyclists

If you need expert advice after suffering an injury when riding your bike, contact our cycling law solicitors at Digby Brown who will be happy to help you.

Call us on 0333 200 5925, text help to 83310 or fill in our brief enquiry form and someone will contact you.