10 Rules Of The Highway Code Every Cyclist Should Know

How well do you know the highway code?

*The Highway Code has been updated with effect from 29th January 2022. For an overview of the changes and how they affect cyclists check out:

8 Highway Code Changes Every Cyclist Should Know

In cycling there are rules of the road that we all follow. Passed down through experienced riders and club mates, we follow these to stay safe out on our rides. But what are the real rules of the road? As well as following traffic laws, there are rules specific to cyclists that are detailed in sections 59 to 82 of the Highway Code. Although not a statement of the law in itself (although many of the rules are indeed legal requirements), as detailed in our Can A Cyclist Be Sued If They Cause An Accident article, the rules may be used in the insurance process to prove negligence. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones to remember.

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#59 Clothing

How visible are you on the roads? (Credit: Garry Knight)

The first rule we’ll pick up on is all about what to wear on the bike. Now, we know that everyone has their own individual style on the bike (and off) so rule 59 is more like advice. It refers to the wearing of properly fitted helmets, appropriate clothing and reflective kit, but as it’s not an actual law, what you wear when cycling is a personal choice.

#60 Lights at night

A front and rear light is essential. 

On the other hand, cycling at night with the correct lights is an absolute must. This means a powerful white front light and a red rear light. Rule 60 also states that the front light can be on a flashing setting, but it should be on a steady beam when not riding in a lit-up area. To help prevent any issues with lights, especially when the days get shorter, a good tip is to either keep a spare pair at work or have a specific compartment for them in your bag where they live permanently. This way, remembering lights becomes a part of your daily schedule.

#61-64 Routes

Do you know where you can and can't ride your bike?

The Highway Code has a lot of information about where you can legally ride your bicycle. As you can imagine, it talks about following the specific crossings and bike boxes painted on the road itself, before going into specifics on cycle tracks. The code advises riding in these specific lanes but does not prohibit you from using the road when it might be safer. For example, when a path or bridleway is congested with people or when there are cars parked in a bike lane.

Rule 64 on the other hand states that cyclists must not ride on a pavement or public footpath. It should be noted that there is nothing to stop a rider dismounting and walking with their bike on a pavement, which can be a very good way of getting out of danger or past a blockage. There’s an argument that this rule shouldn’t be mandated due to the lack of cycling infrastructure and narrow paths in suburban areas, but we’ll park that debate for a rainy day.

#65 Bus Lane

Did you know bus lanes are for cyclists too?

Lots of cyclists don’t know that you can ride in a bus lane. Just double check that signage indicates cycling is permitted (most do) and, as long as you watch out for pedestrians and don’t undercut a bus at any point, you can cycle in the lane, staying out of regular traffic.

#66 Riding two abreast

Single file or two abreast? (Credit: Peter Blanchard)

Rule 66 is one of the Highway Code’s most controversial. Most of the clauses refer to pretty standard stuff surrounding the proper handling of a bike, but there is something interesting buried in the details. The rule advises that cyclists should never ride more than two abreast and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads. However, this has caused confusion among some motorists who think cyclists should single out when they approach. Of course, as cyclists we understand that riding in this manner (two by two) can make it safer, especially when accompanying young cyclists. British Cycling has in fact advised an update to the rule putting the onus on cyclists to be considerate of other road users and only go into single file when it is safe to do so. We have created a guide on how to ride safely in a group to help you learn the vital skill.

#68 Care and consideration

Common sense is key for all road users. (Credit: Jrm16311, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Rule 68 covers care, consideration and common sense. So, do not ride in a dangerous or careless manner, under the influence of drink or drugs, and do not hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer. It also stipulates that you can only carry a passenger if your bike was built or adapted to do so, i.e. with a properly secured child seat or trailer.

#69 Red lights

The non negotiable? Skipping a red light!

A bug bear of many road users is the propensity for some cyclists to skip through traffic signals. As you can imagine, this is illegal and specifically mentioned in the code, so you should never skip a light, especially at a dangerous junction. If you’re worried about getting bulked after the restart, there is no shame in jumping off and walking a short distance on the pavement.

That’s just 10 of the many rules that cyclists should be aware of when out on the road. You can find the whole list here. To optimise your safety and security when you’re riding your bike, you can’t go wrong with cycling specific insurance. If you take out a Pedalsure cycle insurance policy, you, your bike and your accessories will be protected in mass participation events and races, in cases of bike theft, personal injury, personal liability, at home and abroad. Most of what we cover you won’t find in your standard home insurance policies, so give yourself peace of mind by following our quick and easy quote process today.

Protect yourself while out on the roads with comprehensive cycle insurance from us. Get a quote today.


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