Cyclists and the law - The Highway Code

Most of the Highway Code applies to all types of vehicles and so if you fail to keep to any parts of the Code when cycling this could be used as evidence in support of an allegation of negligence in a civil claim.  

Sections 59-71 specifically cover cyclists. Annex 1 of the code gives advice for cyclists.

The Code includes both advice and rules which, if broken, could result in a civil or criminal liability. Look out for the words "must" or "must not" in the Code and these will be legal requirements.

The Code deals with wearing helmets and reflective or fluorescent clothing, riding more than two abreast. These are not legal requirements, but can have an impact on a civil case or a decision whether or not to prosecute a motorist who failed to see a cyclist.

In the Annex the advice is simple.

Make sure that you feel confident of your ability to ride safely on the road. Be sure that

  • 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.

It is recommended (but not compulsory) that you fit a bell to your cycle. The "musts" are:

  • ensure your brakes are efficient
  • at night, use lit front and rear lights and have a red rear reflector.

If you are not proficient at cycle maintenance, book your bike in for a regular service at your local bike shop.

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