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The Rules of the Road for Cycling

The Rules of the Road for Cycling

Q. How much space should you give someone who is cycling when you are passing them in a car?

A. When passing someone who is cycling the Highway Code advises that you should leave as much space as you would when passing a car.  Best practice recommends at least 1.5 – 2 meters.

Highway Code – Using the road – Overtaking – Rule 163: 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).


Q. Are people who cycle allowed to be on the road?

A. Whether you walk, cycle, ride a motorcycle or horse or drive, all road users have equal rights to use the road.

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 Highway Code and are considerate towards each other.  This applies to pedestrians as much as to drivers and riders.


Q. Is it okay to cycle two abreast?

A. Yes – cycling two abreast is allowed on public roads.  When cycling on narrow or very busy roads or around bends you should cycle single file.

Highway Code – Rules for cyclists – Rule 66: You should never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads or when riding round bends.


Q. Are people who cycle allowed to filter to the front at traffic lights?

A. When cycling you are allowed to filter to the front at traffic lights. However, you should only do it at lights where there is an advanced stop line and when traffic is not moving, or isn’t likely to start moving before you reach the front.  If you are not sure of the traffic light sequence you should not filter.

Highway Code – Using the Road – Road junctions – Rule 178: Advanced stop lines. Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be positioned ahead of other traffic.


Q. Are you allowed to cycle on the footpath?

A. You should not cycle on a footpath unless it is a shared path.  Some shared paths will have a segregated line for cycling and you must stay on the side marked for cycling in these cases

Highway Code – Rules for cyclists – Rule 62: Cycle tracks. …When using segregated tracks you MUST keep to the side intended for cyclists as the pedestrian side remains a footway or footpath.

Highway Code – Rules for cyclists – Rule 64: You MUST NOT cycle on a footway or footpath unless on a cycle track where one has been provided.


Q. Do all road signs apply to people cycling as well as to people driving?

A. Yes – people who are cycling on the road must obey the road signs just as those driving must also obey the road signs.

Highway Code – Rules for cyclists – Rule 69: You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.


Q. When cycling can you cycle through red traffic lights?

A. No, traffic signals apply to all road users including those who are cycling.

Highway Code – Rules for cyclists – Rule 69: You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

Highway Code – Rules for cyclists – Rule 71: You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red…

 Highway Code – Using the road – Road junctions – Junctions controlled by traffic lights – Rule 175: You MUST stop behind the white ‘Stop’ line across your side of the road unless the light is green.  If the amber light appears you may go on only if you have crossed the stop line or are so close to it that to stop might cause a collision.


Q. Is there any time of the day when it’s OK to park in cycle lanes?

A. There are different types of cycle lanes. It is against the law to park at any time in a mandatory cycle lane. A mandatory cycle lane has an unbroken white line. Best practice is to avoid parking in any cycle lane.

The law applies to mandatory cycle lanes that have an unbroken white line which motorists cannot cross. Other advisory cycle lanes with a broken white line do not have this protection and the rules for parking will be indicated by other signs or yellow kerbside lines.

Highway Code – Waiting and parking – Parking – Rule 240: You MUST NOT stop or park on a bus, tram or cycle lane during its period of operation.


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