Cyclist Accidents: The Laws And Parts Of The Highway Code That Help Keep Bicycle Riders Safe
Cyclist accidents solicitors sets out the specific parts of the Highway Code that deal with cyclist safety (relied upon by personal injury solicitors to assist with proving a claim for compensation); how cyclists should approach various situations on the roads; the proper gear and cycling technique which cyclists should adopt and the criminal law cyclists are subject to when seriously injuring pedestrians.
See our detailed article how to make a bicycle injury claim setting out how these laws are applied to prove fault in a claim for cyclist personal injury.
Choosing Your Bike & National Cycling Training Standard Helping To Avoid Cyclist Accidents
The Highway Code has a specific section dealing with cycling proficiency and the new national training standard.
It is designed to ensure you are ready and able to ride a bicycle and that you are riding a bicycle that is suited to you.
This is set out in Annex 1 – The Highway Code – You And Your Bicycle.
The Parts Of The Highway Code Specifically Relevant As To How Other Motorists Should Avoid Ensure Cyclist Safety To Avoid Accidents
The Highway Code specifies a number of extra criteria that motorists should be careful of when a cyclist is (or might be) present on the road.
Difficult To See Cyclists So Motorists Should Watch Out & Check Blind Spots
The Highway Code – Rule 211
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.
When turning right across a line 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.
Give Cyclists Room When Overtaking And Watch Out As A Cyclist May Have To Change Direction Due To Obstacles On The Road Or Other Road Conditions Motorists May Not Be Aware Of
The Highway Code – Rule 212
When passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room. 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.
The Highway Code – Rule 213
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 particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.
The Highway Code Relevant Part Of Rule 163
Give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.
Motorists Should Not Overtake If It Means Entering A Cycle Lane To Do So
The Highway Code Relevant Part Of Rule 165
You must not overtake if you would have to enter a lane reserved for buses, trams or cycles during its hours of operation
The Highway Code Relevant Part Of Rule 167
DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example
stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left.
The Highway Code Relevant Part Of Rule 169
Do not hold up a long queue of traffic, especially if you are driving a large or slow-moving vehicle. Check your mirrors frequently, and if necessary, pull in where it is safe and let traffic pass.
The Highway Code Provides Rules As To Equipment Cyclists Should Have To Ensure Their Own Safety, Be Seen And Help Prevent Accidents
Clothing & Helmet Cyclists Should Wear
The Highway Code Rule 59
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.
Cyclists Should Be Seen By Using Lights And Reflectors
The Highway Code Rule 60
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.
How Cyclists Should Use Cycle Routes Designated For Them Such As Cycle Lanes
The Highway Code Rule 61
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.
The Highway Code Rule 62
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.
The Highway Code Rule 63
Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 140). When using a cycle lane, 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.
Cyclists Should Not Cycle On The Pavement & Risk A Fine If Caught Doing
The Highway Code Rule 64
You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.
The Highways Act 1835, section 72 – This is an old law which allows a fine to be imposed if you cause a nuisance by cycling on a pedestrian footpath.
“If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers …every person so offending … shall for each and every such offence… pay any sum not exceeding [level 2 on the standard scale], over and above the damages occasioned thereby.”
The Use Of Bus Lanes When Cycling Your Bike
The Highway Code Rule 65
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.
Techniques & Safety Standards As To How To Avoid Cyclist Accidents
The Highway Code Rule 66
- 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.
The Highway Code Rule 67
- 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.
The Highway Code Rule 68
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.
Cyclists Must Obey Traffic Signs And Signals In The Same Way As Motor Vehicle Drivers And Park Your Bike Properly
The Highway Code Rule 69
You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.
The Highway Code Rule 70
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.
The Highway Code Rule 71
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.
Extra Care Cyclists Should Take At Road Junctions
The Highway Code Rule 72
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.
The Highway Code Rule 73
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.
The Highway Code Rule 74
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.
How Cyclists Should Navigate Roundabouts & Dual Carriageways
The Highway Code Rule 75
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.
The Highway Code Rule 76
Full details about the correct procedure at roundabouts are contained in Rules 184 to 190. Roundabouts can be hazardous and should be approached with care.
The Highway Code Rule 77
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.
Cyclists Should Give Plenty Of Room To Long Vehicles (Such Lorries, Buses & Coaches)
The Highway Code Rule 78
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.
Cyclists & Different Types Of Road Crosssings
The Highway Code Rule 79
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.
The Highway Code Rule 80
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.
The Highway Code Rule 81
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.
The Highway Code Rule 82
Level crossings/Tramways. Take extra care when crossing the tracks. You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘cyclist dismount’ sign is displayed.
Cyclist Accidents And Criminal Offences When Serious Injury Is Caused
“Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years”