14 July 2015
Cycling and The Law: Some Frequently Asked Questions
Can Motorists Park in Cycle Lanes?
Cars and lorries parking in cycle lanes is a particular problem for cyclists as it forces them out of the relative safety of cycle lanes into moving traffic, often with little warning.
But is it legal for motorists to park in cycle lanes? Rule 140 of the Highway Code clearly states: Cycle lanes. These are shown by road markings and signs. You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable. You MUST NOT park in any cycle lane whilst waiting restrictions apply.
Put simply, the rules on parking in cycle lanes depend on whether the cycle lane has a solid or broken white line running down its right side, and whether any signage is in place.
A solid white line indicates a mandatory cycle lane which motorists, cannot drive or park in. A broken white line is an advisory marking telling motorists they should not drive or park in cycle lanes unless absolutely necessary.
Motorists who are caught parking in a mandatory cycle lane may be given a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice.
Can Cyclists Cycle the Wrong Way Down One-Way Streets?
One-way streets can often make cycle journeys longer and potentially more dangerous as detours can mean there may be more junctions to negotiate.
There have been proposals to introduce arrangements to allow cyclists to ride in both directions down one way streets. However, at present, cyclists can only ride the wrong way down one-way streets if there are signs stating it is permitted.
Cycling and Alcohol: What is Legal?
Cyclists do not have to adhere to the same drink drive limit as motorists. The test for cyclists is whether or not they are “fit to ride.” Both the legal limit and the breath tests the police use for motorists do not apply.
Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states: A person who, when riding a cycle on a road or other public place, is unfit to ride through drink or drugs (that is to say, is under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle) is guilty of an offence.
Is it Legal to Cycle in Bus Lanes?
Nearly all bus lanes are open to cyclists unless signage indicates otherwise. Cyclists should always look out for passengers getting on or off buses and be careful when overtaking buses that have either pulled in or may be about to pull out from bus stops. Cyclists should never pass between the kerb and a stationary bus at a bus stop.
What Are The Penalties for the Most Common Cycling Offences?
Red lights: Cyclists must obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals. Cyclists must not cross the stop line when traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line (ASL) to enable cyclists to position themselves ahead of other traffic.
If cyclists are caught jumping red lights they may be given a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice.
Speeding: Cyclists cannot be booked for speeding, but under the 1847 Town Police Clauses Act, they can be fined for “cycling furiously.”
Under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, cyclists can be convicted and imprisoned for up to two years if found guilty of “wanton and furious driving,” which causes injury to someone other than themselves.
Under Section 28 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence for cyclists to ride recklessly or in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner. Dangerous cycling, defined as riding “far below what would be expected of a competent and careful cyclist,” is a more serious offence than careless and inconsiderate cycling. The maximum penalty for dangerous cycling is £2,500.
Cycling on the Pavement: It is illegal for cyclists to ride on the pavement unless the pavement is marked as a shared use cycling path. If caught riding on the pavement, cyclists can face a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice.
Cycling without lights: It is illegal to cycle on public roads between sunset and sunrise without white front and red rear lights. Lights can be steady or flashing, although it is recommended that cyclists riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front light.
By law, bikes must also be fitted with a red rear reflector and two amber reflectors must be fitted to each pedal.
Oliver Jeffcott is an Associate Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
Oliver is a keen cyclist who has written extensively on cycling and road safety for numerous national publications.