Saturday, 7 January 2012

British Cycling Laws

After reading about the Ausies who Governments introduced a law enforcing its cyclists to wear helmets I thought it would be a good idea to look up what the British cycling laws actually are. It’s quite amazing really, I have been riding a bike since I was 4 and driving a car since I was 17 (I am now 35 if you need to know!), yet I can't really say I have ever been taught any specific cycling laws. The Highway Code for driving yes, but nothing specific to bikes.

So I did some research and this is what I found.

1. 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

2.You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement

Although the Government website advises you can ride on pavements when approaching roundabouts

  • 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
4. 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

5. 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.

6.You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals

7. You MUST

· ensure your brakes are efficient

· at night, use lit front and rear lights and have a red rear reflector

8. The government also recommends

· You choose the right size and type of cycle for comfort and safety

·  lights and reflectors are kept clean and in good working order

·  tyres are in good condition and inflated to the pressure shown on the tyre

·  gears are working correctly

·  the chain is properly adjusted and oiled

·  the saddle and handlebars are adjusted to the correct height

9. PBSR requirements (general product safety recommendations for new bikes) - (

One might suppose that the remaining provisions of this regulation must be comparatively trivial, and so they are. Every new bicycle has to come with:
  1. Any hand-operated brakes arranged left-hand rear, right-hand front
  2. A bell
  3. White or yellow reflectors on both sides of each wheel or tyre
  4. A white wide-angle front reflector, or a front lamp
  5. A red wide-angle rear reflector
  6. Yellow reflectors front and rear on each pedal
The reflectors (or front lamp) required above must be of a specification that is approved by UK Lighting Regulations.

A bike that is sold fully assembled must come exactly so, with all these things fitted as described. But a bike that is sold as a kit, or with some parts un-assembled (perhaps just these parts), merely has to be capable of being assembled like so. In that case it must come with assembly instructions plus any special tools.

10. Can you Cycle across Pelican Crossings?

No. The Highway Code states ‘Do not ride across a pelican, puffin or zebra crossing. Dismount and wheel your cycle across.’ However, you can cycle across a ‘toucan crossing’ A toucan crossing is a wider version of pelican crossings. It will have an extra light to indicate a green cyclist.

To confuse matters, some pelican crossings have an extra green light for cyclist. A green cyclist light gives the indication it would be OK to cross on the bike. (

11. Not just an urban myth, there is a law about ‘furious cycling’ “…causing bodily harm by wanton or furious cycling under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which carries a maximum jail sentence of two years. Cycling Weekly link of cyclist prosecuted under the furious cycling lay (

12. There is no law to say you cannot ride 2 abreast on a road. Just a cursory note to state care must be taken on windy or narrow roads. Just use common sense but cars have no right to get annoyed as you are not breaking any law

13. There is no law to say you cannot undertake cars or traffic. The Highway Code states "You should • be aware of cyclists and motorcyclists who may be passing on either side"

14. The legal limits for electric bikes in the UK.

  • Speed limit of 15mph
  • Weight of 40Kg
  • Maximum power of 200Watts
  • Max power of 250 watts for tricycles and tandems
15. Penalties for Infringing Law
  • Cycling on pavements by roadside. Max fine £1,000. In practise, fixed penalty notice £30
  • Furious Cycling. £200. Can be imprisonment, banned from driving a car.
  • Drunk in charge of bicycle (licensing act 1872) – 1 month prison and £200 fine.
  • Electric bikes cannot be ridden by under 14. £500 fine.
  • Dangerously riding bike, max fine £2,500
  • Riding without due car and attention max fine £1,000
Some room for thought

1. A furious row is set to erupt between Britain and Europe over proposed legislation to make car drivers responsible for all accidents involving cyclists - even when the bike rider has broken the law and is in the wrong.

To the delight of cyclists and the dismay of drivers, a European law is being planned to force motorists to pay compensation and damages in all accidents with cyclists. The measure will put car insurance premiums up by an average £50 (The guardian)

Many countries in Europe already have this policy and it works very well by putting the cyclist in the min of the driver. In the UK there is often a distain or disregard for the safety of cyclists. This would ensure that drivers at least take notice as they would be responsible regardless.

2. Should Cyclists in the UK be forced by law to wear helmets? There are still huge arguments raging about their mandatory enforcement and the momentum is growing. The no vote continues to push to the lack of scientific evidence argument whereas for the yes vote is gaining increasing levels of evidence to the benefits. I personally do not sit on the fence on this one and believe that it should be law. I have had 3 decent crashes in my 2 years, on all occasions my head had hit the road at a considerable force.

The NHS may be free in this country but we should not have to pay out for those who are willing to take unnecessary risks.

The argument will rage for a while yet, the challenge with any such law involving bikes will always be its enforcement and the practicality of doing so.

3. Should cycle maintenance as with cars become law? In other words should be have a national cycle register as well as a recognised service/certificate of road worthiness test? Again very difficult to monitor but would improve standards, increase jobs and road safety.

4. In Georgia no bicycle shall be equipped, modified, or altered in such a way as to cause the pedal in its lowermost position to be more than 12 inches above the ground, nor shall any bicycle be operated if so equipped. The question is: Who would ride such a bike?

5. I have also discovered that the US seems to take cycling laws far more seriously than in the UK and Europe. Many states actively seeking to punish all infringements with little empathy towards the cyclist. Fairly similar to how car drivers are treated in the UK. It may account for the lower percentage of uptake in the US versus some other countries. For more details on US laws check out Bike League

No comments:

Post a Comment