Cycling and the law

Whilst cycling grips Britain in the wake of the olympic success, more and more novices are taking to the roads; in turn, there have been an increasing number of reports of deaths to cyclists on the city’s roads. Read on to find out some of the most important things to remember…

By James Ricalton [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By James Ricalton [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

After Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggans recently campaigned for an amendment to the law on wearing helmets, some questioned why it isn’t already a necessity. Some argue that those wearing helmets are more likely to take risks, and thus incur more accidents; whereas others offer endless anecdotes of friends who’s lives have been saved in the process. But, interestingly helmets is not currently the law: that’s for you to judge each day you climb on your bicycle.

Here I’ve named a few important ones to remember, also outlined by Transport for London:

  • Give way to pedestrians, and remember you make less noise than a car – consider a bell!
  • You can get fined up to £500 for riding on the pavement, but it’ll more likely be £30 (Fixed Penalty Notice). A seemingly easy one to avoid, however daunting the road might seem at first. Refer to the end of the article for courses to build your cycling confidence
  • You must signal when you want to turn, otherwise the cars won’t understand. Use your arms pointing in either direction (it is also illegal to cycle no-handed)
  • Never hold onto a moving vehicle in hope of being towed…
  • You have to have lights when it gets dark, as well as a rear reflector. Good lights save lives – you might also consider a reflective jacket, depending on where you are.
  • No drunk-cycling! You can get fined up to £2500 for this one!
  • Cars can’t drive or stop in the cycle lanes, and we get to stop in front of them at the traffic lights. This law was recently strengthened, giving motorists an on-the-spot £100 fine if caught on camera or red-handed.

Yes the road is scary at first, but The Highway Code applies to cyclists too… (Read it here). If in doubt, consider the rules that applied to you when you learnt to drive. If you’re still worried, think about taking a cycling proficiency course in your local area – they are cheap, and in some cases subsidised; your employer might even pay for you to take one. Click the link for more information.

Interestingly, Boris is also implementing a scheme of ‘Cycle-Superhighways’, built over the next half decade that will take commuters from greater London into the centre, at relative safety. Funded by Barclays, the highways are for cyclists only, and the roads are paved a bright blue. Though their release is staggered over the years, this drastic improvement into the city’s green policies offers new hope for sustainable transport in London. Click here to see if there will be one near you.