Before you set off
Whilst it might not be the most stylish look, being seen as a cyclist is vital to road safety – and that means bright clothing. The Highway Code (rule 59) advises cyclists to avoid wearing dark colours and instead opt for lighter shades, especially if you’re travelling as it gets dark. You may also want to consider wearing a reflective sash or vest.
This will allow you to be seen by other road users and is an important consideration in the event of an accident. If you’re involved in a crash, a driver may argue that you didn’t do enough to be seen.
Additionally, at night, you legally must have a white front light, a red rear light, a red rear reflector, and amber reflective strips on the pedals, if your bike was made after October 1985.
The Highway Code’s January 2022 update included new rules that affect cyclists. One of the areas that was amended is the guidance around road positioning – a common frustration for cyclists, who may find themselves under pressure from drivers to move over.
Now, on quiet roads like country lanes, cyclists are advised to cycle in the middle of the road, so that drivers can clearly see them. If you’re in a group, you’re also permitted to cycle side-by-side. However, the rules do state that cyclists should be aware of any drivers behind them and should move over, get into single-file, or stop as soon as it is safe to do so when a driver is behind them.
Cycling at junctions
Junctions can be a familiar pain point for cyclists. Not only do you have a queue of cars behind you, but you need to consider the traffic on the other side of the road and look out for pedestrians. With so much going on, it’s no wonder that junctions are a common place for accidents to occur – research suggests that 75% of cycling accidents happen at junctions.
Some cities now have specialist bike traffic lights that allow cyclists to go ahead of cars by a few seconds, but unfortunately, these are not yet a country-wide feature. So, the Highway Code recommends that cyclists stick to the centre of the lane when coming up to the junction, to make sure drivers see them and help control the traffic. Additionally, cyclists have priority when going straight ahead or turning at a junction, so cars should, in theory, wait for you to turn before they do. However, it’s always advisable to be cautious and to try to make eye contact with the turning driver to ensure that they’ve seen you.
A place for everyone
We’ve covered some key rules for cyclists. It’s also important to remember that pedestrians have priority. Be aware of your surroundings, take care of yourself and others, and together we can create a safe environment for everyone.