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Cyclists Highway Code: Rule 59 to 71

The Highway Code for cyclists is essential reading for everyone who rides bicycles. It explains the rules for riding a bike on the roadways and public thoroughfares in the United Kingdom. The wording of the highways code makes it clear to identify the law when cycling on a bicycle. The words 'MUST' and 'MUST NOT' are the rules that need obeying.

Cylist Highway Code:This section covers vital information on the lawful rights for cycle riders.

There is extra guidance addressing the bike Highway Code. It relates to bike positioning at junctions and on roundabouts. Check how to cycle with safety while crossing the roads.

Cyclist Highway Code for Clothing

Rule 59: As a cyclist you should help yourself to be seen by drivers and other road users. Highway Code rule 59 states that cyclists should wear:

  • A correct size cycle helmet conforming to current regulations and securely fastened.
  • Appropriate clothing for cycling. That means not wearing clothes that may get tangled in the chain, wheel, or obscure your bike lights.
  • Fluorescent clothing. Wearing light-coloured garments help other road users see you in daylight and dull light.
  • Reflective clothing and accessories in the darkness (e.g. belt, arm bands, or ankle bands).
Cycling Highway Code at Night

Rule 60: UK Highway Code rules say that your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit when you are cycling at night. Your bike MUST also have a red rear reflector fitted.

Note: Bicycles manufactured after the 1st October 1985 must also have amber pedal reflectors.

Fitting white front reflectors and spoke reflectors will help you get seen by other motorists. You can use flashing lights on your bike. But, it is strongly recommended for cyclists to use a steady front lamp while riding in areas without street lighting.

Cycle Routes and Bicycle Tracks

Rule 61: Cycling on cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes, and toucan crossings is generally safer. But, only it is safe to do so at the time.

Using these facilities is not compulsory. The choice may depend on your experience and cycling skills. Even so, using them they should make road journeys safer for cyclists.

Rule 62: As a rule, cycle tracks get located some distance away from the road. But you may also find designated cycle tracks alongside footpaths or pavements.

Cyclists and pedestrians may share the same space (unsegregated) or they can be separate (segregated).

You MUST keep to the side intended for cyclists when using segregated tracks. This is because the pedestrian side remains as a pavement or footpath.

Take extra care when cycling passed all pedestrians. This applies most to children, senior citizens, and disabled people. Always allow them plenty of space.

Cyclists should always be prepared to slow down and stop where necessary. Take extra care near road junctions as you may have difficulty seeing other road users. You may not get noticed by them either.

Cycle Lanes Highway Code and Pavements

Rule 63: Cycle lanes will have white line markings (sometimes broken) along the carriageway. Keep within the lane as often as practicable when using a cycle lane.

Check before you pull out of a cycle lane to make sure it is safe to do so. Remember to signal your intention clearly to motorists and other road users.

Using cycle lanes is not compulsory. It often depends on your experience and cycling skill level. But using them usually makes journeys safer for cyclists.

Rule 64: Highway Code rules for cyclists are clear about riding on any pavements. Rule 64 of the Highway Code states that you MUST NOT cycle on a roadside pavement.

Highway Code for Cyclists using Bus Lanes

Rule 65: As a rule, cyclists can use most bus lanes as indicated on the road signage. Even so, bike riders should watch out for people getting on or off buses. Be extra careful when overtaking a bus or leaving a bus lane.

As you enter a busier traffic flow, you should not pass between the kerb and a bus while it is stationary at a bus stop.

Rule 66: All cyclists should:

  • Keep both hands on the handlebars (exception for signalling or changing gear).
  • Keep both feet on the bicycle pedals.
  • Never ride more than two abreast (cycling two abreast means side by side).
  • Ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding around a bend.
  • Not ride close behind another vehicle (often called tailgating).
  • Not carry anything which will affect your balance or may get tangled up with your wheels or chain.
  • Be considerate of other road users (especially blind and partially sighted pedestrians).
  • Let other road users know you are there when necessary (e.g. ring your cycle bell).

Rule 67: Cyclists should also:

  • Look all around before moving away from the kerb, turning or maneuvering, to make sure it is safe to do so.
  • Give clear signals to other road users to show them what you intend to do.
  • Be aware of traffic coming up behind you especially when cycling through roundabouts and traffic circles.
  • Look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, potholes and parked vehicles. That means you will avoid having to swerve with a sudden movement.
  • Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles. Watch out for people opening car doors or pedestrians stepping into your path.
  • Take extra care near road humps, street narrowing, and other traffic calming features.
  • Use extra caution as a cyclist crossing the road and when overtaking (Mirror Signal Manoeuvre Highway Code).

Note: Another section explains how to report a blocked drain or report a pothole to the local council authority (England and Wales).

Rule 68: Cyclists MUST NOT under any circumstances:

  • Carry a passenger (unless your cycle’s 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 under the influence drugs (including some prescription medicines).

Rule 69: If you ride a cycle you MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

Parking Your Bicycle

Rule 70: When you park your cycle:

  • Find a conspicuous location where it can get 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.

Rule 71: Cyclists MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are showing a red light.

Riders will find some special rules for cyclists at junctions where there is an advanced stop line. It means you can wait and position yourself and your bike ahead of other traffic at the intersection.


What are the Cycling Rules at Roundabouts?

Rule 76 Highway Code: Traffic circles can be hazardous for anyone using a bicycle. So, when it comes to cycling rules roundabouts require a cautious approach.

Is it Legal for Cyclists to Ride Two Abreast?

Rule 66 of the bike Highway Code says you should ride a cycle in single file on narrow or busy roads and never more than two abreast. Therefore, despite rules existing for cyclists crossing the road, it is legal to cycle side by side on most roads around the United Kingdom.

Is it Illegal to Ride a Bike on the Pavement?

The technical term for the pavement is ‘footway’ and cycling on it could antagonize pedestrians and get you fined. According to British law (a consequence of Taylor v Goodwin judgment 1879). Bicycles are in fact carriages and should not get cycled on the footway.

Is it the Law to Wear a Bike Helmet?

Contrary to what most cyclists think, there is no British law which compels anyone of any age to wear helmets when cycling. Nonetheless, the cycling Highway Code suggests wearing one which is the correct size, securely fastened, and conforms to current safety helmet regulations.

Is it Illegal to Ride a Bike Drunk UK?

The best way to answer this question about a person’s fitness to drive is to quote the wordings of the Road Traffic Act 1988 Section 30.

“It is an offence for a person to ride a cycle on a road or other public place when unfit to ride through drink or drugs. That is to say – is under the influence of a drink or a drug to such an extent to be incapable of having proper control of the bicycle.”

Highway Code for Cyclists and Bicycles in United Kingdom