cyclist accidents

Cyclist Accidents: The Parts Of The Highway Code That Help Prove Motorist Fault For Bike Rider Road Injuries

The Highway Code has many different sections dealing with how motorists should take extra precautions to ensure cyclists on the road are kept safe and how cyclists themselves should approach certain road hazards to avoid cyclists accidents and protect themselves from with proper cycling gear.

Your solicitor will rely heavily on the provisions in the Highway Code when determining motorists error.

In this article – we set out the specific parts of the Highway Code that deal with cyclist safety ; 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.

Table of Contents

What are the rules motorists should comply with to ensure cyclist safety?

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.

Watch out for cyclists who can be difficult to see

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 be mindful of sudden direction changes

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.

Remember – motorists should 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.

Do not enter a cycle lane to overtake

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.

How should a cyclist obtain sufficient skill to avoid unnecessary accidents on the road?

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.

What equipment should cyclists have to ensure their own safety and prevent accidents?

The Highway Code sets out the equipment cyclists should have to ensure their own safety, be seen and help prevented unwanted accidents.

Helmet And Clothing Cyclists Should Wear

The Highway Code Rule 59

As a cyclists 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 01/10/85). 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 should a cyclist use designated cycle routes?

The Highway Code sets out how cyclists should use cycle routes designated specifically for bicycle use.

Cycle Routes and Other Facilities

The Highway Code Rule 61

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.

Cycle Tracks

The Highway Code Rule 62

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.

Cycle Lanes

The Highway Code Rule 63

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.

Can cyclists cycle on the pavement?

Cyclists should not cycle on the pavement and risk a fine if caught doing so.

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.”

Can cyclists use bus lanes?

The Highway Code sets out the rules of cycling in bus lanes.

Bus Lanes

The Highway Code Rule 65

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.

What techniques can cyclists use to avoid accidents?

The Highway Code sets out techniques and safety standards that help cyclists avoid having an accident.

Cycling Techniques

The Highway Code Rule 66

Cyclists should:

  • 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.
cyclist road accident claim
Cyclist Road Accident Claim

Take Care and Be Aware

The Highway Code Rule 67

Cyclists should:

  • 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.

Things Cyclists Should Avoid Doing

The Highway Code Rule 68

Cyclists 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.

Should cyclists obey traffic signs and signals?

“Yes” – as a cyclist the Highway Code requires that you must obey traffic signs and signals in the same way as motor vehicle drivers have to and must park your bike properly.

Obey Traffic Signs And Signals

The Highway Code Rule 69

You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

Correct Parking Of Your Bicycle

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.

Do Not Cross A Stop Line When A Traffic Light Is On Red

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 At Road Junctions

Approaching A Junction On The Left

The Highway Code Rule 72

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.

Be Careful Of Long Vehicles

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.

Turning Right

The Highway Code Rule 74

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 should cyclists navigate roundabouts and dual carriageways?

Navigating Dual Carriageways

The Highway Code Rule 75

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.

Navigating Roundabouts

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.

Give Plenty Of Room To Long Vehicles At Roundabouts

Long vehicles present extra danger to cyclists. Examples of long vehicles might include lorries, buses and 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.

How do cyclists tackle different types of road crossings

The Highway Code gives guidance as to how cyclists should approach and cross different types of road crossings.

Equestrian Crossings

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.

Toucan Crossings

The Highway Code Rule 80

Toucan crossings 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

The Highway Code Rule 81

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.

Level Crossings / Tramways

The Highway Code Rule 82

Take extra care when crossing the tracks of level crossings and tramways. You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘cyclist dismount’ sign is displayed.

Can claims be made against cyclists for causing injury to pedestrians?

In theory a personal injury claim can be made against a cyclist should injury be caused to a pedestrian from negligent cycling.

Watch out – cyclists can commit a criminal offence if they cause serious injury to a pedestrian.

Offences Against the Person Act 1861, Section 35

“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”

Summary Of Cyclist Accident Claims

In this article we have set out the relevant parts of the Highway Code that relate to cyclists. How motorists should take extra care to avoid injuring a cyclist and the rules that cyclists should adhere to that allow them to keep safe.

We further looked at the laws that prevent cyclists themselves from endangering other road users , including pedestrians.

Remember – when your solicitor is determining who is fault for your accident, the Highway Code and surrounding laws are a very important consideration.

We offer a number of free online / telephone legal help and assistance options from our specialist solicitors. You can call a solicitor direct, arrange a callback, ask a question or have an online assessment.